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Archive for Thursday, January 2, 1992

A LEG UP

January 2, 1992

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Wilma Elder doesn't adhere to the notion that you can be too old to exercise and feel good.

"I don't buy that. You're never too old," said Elder, an exercise instructor for the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department. "As long as you can move, there's something you can do.''

Elder teaches three sessions of "Fitness for Life," an exercise course for people age 55 and older.

The classes, held at Holcom Park Recreation Center, 2700 W. 27th, and the Lawrence Senior Center, Eighth and Vermont, are offered this winter and spring.

Elder, 62, who has taught fitness classes for 12 years, said it was especially important for older people to exercise.

"When you do this, you can really see the changes," she said, explaining that the benefits of exercise are more visible in older adults.

"YOU CAN SEE people feeling better and coming off medication. It's really rewarding for me."

The classes comprise simple leg and arm lifts and other movements, she said.

"We don't do any jumping . . . and I tell them that if anything hurts, don't do it," she said.

Elder said the classes were conducted using music by Perry Como, the Andrews Sisters and other musicians popular with older people.

"Some of the people even bring their own music," she said.

She said the class progresses slowly at first.

"I think the big thing is to start out really slow and then progress," she said. "Once you get stretched out and warmed up, you can work on strengthening."

ELDER SAID many participants sometimes are hesitant at the start of the course, but everyone feels better after they sign up.

"Everybody's real self-conscious when they start," she said. "Everybody wants to sit in the back row."

Marilyn Conrad, 68, Lawrence, who has been taking exercise classes four years, agreed.

"People have two left feet" when they start the classes, she said, but once the initial hesitation is overcome, most are glad they joined.

"I always feel great when I finish," she said. "If it didn't make you feel good, I wouldn't do it."

Howard Niemoeller, 76, Lawrence, another participant in one of Elder's classes, said the classes were good for people who didn't get out much.

"It keeps you sharper and it helps your joints," he said. "I think for most of them (class participants), it's more important than it is for some of the young ones."

BOTH MRS. Conrad and Niemoeller praised Elder for her ability to work with people of varying ages and activity levels.

Elder said her oldest student so far was 82, but the average age of participants was 70.

For people not enrolled in fitness classes, Edler recommends a good diet along with some stretching and walking.

More information on Elder's classes is available in the parks and recreation department's winter and spring Leisure Brochure, which was inserted into the Dec. 22 Journal-World. Residents also may pick up a copy at South Park Recreation Center, 1141 Mass., or call the center at 841-7777.

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