Abilene senior citizens ‘get moving’ in Gentle Fitness class


ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — During the onset of the pandemic, many people were unable to stay physically active, particularly seniors, who were homebound for their safety.

Now an Abilene fitness instructor is inspiring seniors to take control of their health and fitness in a less rigorous, gentler workout experience. 

Every Tuesday and Thursday, you will find retired math teacher and veteran Wilma Lewis attending Gentle Fitness.

“I just make sure I keep moving, I don’t sit down for long periods of time,” Lewis says. “I’m either laying down sleeping or up moving around because I know it has been really beneficial to my health.”

Lewis says she is a diabetic and used to have high cholesterol and high blood pressure, but ever since she started working out, her health has significantly improved.  

“All that is well under control now, and I’m very healthy right now and that’s the main thing. I know I have to exercise every day for the rest of my life,” said Lewis.  

Class instructor Lenora Peterson says Gentle Fitness looks at five key areas: balance, endurance, flexibility, strength, and socialization.

Throughout the 1-hour class, the seniors benefit from low-to-moderate physical activity routines, such as using weights and resistance bands. 

“We’re looking at mobility, the range of motion, and helping with the quality of life. That’s the whole point of it,” said Peterson.  

Peterson says her goal is to reduce senior isolation, especially during the pandemic, by helping her participants maintain an active lifestyle, something the Hendrick Health Fitness Club encourages.  

“If you’re still staying at home all the time, you need to get out and have social interaction,” said Ron Richert, general manager and personal trainer at Hendrick Health Club. 

Richert says there are many things you can do to prevent certain diseases, such as diabetes, or in most senior citizens, the risk of decreased bone density. 

“You got to get your blood, that helps to increase the amount of red blood cells that you have, that helps to keep your heart in better shape because if your heart is not in good shape, everything else kind of goes by the wayside,” said Richert.  

Lewis says she keeps exercising because, “I don’t want to have my children take care of me. I want to be independent as long as I’m alive.”

The class is encouraging seniors to take control of their health, fitness, and goals in life, with a bit of physical activity.  

“It helps to have other people that are going through the same thing that you are, and the social atmosphere for exercising in a group is really important to get that and start a habit. It’s difficult to do all on your own,” said Richert.

Classes are held at the Arthur Sears senior home every Tuesday and Thursday from 10-11 a.m. 

Peterson says all are welcome to join. 

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