Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Charlton Seniors Savor 'No Sweat' Exercise Class They Make Dramatic Improvements

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Charlton Seniors Savor 'No Sweat' Exercise Class They Make Dramatic Improvements

Article excerpt

Byline: Gordon Jackson, Times-Union staff writer

FOLKSTON -- You won't see a Nautilus machine, StairMaster or barbells in Sally Webb's exercise class, and the participants don't have bulging muscles or rock-hard abs.

But those enrolled in Webb's twice-a-week "no sweat" exercise program at the Charlton County Senior Center say they've experienced dramatic results since they began working out twice a week at the beginning of January.

Take 78-year-old Clarence Harden of Folkston, for example. Harden, who suffered a stroke in 1998, said he was reluctant to join the exercise program, specifically tailored for retirees.

"I couldn't bend my fingers at first and now look at me," Harden said as he flexed his hands into fists. "I know it's done me good."

Those are the type of results Webb said she tries to achieve in her class, which is designed to increase flexibility, balance, strength, circulation and mobility.

"Nobody teaches you how to prepare for old age," Webb said. "It's not fair."

More advance classes teach seniors how to recover from falls.

"Exercise, more than anything else, shows how your body responds to motion," Webb said while working her class of about 20 seniors through a series of toe arches, leg circles, flutter kicks and back stretches.

"Make your neck work, make your eyes work," Webb urges her students. "These exercises are helping your body get stronger all the time. We're working against gravity, here."

Dorothy Mitchell, 70, of Folkston said she's noticed a dramatic difference in her health after overcoming initial skepticism about the program. Mitchell said her goal is to get healthy enough to get rid of the walker she must use to move about.

"I couldn't do a lot at first," Mitchell said. "I can do lots more now."

Many of the exercises are done while sitting in a chair during the 45-minute session. Webb reminds her class that correct posture and technique are important if they expect good results.

About midway through the session, Webb hands out the most high-tech exercise equipment used in the class, mop handles, which participants use to mimic a rowing motion and by moving their hands in different positions on the handle to improve flexibility. …

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