My first time teaching exercise class to seniors, one of my female students announced, “I would do better if there were ass slaps involved.”
Despite lack of training in risqué scenarios, I was able to keep the class on track. Everyone kept their hands to themselves.
Most of the seniors seem to like me. People know me as “the exercise guy,” or occasionally “the dancing man.” Nonetheless, admiration has its limits. I had to bump the start of class from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, to avoid conflicting with The Price is Right.
My class shares a community room with other seniors who are eating their lunch, using the computers or watching TV. So, I arrive early to stake out a spot.
I bring a rolling tub full of exercise equipment and a Bluetooth speaker. I rotate a few different playlists. Kool & the Gang, ABBA and The Commodores are staples of each mix.
As I lead warm-up aerobics to a low-tempo version of “Brick House,” they mirror my movements from an upright or seated position. Each exercise has different versions. For example, a tricep extension exercise has two different base positions – standing or seated – plus several more variations depending on the student’s range of pain-free motion.
The average age of my students is 68. However, this group has endured surgeries and ailments that exceed their biological age. There are walkers, canes, artificial hips, fused necks and metal rods in legs.
And…there’s optimism. In a makeshift exercise room with fake flowers, there’s a sense of determination. There’s no whining or self-pity. The group possesses a quiet, persistent strength. So when a student tells me that her range of movement is improved or her energy level is higher because of my class, that’s an amazing feeling.
The favorite part of class for most students is the exercise ball. It’s a small inflatable that fits in one hand. We imitate familiar movements like dribbling, passing, shooting and bowling — without ever letting go of the ball. I think the ball activities inspire childhood memories.
I conclude each class by commending each student for their commitment to fitness. And I thank them, sincerely, for being there.