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Fitness class keeps seniors young and lighthearted
seniors 1
Patty Shimal practices the classs coined Kaepernick stretch with the participants showing their 49er spirit in their red apparel.

The Healthy Aging Association is working to make the benefits of physical activity a foundation for local seniors through their Young at Heart fitness classes.


The Young at Heart fitness classes started as a pilot program with the Stanislaus County Area Agency on Aging in 1999. It was incorporated as a nonprofit in 2000. The Healthy Aging Association’s mission is to help Americans live longer and more independent lives by promoting good health through nutrition and exercise. With over 30 classes ranging from low impact aerobics to Tai Chi, all classes work to build physical strength while increasing balance and flexibility to improve overall function.


“The program keeps growing and growing, we’ve got almost 1,300 participants throughout the county. What is great is that the participants can do the exercises at their own level whether that is sitting or standing, they can challenge themselves individually,” said Healthy Aging Association Fitness Program Manager Kim Viviano.


With support from the Stanislaus County Area Agency on Aging, United Way Partner Agency and Phi Gamma chapter of the Omega Nu philanthropic organization, the Healthy Aging Association has contracted with local certified fitness instructors to bring classes to seniors to help them manage their health.


“I’ve got 35 to 40 people coming to a class, many of whom are in their 70s and 80s. Seniors have really benefited from this program to the point where some who used to need walkers do not anymore. Their balance and strength has drastically improved,” said Dina Gehring, fitness instructor at Turlock’s Young at Heart location.


With no registration fees and a $2 recommended donation per week, the exercise courses are serving adults age 60 and older and helping them prevent and manage diseases such as arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes, as well as minimize the effects of strokes. Gehring said that her students look forward to the class each Tuesday and Thursday and it has even taken a lighthearted turn as they are now practicing their very own Kaepernick-stretch. 


“I love it. I come every Tuesday and Thursday with my daughter. I enjoy the social aspect and also that it is low impact,” said participant Patty Shimal. “Dina is the best instructor. I’ve got muscles on muscles!”


The Turlock Young at Heart 60 plus fitness class takes place every Tuesday and Thursday at Covenant Village located at 2125 North Olive Avenue. Everyone is welcome. For more information on the Young at Heart fitness classes and class locations call 523-2800.