Gymnastics for seniors promotes balance and flexibility instead of back flips
A free Vancouver program helps people over 65 stay limber
Eleanor Grant has two grandchildren under the age of two and she wants to be able to keep up with them — so she decided to take up gymnastics at age 77.
Grant is participating in a new gymnastics program for seniors offered by Vancouver Phoenix Gymnastics. The classes, provided for free, are not your average gymnastics lessons with high bars and trampolines, but are designed to improve balance and coordination for people 65 and over.
"I know that I have to continue to stay active if I want to age well and stay mobile," said Grant, adding better balance and endurance will help her play with her grand kids.
Grant was attending her second class, taught by Phoenix's therapeutic gymnastics coordinator, Alyssa Quattrociocchi.
She said the classes focus on strength exercises and balance improvement, which includes lots of stretching and movements like backwards walking. There are also exercises designed to help seniors prevent falls and get up more easily if they do fall down.
"It's not so much the gymnastics that you might see on TV, it's more building their fitness and strength," said Quattrociocchi, adding she has seen improvements already in just one week.
Shannon Wong, 69, said she is not as steady in her senior years as she thought she would be and the classes are already helping.
"The first week you are a little unsteady and the second week you are feeling a little more confident ... so I expect by the end I'll be doing great," said Wong.
Class participants also have some interaction with children's classes that share the gym.
'The smiles that came up on the seniors' faces when the little three- and four-year-olds came to help them clean up, they had the biggest smiles from that," said Quattrociocchi.
The program was developed by the Delta Gymnastics Society and the gym is located at 4588 Clancy Loranger Way, in Queen Elizabeth Park. For more information click here.
Listen to a short radio documentary on the program from CBC's The Early Edition below:
With files from Rachel Sanders