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Where everybody knows your name

Pete FowlerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. A train whistle blew at the start of the song and the fitness class took off to bouncing bluegrass basslines. They jogged, stepped, climbed stairs, lifted weights and carried ping-pong balls in spoons with an outstretched arm. It was the first time bluegrass was played – a band called Appalachian Stomp – but whatever the music, there’s always a strong beat.Bernie Haines jogged in place to the music with his big turquoise-and-silver belt buckle and blue collared shirt. He’s 85 and active, despite diabetes and dizzy spells and the effects of macular degeneration, which has left him nearly legally blind.Haines and his wife Georgia, 81, have come to the Yampah Yahoos Senior Fitness Class at the Glenwood Springs Community Center since it started five years ago.”It’s very good for us to get exercise,” Bernie said. “It’s partly a social thing too. Sort of like Cheers used to be – everybody knows your name.”

It helps that they go together in case one of them is feeling lazy. He said the couple likes to hike a mile or two on days when there’s no class.Nick Isenberg, 64, attended both the strength and the fitness classes Wednesday.”Not only do I have a flat stomach, when I look in the mirror I don’t even recognize myself,” he said. “The bullies still kick sand in my face, but not as much sand,” he joked.He said he was “fairly tired” at the end of his two-hour workout.Today, it’s a circuit day.”And switch … five more minutes of this!” Instructor Lesa Russo said. Time to go to the next station.

Russo is a rehabilitation nurse at Valley View Hospital. She proposed the class as a partnership between the hospital and the community center about five years ago. The hospital refers people to the class who have just finished rehabilitation, she said.”There was nothing going on for seniors in this town,” Russo said. “No exercise at all.”She said she’s seen people in the class get off of anti-depressants and blood pressure medication, and regain their full ranges of motion. Every class includes stretching and strengthening of major muscle groups. Classes also do a lot of work with balance and coordination – like the ping-pong ball in the spoon exercise – because as people age, one of the biggest risks is falling.A lot of the class are big fans of Russo. They say it’s usually a great time with laughter and stories.Sharon Andersen, 61, said the most telling thing about the class is that of five original participants five years ago, four are still coming to classes. The class now has over 100 participants, with some coming regularly and some floating in and out.”She makes it a lot of fun,” Andersen said. “But she also knows what she’s doing.”



“She’s very creative and original,” Georgia Haines said. “Any class isn’t like any other class.”Contact Pete Fowler: 945-8515, ext. 16611pfowler@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO


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