Health at every age: Working out at 95

Walt Cline, 95, rehabbing after a recent stroke, works with Golden Sands Exercise Director Pam Fox with small weights as part of his personalized fitness program. The Kilpsan assisted living center recently opened its fitness program to the general public. DAMIAN MULINIX photo

KLIPSAN BEACH - For those of you who don't exercise for whatever reasons, check out the residents of the Golden Sands at Klipsan Beach Assisted Living Facility.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning, a good handful of the seniors get together to stretch, kick and maybe even shake a few years off.

"The girls love it," said Golden Sands Exercise Director Pam Fox of the mostly female class. "They really look forward to it."

Fox leads up to 11 residents per class through the work-outs, using elements of aerobic dance, Tai Chi, boxing, weight training and calisthenics.

"I've really seen progress in a lot of these gals," she said.

The main goal of the class is to improve strength, flexibility and balance amongst the seniors, which reduces risk of falls. That risk is high among residents, with falls ranking as one of the main causes of injuries. The class is also a social time where members can relieve stress together. It also can work wonders for self assurance.

"In doing the work-outs, it's also going to help preserve their independence," said Fox, who added being able to get around for themselves is a high priority.

Since the opening of the assisted living facility three years ago, Golden Sands has offered an exercise program to its residents, complete with their own gym. The exercise facility at Golden Sands is made up of a variety of modern exercise equipment including stationary bikes, weights, Nautilus machines and a treadmill. This is where Fox works individually with residents for the better part of the afternoon on the three days-a-week she is there.

"They're very faithful," she said of her clients. "They never miss a day and they're never late. They understand and appreciate the benefits. They understand the 'use it or lose it' theory."

Fox, who has a bachelor's degree in exercise science and a background in cardiac rehabilitation, coordinates and works with each person on their own exercise plan, tailored especially to their needs. Some are there to improve their overall well-being, while others are rehabbing from an injury or ailment.

Walt Cline, 95, is recovering from a stroke he suffered a few months back. Though he cannot walk on his own at this point, he is still able to do seven good minutes on the recumbent stationary bike. He also works with small weights.

Grace Cox is 94 and comes in three times a week to work with Fox. Cox broke her hip awhile back, which causes her to use a walker now. She also had a shoulder injury last fall. Cox said that most of all, she hopes that by doing the exercise regimen it will allow her to get around without the help of others.

"No use coming to just to keep going," she said.

Because she has had a cold recently, Cox can't do her regular workout because it makes her tire too quickly. However, her overall progress has earned her the "most improved" medal from Fox, who said it is cases like hers that are the payoff of the job.

"You can just see the progress she's making."

So if people like Cox or Cline are inspiring, perhaps one should consider exercising alongside of them? Golden Sands has recently opened its exercise facility to the public.

A monthly fee of $30 is the price and there is no registration or drop out fees. The general public also can come and work out whenever they want, as Golden Sands is open 24-hours-a-day.

Right now, they only have seven public members, but because they only charge month-to-month, their numbers change regularly.

"It's a great little facility," touted Fox, who suggested that if people don't like working out with a bunch of other people in noisy gyms, maybe their facility is the answer.

The gym is usually pretty quiet, with people coming and going as they please, doing their routine and then leaving. And because of her schedule, Fox said she rarely sees the public clients. But she said if members of the public ever want her help, she's happy to give it - with one catch.

"If they come in when I'm here, I'm happy to work with them," she said, "but residents have first priority."

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