Monday marked the opening of the 32nd Annual DC Senior Games — two weeks of competition among 127 Washingtonians ages 50 and up (the oldest, a swimmer, turns 97 this month) in 15 sporting events, says Jennifer Hamilton, who is coordinating the local games. While registration is closed, the events, which include basketball, bowling, horseshoe toss, softball, swimming, tennis, track and field, and pickleball (we’ll explain later), are free to attend. For details, visit dpr.dc.gov or contact Hamilton at 202-664-7153. In the spirit of these games, the following are a few programs that promise seniors plenty of fitness and fun.
YMCA of Metropolitan Washington’s Fit & Well Seniors
In 35 locations across D.C. For more information, visit ymcadc.org.
“Y’all know in this class you can sing,” shouted Angela Rice, leading a hula-hoop class last week at the Hayes Senior Wellness Center in Northeast. These hoops aren’t used for the usual pelvic undulation, but as a prop to lift and swing the body. When Rice played “Mustang Sally,” it became a virtual wheel that participants steered as they roared, “Ride, Sally, Ride!”
Hula is a new offering at Hayes, a testing ground for classes in the YMCA’s Fit & Well Seniors program. Created in 2010 with a grant from CareFirst of BlueCross BlueShield, the free program for D.C. residents 55 and older offers 33 kinds of fitness classes including Pilates, line dancing, “butts and guts,” tai chi and a new Pound workout (above) using drumsticks, according to program coordinator and instructor William Yates Jr. This month, the program will launch Enhanced Fitness, a three-month course of strength and cardio training.
To learn where to play, visit usapa.org.
Last year, the DC Senior Games added pickleball to its lineup. Created 50 years ago by a couple of families seeking amusement with a plastic ball and a pair of ping-pong paddles, pickleball has taken off among older adults in the past decade and, in the past couple of years, has surged in the metro area, says Helen White, USA Pickleball Association Ambassador for Northern Virginia.
White, 61, stumbled on the game four years ago in Arlington, a pickleball stronghold, and, like so many who watch it, wanted in. While pickleball looks a bit like tennis, it’s played on a badminton-sized court and employs large paddles and a whiffle ball. The gentle sport is “easier on your body” than tennis, White says.
That accessibility has made it particularly popular among seniors. At the White Oak Senior Center in Silver Spring, the game draws both an active set and those who have been sedentary, director Shememe Williams says. “It’s not too intimidating for the seniors who are not as physically active, and they feel welcome.”
Body Tone at Joy of Motion Dance Center
Friendship Heights location, 5207 Wisconsin Ave. NW; Mondays and Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m.; $17 per class. Details at joyofmotion.org.
With sunshine streaming through the studio windows and a soothing jazz playlist, 61-year-old Marianne Becton prodded participants in her Body Tone class to strengthen their core muscles through miniscule movements. “Most of us want to pick up our grandchildren,” she told the group of mostly seniors during a recent lunch-hour class. Though it’s geared toward all ages and fitness levels, Becton believes its timing and quiet vibe resonates with seniors.
“I created this format to slow things down enough to get a little deeper,” says Becton, a longtime dancer and fitness instructor. She’s taught the class for years, and brought the concept to Joy of Motion in January.
The way Becton sees it, everyone will face the effects of aging, but efficient exercise can delay the inevitability. “Will you ever be 27 again? No. You don’t need to be 27, but you don’t need to be four sizes bigger either.”
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