Staying Active in Southwest Florida

Fitness classes and activities for maintaining health in the Golden Years

Pilates to pickleball and basketball to tennis—adult recreation, fitness instruction and league participation do a lot for a lot of people in Southwest Florida. It makes sense. Aging changes the body and mind, and physical activity protects bones, muscles and joints just as it helps foster the benefits of being social.

The YMCA locations in Naples and Fort Myers offer vast selections of adult programs. Glute Camp includes exercise that targets and strengthens lower body muscles. Aerobics classes are designed as fat-burning, cardiovascular workouts. Tai Chi workouts consist of fluid, gentle and relaxed movements, regulated breathing and focused meditation. Barre, boxing, circuit training, Hatha yoga, tap dancing and Zumba are among the numerous additional activities offered.

“Break a sweat, chat with a friend, relax your mind, challenge your body or reconnect and recharge,” is the motto of the Naples YMCA. Its affirmation proclamation is “Get Active, Make Friends, Play a Sport.”

Joey Belanger

The YMCA in Fort Myers offers a class called Body Pump. “I have seen a shift over the years, especially with women,” says Joey Belanger, the organization’s regional executive director in Fort Myers. “They kind of shunned strength training. They felt like maybe they were going to get too bulky. But that’s not the case; it’s all about the type of strength training you’re doing.” Body Pump is a full-body class. “It focuses on low weight, high reps. The title might scare some women away, but the class is mostly women and it’s taught by women. The instructors do a great job of helping them. If they see a new person, they’ll ask what their background is, set them up and help them succeed.”

FITNESS FUN: YMCA locations in Naples and Fort Myers offer a variety of fitness classes for all ages and skill levels. Classes include Body Pump, Glute Camp, Zumba, Tai Chi, aerobics, yoga, barre, boxing and circuit training, among others.

Doing aerobic, muscle- and bone-strengthening physical activity at a moderately intense level can slow the loss of bone density that comes with age. Particularly for older adults, physical activity classes can lower the risk of falling, thus helping participants avoid hip fractures and other life-changing injuries.

The Collier County Recreation Department in Naples offers numerous coed fitness classes for adults and seniors, ages 55 and older. The workouts are geared toward improved balance and increased strength and mobility for everyday tasks, and also incorporate chairs to assist with balance. The county facility also offers beginning to advanced adult classes in wakeboarding, waterskiing and sailing.

Meanwhile, Adrenaline USA Volleyball in Naples offers adult volleyball leagues. The Gulf Coast Adult Soccer League and the Roller Hockey League, both in Naples, have various leagues for different adult skill levels.

IN A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN: From volleyball to soccer, a variety of leagues in the region offers additional options for seniors seeking to engage in more physical activity.

Regular physical activity also helps with arthritis and other rheumatic conditions affecting the joints. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 21⁄2 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, plus muscle-strengthening activity, improves adults’ ability to manage pain, do everyday tasks and improve quality of life. Activities such as lifting weights can help increase or maintain muscle mass and strength.

“For people who may be returning to this kind of environment, don’t hesitate to ask for help from an employee,” says Belanger, who’s been with the YMCA for 17 years. “I’ve even seen regulars who may have been working out for years o er to help someone. That’s the good thing about YMCA: It becomes more of a community than maybe some other fitness locations.”

 

Photo Credit: Getty, Courtesy Naples YMCA