FITNESS: Seniors, get social and get fit
My mother and aunt talk nearly every day and, all too often, the subject of weight comes up.
Both are retired (with lots of time on their hands) and inactive (although far from lazy), yet they ramble at length about how to shed the pounds.
I can’t tell you how many seasons I’ve heard: “We’re going to Weight Watchers” or “I found this new program. We’re going to try it.”
It lasts a week or two then fizzles because someone gets busy or somebody’s back/hip/knee is sore.
Recently, they’ve noticed I’ve trimmed up a little over the summer thanks to a fitness challenge I’m taking at the Port Moody recreation complex. I work out — including once a month with a personal trainer — take spin and yoga classes, and, soon, I hope to incorporate aerobics. I also chart my diet every day.
So when I spent a lovely 90 minutes talking with Lulu Chavez and Beth Bexrud last month, I knew I would write an article with my mom and aunt in mind.
For many years, Chavez and Bexrud have led seniors through drop-in classes at the PoMo rec complex and Kyle Centre.
Chavez, a PoMo resident, instructs Forever Fit, a session on Mondays and Wednesdays at 9 a.m. at the Kyle Centre, as well as Seniors Spin and Strength at the rec complex on Mondays at 1:15 p.m.
Her eyes light up when she speaks about her “Forever Fit girls” — a group of women in their late 60s who continue to challenge Chavez physically.
“They’re an inspiration,” she said. “They’re so healthy and happy. They make fitness part of their routine every day. And that’s the way it should be. They are taking care of themselves.”
Forever Fit is a moderate class — i.e., not for beginners — that focuses on cardio, strength and agility, and stretching (Chavez offers options for various positions, depending on fitness levels). According to the city’s Happening Guide, the class aims to improve “posture, movement, efficiency and overall muscular performance related to daily activities.”
Best of all, Chavez said, it’s a great way to meet new friends. “This group is very, very social,” she said. “I think it’s one of the most social groups that I have ever taught. And they’re very welcoming, too. I always introduce new people in the class and there’s an instant bond between everybody. It’s very encouraging.”
On the other side of the fitness spectrum for seniors is Osteofit for Life and Joint Works, which are taught by Beth Bexrud, a PoMo resident who has instructed recreational programs for the city for 28 years.
Osteofit for Life, which runs Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1:30 p.m. in the aerobics studio at the PoMo rec complex, was developed in the early 1990s by BC’s Women’s Hospital and Health Centre as an exercise, education and fall-prevention program for people with osteoporosis or low bone density, or those at risk of falls and fractures.
Osteofit instructors, like Bexrud, are specially trained and certified by the hospital.
The moderate program — for people with some exercise background — focuses on the lower back, with lots of stretch and strength training but no forward flexing of the spine and no crunches.
Her Joint Works class, meanwhile, runs Thursdays at 10 a.m. at Kyle Centre and was developed in the 1990s by the Arthritis Society. The gentle program for beginners zeros in on keeping joints mobile and relieving pain by strengthening the muscles around the joints. It is designed to allow participants to stay in a chair, if necessary, and doesn’t require a floor mat.
Both Chavez and Bexrud believe strongly in staying fit — especially for seniors.
“We used to be a zoomers, boomers and seniors’ population in Port Moody,” Chavez said. “Not anymore. There are a lot more seniors here than ever before, and it’s so good to see them get out and enjoying life.”