Programs for seniors offer ‘fun’ challenges

SOUTHWICK-For area residents eager to challenge their brains and their bodies, a diverse array of classes are slated this fall, hosted by the Southwick Council on Aging.

An “Activity Day/Meet the Instructor” gathering is set for Sept. 5 from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. at the Southwick Senior Center, 454 College Highway, according to Cindy Sullivan, executive director.

“This is our second year of doing the activity day,” said Sullivan. “This gives people the opportunity to meet teachers and instructors and ask questions regarding the impact of the class and its benefits.”

Rebecca Perron, Ph.D., of Southwick, will lead Zumba Gold classes this fall at the Southwick Senior Center. (Submitted photo)

Sullivan added that the hour session also provides the instructors a way to promote their offerings. Light refreshments will be provided.

“Our senior center is open to all seniors in the surrounding towns, and we see many faces from folks who live in other communities,” said Sullivan.

The program schedule that begins Sept. 9 includes:

  • Mondays: 9 a.m., quilting and needlework, and at 10 a.m., Chi-Gong. On the third Monday of the month, a yoga dancing class is offered at $5 per session.
  • Tuesdays: 9:30 a.m., Yoga Playstrong Studio; 11 a.m., Tai Chi; Noon, painting; 12:30 p.m., card games; 1 p.m., cribbage.
  • Wednesdays: 10 a.m., line dancing, and from 1:30 – 4 p.m., bingo. Sullivan noted that bingo will start for the season on Sept. 4.
  • Thursdays: 9 a.m., sewing and quilting, $4 per person; 9:30 a.m., S.A.F.E. for Seniors – Playstrong Studio, and at 12:30 p.m., card games.
  • Fridays: 9:45 a.m., chair yoga, and at 11 a.m., Zumba Gold. Also, at 10:30 a.m., swimming aerobics will be offered at Wilderness Experience at a cost of $20 for five classes.

“Sometimes there is confusion about what the class is like and how it differs from other classes,” said Sullivan. “Take advantage of the opportunity to meet the instructors of the classes to see if it is something you might be interested in participating in.”

Classes are $2 at each gathering unless otherwise noted, according to Sullivan.

“We have a drop-in format which includes pay as you go,” said Sullivan, adding swimming classes must be paid in advance.

Among the instructors this fall is Kathleen Peterson of Huntington who will be instructing the Chi-Gong classes. Chi-Gong is based on the ancient art and science of Chinese energy healing that includes standing or seated movements, according to Peterson.

Peterson noted the exercises planned help to tone muscles, increase circulation, stimulate the brain, improve balance, boost the immune system and clear the mind.

“The reason to learn the cultivation of chi (energy) is to prevent disease and improve health,” said Peterson. “Medical Chi-Gong is for self-healing. Find the balance in life by finding stillness and rest in movement and being mindful and attentive at rest.”

Kathleen Peterson of Huntington will lead a series of Chi-Gong classes this fall at the Southwick Senior Center. (Submitted photo)

Among the “longevity exercises” Peterson will cover in each session include lymph breathing for oxygenating the body, hand exercises for circulation and dexterity, one finger Zen for energy balancing, and upper body movements for “collecting energy from Heaven,” and lower body movements for “collecting energy from Earth.”

“The last exercise is a gratitude ending that allows peace for the body, mind and spirit,” noted Peterson.

Rebecca Perron, Ph.D., of Southwick, will lead Zumba Gold classes and encourages adults to try the “fun” movements she has planned.

“The class is unique because we focus on balance elements as well as cardio,” said Perron.

“As a gerontologist, I am always mindful of areas that the body could feel stress so I always say, ‘If it hurts, don’t do it,’” said Perron, adding, “As long as you’re moving, that is what is important.”

Perron said the 45 – 50 minute session typically starts out slow and gains momentum and then closes with a cooling down period.

“There is not a set water break so I encourage everyone to take a break when they need it,” said Perron.

For more information on any happenings at the senior center, call (413) 569-5498.

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