When it comes to getting fit, if you're over 50 take a look at your local Senior Citizens Centre - they offer much more than you realize.


Before we start talking about being active, I have a confession to make. Unlike Sue (the Queen of Fitness), I’m a bit of a lay-about. There’s nothing I enjoy more than a sleep-in, time on my laptop, reading a good book, colouring, jigsaws, and coffee with friends. If you look carefully at that list, all of them involve sitting on my bottom and very little movement (other than lifting my coffee cup or turning a page).

I realized several years ago that Midlife means I can’t maintain that very pleasant routine without adding weight. Unfortunately, my Midlife metabolism isn’t as robust as it was in my younger days. So, with that in mind I started a morning walk routine where I do a lap of the neighbourhood (about 2.5km) each day and have maintained that for six or seven years now, but I was still losing the battle and the occasional kilogram would creep on.


18 months ago I bought a Fitbit and that was another wake-up call. Even with my noble efforts of a morning walk, I was only doing around 5,000 steps a day! I was sure I was doing at least 10,000 steps and it was rather disheartening to see how few I was actually achieving – no wonder my pants were getting tighter!

The next step was to take it up a notch, and that involved adding in an evening walk with my husband. We go for a stroll for a couple of kilometres each night before or after tea (depending on his schedule) and chat about our day, enjoy the down time, and generally connect on a pleasant level while my Fitbit takes me closer to 8,000 steps (my goal for the day that gives me a little fireworks display on the readout and a bit of a boost). I gave up on 10,000 steps because it was disheartening to never achieve it.


We have a very nice Senior Citizens’ Centre about 5 minutes’ drive from our house and I’ve ignored it for all the time we’ve lived here - because we all know that a Senior Cits’ Centre is for “old people” don’t we? Well things changed one day when I decided I’d like to try Tai Chi again (I’d done it years ago and missed the Zen feeling). When I googled around to see what was available, Lo and behold! The only class anywhere near me was at the local Senior Cits!

That was such a disappointment because I couldn’t possibly be “old” enough to go there could I? After a bit of thought, I gave them a call and told them I was over 55 and did that qualify me? Well! It turns out you qualify as a Senior Citizen for using the centre if you’re over 50! And the icing on the cake is that classes are a measly $3 each for an hour! I was sold and ready to sign up!


My first foray into Senior Cits Land was to take that Tai Chi class, and I absolutely loved it. The instructor was great and there are at least 35 other ladies (and a couple of blokes) who turn up each week. They were encouraging, non-competitive, and not a designer sportswear outfit to be seen. A lot of them are in their 70’s, but they’re fit, and active, and fun to be around.

I was fairly useless to start with, but I wanted to do something that kept me active and flexible and helped my co-ordination, and Tai Chi did all that and more. I come away from each $3 class with a sense of accomplishment, and I’m actually getting quite competent at all 140 moves (as long as I can see the instructor to follow along). Since then, I’ve talked my sister-in-law and a friend into coming and they’re both hooked too.


Now I’m newly retired/unemployed/figuring out what to do with my time, I decided to check out what else was on offer at the Centre. I considered Boot Scooting but my rhythm leaves a lot to be desired and I was a bit worried about tripping over my own feet. Next on the list was “Gentle Gym” and I thought I’d give that a try (although I was worried it would involve sitting on a chair and waving my arms around a bit – not exactly my idea of burning calories!)

Well, I was in for another surprise (shock) these classes aren’t for the decrepit and elderly, oh no! The instructor is a Personal Trainer who runs Boot Camps and Cardio classes at the gym and comes along to do these classes in her spare time – and she makes us move! There’s some great 80’s music and a few resounding classical tunes (Ode to Joy) and we do.not.stop! There’s lots of marching on the spot, walking, we bring and use weights, and I’m having to think really hard to keep up with the routines that change each week. Once again, there’s plenty of 70 year olds there and they’ve been going for years and are inspiring me to keep up the pace and keep attending each week.


First - walking, second – Tai Chi, and third – Gentle Gym. None of these cost me much money, which is important to a frugalista like myself. I heard that the local Pilates classes are $35 a session – that’s never going to happen for me and my bank account! But, $3 for a class and walking for free means I can stay active and have fun without it breaking the bank. It also still leaves me plenty of time to read those books and drink those cups of coffee with friends (not to mention all the time I spend blogging!)

When it comes to getting fit, if you're over 50 take a look at your local Senior Citizens Centre - they offer much more than you realize.

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