Janesville74.9°

Exercise class is a ball for seniors

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GINA R. HEINE
November 21, 2007
— When a doctor told Mary Libby she needed to build more body mass, she ended up in a ball and weight exercise class at the YMCA of Northern Rock County.

Libby, the president of Primetimers—Evansville’s senior group—enjoyed the class and thought it might make a great addition to programming at the Evansville Senior Center, 320 Fair St.


“We needed programs to get things shaking. It was pretty stagnant,” Libby said.


Soon, a collaboration with the YMCA developed.


Enter Eloise Eager of Evansville. Libby heard that Eager used an exercise ball at home, and Eager became the morning instructor.


Mary Calley teaches the night class.


Now in its ninth week, the senior center’s ball and band exercise class is helping area seniors strengthen their cores and improve their balance and stability.


“I feel good when I leave,” Dee Leeder said after Monday’s class, noting the stretching helps her overall.


The women—so far no men have shown up, though they are welcome—do exercises on an exercise ball and often use rubber bands and dumbbells.


“This is hard on an old lady!” joked one woman doing crunches while sitting on a ball.


Moments later, the song “I Will Survive” began.


Participants work at their own rates, and they can choose the intensity level, Eager said.


The Primetimers bought about $1,000 in equipment and hosted the class at their facility while the YMCA trained instructors. Eager and Calley work for the YMCA, but the Primetimers pay the YMCA for the instructors.


Eager explained how she had an exercise ball at home and has been working out for about 30 years.


“I missed about the first 60,” jokes 81-year-old Dorothy Helgesen, proudly the oldest in the class.


Helgesen, a one-year breast cancer survivor, used to work out at Curves. However, this is the first time she has used a stability ball.


“Definitely, I’m more agile than (before),” Barb Pierce said after Monday’s class, adding that the exercises help prevent osteoporosis and slouching.


Strengthening your core is important because it keeps you stronger inside, Eager said.


Many thin people think they don’t have to work out, she said.


“But they do because it helps you maintain your health and longevity and strengthens your bones,” she said.


To get involved

The ball and band exercise class is offered for seniors from 8 to 9 a.m. and 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays at the senior center, 320 Fair St., Evansville. Cost is $2 per class.


The class will continue for three more weeks before taking a break for the holidays and resuming in January. For more information, call (608) 882-0407.


Benefits of the ball

Eloise Eager, the morning instructor of the ball and band exercise class at the Evansville Senior Center, said exercising on a ball does two things:


-- It works your core simply by sitting on it. You might not realize it, but you’re constantly working to stay balanced, she said.


-- It works other muscles by doing exercises on the ball, such as bicep curls.


“It gets you going, and everyone can do it, at their own level,” she said.



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