Clarence Senior Center helps seniors stay fit and healthy
The senior center offers a Stay Fit dining program through the Department of Senior Services. This program offers healthy hot lunches to Clarence seniors, members and nonmembers of the center. Seniors can come to the center and enjoy a healthy lunch and socialize and are only asked for a donation of $2.75.
Along with the Stay Fit program is Club 99, an exercise program for adults that are 60 and older. Senior Fitness Coordinator Richard Derwald originated this program and now trains leaders in different locations to lead their own groups throughout Erie County.
Executive Director of Clarence Senior Citizens, Inc. Karla Madrid believes that this program greatly benefits the seniors of Clarence and can help them stay healthy.
“It’s to benefit our seniors. They have nothing to lose but everything to gain,” she said. “They get the physical benefits of exercising and they have fun.”
The program uses elasticized bands and rubber balls for resistance training and to build stamina. Participants can move at their own pace and aren’t forced to work beyond their limitations.
“What’s nice about it is that people can go at their own ability,” said Madrid. “If you can’t stand for the exercise, you can sit.”
The program is held at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday and Friday in the cafeteria of the center. It is lead by all volunteer leaders that have been trained to run the program. Larry Vito, a leader at the center, has been involved in Club 99 since the beginning.
“I’m really encouraged by what the seniors have been doing and the enthusiasm that they give,” said Vito. “It originally started as one day a week with about 10 people but they really wanted to have it twice a week because they thought once a week wasn’t enough.”
Several participants in the exercise program even attend both classes. There are also several other volunteers that will step up and lead when a leader cannot attend.
Another leader, Casey Andrzejewski, explained that Club 99 is named this way because everyone that participates in it is hoping to reach the age of 100. When doing the exercises, they count. When they get to 100, everyone yells happy birthday.
Participants in Club 99 range in age. Some are just 60 years old, while one man that comes to exercise is 98 years old. In fact, there are several seniors that are older than 90.
Charlie Minneci is 91 years old and has been involved in the program for two years. He joined to stay active and keep his bones moving.
“It means a lot to have movements like that and exercise like that. If we go home and sit on the sofa, we fall asleep, and that’s not good,” said Minneci. “I figured I have to keep active and this is the place to come. You meet a lot of people, plus you exercise and then you have lunch. What more could you ask for?”
Another participant in the program, Angelo Liberatore has been exercising with this program for more than 10 years. He explained that he is the type of person that likes to stay busy but he wouldn’t find himself exercising like this if the program hadn’t began.
“I don’t think you would do this at home if you were on your own,” he said. “It’s fun to do it in a group and I think it just helps and keeps you fit. Nobody believes I’m 86 so I think that’s a good sign.”
The exercise begins with some stretching. They then move on to using the elasticized bands, stretching them across their chests and even stepping on them and pulling up with one arm. Rubber balls have recently been introduced to the program and several exercises are done to help with movement and strength.
While exercising, the leaders will have the seniors count by nines or fours to keep their mind working as well. This helps not only work their muscles but it is also a mental exercise. There are also exercises done that involve the entire group in singing.
Following the exercise, the seniors can enjoy a hot lunch and socialize.