For more than 20 years, fitness trainer Charlie Foxman has inspired seniors at The Gatesworth to stay active. But the 71-year-old exercise expert will be the first to tell you that they have inspired him.
The Gatesworth, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, provides residents with access to activities throughout the week to improve their health, independence and longevity. In an informal fitness survey, the senior community requested exercise sessions to help with balance, strength, flexibility and endurance. In response, Foxman, a certified seniors’ fitness instructor, continues to lead the long-running Fun and Fitness session, as well as a new tai chi class. “All the residents know me and my classes, and it’s been really great for them,” he says.
Fun and Fitness, a 30-minute class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, focuses on movements that boost balance and coordination, flexibility, muscle strength and cardiovascular endurance. “I play music the seniors like, such as big band or oldies,” Foxman explains. Participants move to the music during warm-up, aerobics, resistance exercises and a cool down. “It’s fitness, with an emphasis on fun,” Foxman says.
During the new tai chi class, Foxman leads residents in 30 minutes of slow movements amid soft music. The customized program allows seniors of any ability to participate while standing or sitting. And its slow movements mean a low-risk of injury for participants. The class relieves stress, while preventing bone loss and helping with arthritis pain, Foxman notes. “And it enhances mental capacity and concentration because they have to learn the series of movements in order,” he adds.
Resident June Saxton loves the wide range of active offerings at The Gatesworth. “I’m not one for sitting down and listening to lectures, but I love the fitness classes.” She attends sessions every weekday, including cardio classes, seated exercise and tai chi with Foxman. “It’s nice and calming, and he does a little meditation with it so it’s really relaxing.” Saxton believes the class will help her maintain her balance and flexibility—while having fun at the same time. “There are a great bunch of people that come regularly, and you get to be friends with them—and the teachers remember your names, too!”
Studies have shown that working out consistently has lifelong benefits, preventing diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and heart conditions, Foxman emphasizes. “We also are addressing the No. 1 thing seniors want to work on—balance—because they are afraid of falling.” Foxman also offers personal training sessions for residents, as well as advice on wellness, nutrition and safety.
As for the future, he plans to keep expanding The Gatesworth’s fitness programming. Among upcoming offerings, he says a seminar on Happy and Healthy Aging is in the works. “We want to keep improving their health so they can remain independent.”
ON THE COVER: Among amenities at The Gatesworth senior living community, a gym and spa offer space for residents to stay active with high-energy, low-impact fitness classes. For more information, call 993-0111 or visit thegatesworth.com.