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Try to keep up: Seniors keep rigorous workout routine

By Austin Jackson | Published Saturday, September 22, 2018
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Libering Up

LIMBERING UP – Decatur resident Fred Jones, 88, planks during the Silver Sneakers yoga class at the Fit-N-Wise in Decatur. The Monday through Friday class features cardio, strength and flexibility. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The scattered chatter quiets as soothing, ethereal tones from the speaker loop throughout the Fit-N-Wise gymnasium in Decatur.

Within seconds, headband and jean short-clad seniors turn the chairs spread across the basketball court to partner up for yoga.

It’s Thursday. After a grueling cardio class yesterday, it’s time to stretch.

NAMASTE – Deanne Martin, fitness programs manager at Fit-N-Wise in Decatur leads the Silver Sneakers yoga class Thursday. She’s been teaching at Fit-N-Wise since 1999. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“Can everybody hear me?” fitness programs manager Deanne Martin asks the crowd of about 30 seniors.

“Yes,” they reply, with a myriad of verbal and nonverbal affirmations.

The Silver Sneakers class soon contorts and unwinds into a multitude of spine-stretching positions.

Chair or not, these fitness-focused folks get to work.

On the front row, 88-year-old Fred and 78-year-old Cuca Jones lead the way, following the instructors every move.

You’d be hard pressed to keep up with the Joneses.

They rarely miss a class. This was their second workout of the day.

The couple wakes up at 4:16 a.m. every morning to start their day off on the right foot.

Silver Sneakers

SILVER SNEAKERS – Decatur resident Cuca Jones, 78, performs a yoga pose during the Silver Sneakers yoga class at Fit-N-Wise. Jones’ daily workout routine consists of waking up at 4:16 a.m. with her husband to workout at 5 a.m. before returning for the Silver Sneakers class at 11 a.m. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“We’re here by 5 a.m.,” Cuca Jones said. “We do treadmill, weights. Then we go home, eat breakfast and take a nap. Then we come back and do it all over again at 11.”

The Silver Sneakers class is offered Monday through Friday with each day focusing on strength, flexibility or cardio.

Cuca Jones said they often fight through the aches and pains at Fit-N-Wise, but it’s worth it.

“Sometimes I come here and my legs ache, and I start doing the workouts and I feel better,” she said. “It helps. I do as much as I can.”

Following cardio and strength Monday through Wednesday, Thursday is yoga day. It’s a day to soothe heal and invigorate, Martin said.

To start the class, Martin’s assistant gives out neck and back massages as people ease into the yoga routine.

Once warmed up, she demonstrates the ‘modified positions’ that are a lower level of difficulty using the back of the chair instead of the seat as Martin performs the more difficult poses.

Most of the class sticks with the more technical positions. She said that’s just how this class is.

“There’s a positive peer pressure here,” she said. “They’re great.”

Peer pressure or not, what brings many to this class is that it’s a judgment-free zone. Janet Livingston said that’s why she comes to the class.

“I feel like I can be more forgiving to myself,” said the 59-year-old Livingston. “At other gyms, I felt like there was competition. There was a lot of things I couldn’t do. I would think, ‘I’m a failure. What’s wrong with me?’ So it’s been a journey to find what works for me. This is what works for me. I’m listening to my body and doing what it needs.”

Martin said the classes are designed to encourage movement and activity and to push participants beyond what they think they can do. “The coolest thing about it is that sense of accomplishment, when they’re doing things they thought they could never do again,” she said. “It’s amazing.”

The instructor has been teaching the class well before the new location opened, starting in 1999.

She said she’s learned a lot from teaching this group. Oftentimes, she’s the one getting instruction.

“They are a wealth of wisdom and encouragement,” she said. “They are cornerstones of our community. And we are seriously blessed to have them. We love what we get to do.”

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