NYC Seniors Invited to Free Exercise Classes

By June Kellum Fakkert, Epoch Times
September 25, 2013 4:42 pm Last Updated: April 28, 2016 5:03 pm

With grandchildren back in school and an autumn nip in the air, it’s the time of year when many seniors may find themselves without a lot to do or much motivation to get out of the house.

Luckily for seniors in the five boroughs, they can participate in free outdoor exercise classes for the next six weeks in parks near their homes. The classes are provided by the City Parks Foundation, which has offered biannual exercise programs free of charge to residents over 60 years of age for the past seven years.

Program manager and tennis instructor Jon Gamberg told the Epoch Times that he saw great improvements in seniors’ ability to play tennis after just six or eight weeks of classes.

“Some people are beginners just playing for the first time, so in the six weeks or the eight weeks that they are participating, they really pick up a lot in terms of their ability to play at the end of the program.”

Gamberg said that about 700 seniors participated in the yoga, walking, and tennis classes offered in the spring and that about 5,000 have participated in the program since it started in 2006.

The goal of the program is to help seniors stay active and physically healthy, but the enjoyable social environment is also good for their mental health.

The social environment is one big reason senior Irma Hill likes the program. A Queens resident, Hill plans to join the tennis classes in her local park this year.

“It’s very social—you meet people. Then … after the lessons, you get into games with some of these people,” she said.

Hill is a stellar example of senior fitness. She is 90 years old, swims for 30 minutes every day, and belongs to a bowling league. She’s also been playing tennis since she was 18 and will continue despite breaking hear arm while on a cruise in August.

“But it’s better,” she said. “So I think I can play tennis on Monday.”

“I’m convinced that if you do that [play sports] you’ll stay healthier,” she said.

In case some seniors are worried about the fall chill, Gamberg said the cooler weather is actually good because there is less risk of getting overheated or exhausted.

The exercise instructors, staff members of the Parks Foundation, are trained in the fields they are teaching and can also discuss the health benefits of exercise with seniors, Gamberg said.

Classes started Sept. 23 and will run through Nov. 1. Gamberg said seniors are welcome to join at any time. The classes offered are yoga, walking, and tennis and will take place in 14 different parks in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island.

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