News From Terre Haute, Indiana

December 19, 2012

Silver Sneakers work out, then trade cookies

Lisa Trigg
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Don’t let the chairs fool you.

The people exercising while seated in the gym at the Vigo County YMCA are putting hard-core effort into their Silver Sneakers workouts.

With instructor Donna Paul-Bonham cheerfully calling out directions, 24 people stretched their arms and legs, rotated their feet while balancing colorful inflated balls, and even dropped sideways to one knee to do lunges with the chair as a support.

Margo Lewis has learned just how challenging the class is — after initially disregarding the class because of the chairs.

“This is just the most wonderful class,” she said. “I didn’t think it would be this good of a class, but I’m going to retire sooner so I can do it more.”

Barb Humphrey of Rosedale not only does the aerobics class on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m., but also participates in the Monday-Wednesday-Friday water aerobics class.

“We get our spirits refreshed, as well as we get our bodies worked out,” said Humphrey, who had been the caregiver for her elderly parents. She said she joined the YMCA as a positive move for herself after her parents passed away.

The only man in Tuesday’s class didn’t mind being surrounded by the women.

“I’m not losing it in pounds, but taking it off in inches,” said Frank Higgins on Tuesday as he put away his chair, weights and ball after one of the twice-weekly workouts at the Y.

“When I first started coming here, I used a cane,” the senior Terre Haute resident said. “Now, I leave the cane in the car.”

Jean Vibbert of Terre Haute shared a positive doctor’s report from last week. Her blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides are normal, and she has lost 12 pounds. She attributes that to working out at the Y.

Many other members of the Silver Sneakers have similar success stories about their participation in the class.

On Tuesday, the group celebrated the six-month anniversary of the YMCA’s opening, and shared holiday spirit through a cookie exchange. Each participant brought in three dozen cookies to share and took away three dozen cookies. Because they all work out, the cookies could be considered just a few more calories to burn.

Paul-Bonham, their instructor, said many of the participants have realized much progress in their mobility and strength since starting the class.

The Silver Sneakers program was something Paul-Bonham said the Y management knew would be in demand as soon as the Y opened in June. But, there was no instructor specially trained in senior fitness programs.

So, Paul-Bonham was sent to a Silver Sneakers training class in Fort Wayne to become certified, and the class has been active ever since.

“This is a great group. So forgiving,” she said, smiling about the sometimes tough workouts that the class does.

Paul-Bonham, who has been leading exercise classes for 30 years, also leads a spinning class (exercise bikes), water aerobics and cardioblast — when she is not greeting Y members at the reception desk.

While the 10 a.m. group is called Silver Sneakers, Paul-Bonham said, there is no age eligibility or requirement for the class. Some non-seniors participate as they recover from injury or illness to regain mobility. And others with health issues join the group to get back into exercise.

Some of the members do have Silver Sneaker cards through their insurance carriers, which means that they get the cost of their Y membership covered by insurance.

The cookie exchange on Tuesday was organized by the group members and follows the success of a Thanksgiving exchange of finger foods. The group has also chosen to collect donations for three local charities.

Among the many groups of all ages active at the YMCA, the Silver Sneakers have inspired many with their healthy attitudes, Paul-Bonham said.

To find out more about the programming offered at the Y, go online to www.vigocountyymca.org or call 812-232-8446.



Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.