Editor’s note: This piece was published in 2014, and some of the application instructions and links are dated. For the most up-to-date information and a schedule of classes, contact the UDC CAUSES Institute of Gerontology at 202-274-6697.
The New Kid
by Barbara Cline
I had a health scare last spring.
At 10 a.m. on Easter Monday my cardiologist called and told me to get to the nearest hospital emergency room immediately. My last blood test contained an alert – a 4,000-plus reading for creatine kinase, well over the normal range of 24 to 173, which could lead to kidney failure.
That blood test was pure coincidence – I just happened to have it the same week I started a vigorous exercise program. Until then, I never gave much thought to my health, which had been good.
But my family history was troublesome – it included diabetes and high blood pressure. And most concerning – both of my parents had fatal heart attacks before age 60.
But at 61, I was in denial. I was already taking a daily statin, had a waistline measuring a few inches over the recommended 35 inches and I carried more than 20 pounds of excess weight.
Fortunately my luck held that day in the emergency room. A new blood test found my creatine kinase reading had gone back to normal, and I got to go home that night.
And I woke up that day.
Last May, with the help of a trainer, I began a twice-weekly strenuous exercise program, paid more attention to my diet and today I am proud to report I am eight pounds lighter.
In 2014, I have set my goal to shed another ten pounds – and this will require more aerobic exercise. One option is to increase my training to three times a week. But training can be solitary and hard work, so I wanted to find another form of exercise that will be both social and fun.
Easier said than done- I am not a Zumba dancer (too fast) and don’t like indoor cycling classes (too intense).
So earlier this month, I was thrilled to find a low-impact aerobics class designed for seniors, and within minutes of my Connecticut Avenue apartment.
The class is part of the BODYWISE program – well-known for its popular swim program at Wilson Pool – funded by the DC Office on Aging.
I have now taken two classes on Thursdays with Pat Thomas, UDC’s 61-year-old athletic director.
The class includes stretching exercises, core and arm work and lots of movement – both marching and walking in circles. I particularly like the dance routines. I now know the two-step and the “Temptations walk” performed to Motown music. Pat is engaging and enthusiastic – and her pace is slow enough that I can actually follow the routine.
Even on these cold January mornings, more than 20 seniors turned up to exercise. Several told me that they had been coming regularly for years. The class was mostly women with a handful of men, and included a variety of ages – from the “young” 60-somethings to “super” seniors in their 80s and perhaps even 90s.
BODYWISE is also more than an exercise class. I found my classmates friendly and welcoming. After class I noticed some stopped at the Epicurean – an ideal way to find new friends in the neighborhood. There is also an active board of directors, a holiday party and a BODYWISE membership directory and newsletter.
Of course all is not perfect. The gym at UDC is on a hill behind the tennis courts. There are 60 steps – quite a challenge even for relatively fit seniors. I have asked the BODYWISE staff to post a route on their website to avoid these steps by coming from either Connecticut Avenue or Van Ness Street. The gym is noisy and it is often difficult to hear instructions. And the pace of the class is too tame for some of us. Pat has assured me she will add a microphone and will adjust the intensity of the class to meet the variety of senior exercise needs.
But overall, this is a very good deal – because the best part of all? The class is FREE for all DC seniors over 60. You can go to one, two or all three weekly classes year-round. And there is a FREE yoga class on Fridays.
So what are you waiting for? There is plenty of room. Come and join us!
My Experience As A BODYWISE Participant
by Elena Rowson
What does someone do who has recently retired, is a new resident of Washington and is looking for a good exercise program in the neighborhood? I learned from the Chevy Chase Community Center that there was just such a program a few blocks from our new home. I walked down Connecticut Avenue and after a friendly chat with the program director who described its goal of “promoting fitness and friendship on behalf of seniors,” I signed on.
It takes place three days a week at 9 a.m. on the UDC-Van Ness campus and is called BODYWISE. The program was funded by UDC’s Institute of Gerontology.
Now, after some 20 years, the late, beloved Lance Maxey, director of the BODYWISE aquatic program (in which I participated) and the departing director of BODYWISE and the Institute, Laurie Blackman Thompson, were honored in the 2014 BODYWISE Membership Directory. During those years, all of us in BODYWISE not only benefited from a professional exercise program, but got to know each other and enjoy new friendships, especially during our regular, after-class “coffee klatches.”
Also, we all pitched in as volunteers – I was a board member and am a former co-editor of the BODYWISE newsletter. Several of us have gathered annually for a New Year’s Eve dinner-out celebration.
BODYWISE has become a very important part of our lives.
What: BODYWISE, low-impact aerobics for seniors
Where: Building 47, University Sports Complex, on Yuma Street on the hill above the tennis courts.
Parking: Yuma Street and the surrounding neighborhood, including a UDC garage.
When: Three days a week – Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 to 9:45 a.m. Start any day, any time of year
Cost: FREE for all DC residents over 60 years of age.
Application: You’ll find the introductory letter and application package at UDC’s Institute of Gerontology website. Scroll down to the BODYWISE section.
Return completed form:
By fax: 202-274-6605
By e-mail: email@example.com
or return in person to UDC/Gerontology Office, Building 32, Room C-10.
Directions (avoiding the stairs): Walk behind the colorful spheres on the west side of the Van Ness Metro station to the old Metro bus turn-around area, which is to the left of the UDC/Theatre of the Arts.Go in the unmarked door with a hanging UDC sign indicating you are entering Building 42, School of Engineering and Applied Science, C Level.
Walk through Building 42 which connects to Building 32. At the elevators, there is a sign indicating the Gerontology Office is ahead. Walk to the end of the hall. The Gerontology Office is the last door on the right.