BLUE EARTH - "You come once and you get hooked on it," said Jane Simon.
She and Dottie Lawson come regularly to the Silver Sneakers exercise program led by Michelle Hall at the Faribault County Fitness Center on Monday and Wednesday mornings.
About 20 attend the classes, which started in October, and Hall wants more people to know about the benefits of exercise, so she's scheduled an open house for the Silver Sneakers on Wednesday and another open house for the new walking and running club on March 26.
Jane Simon does a low-impact exercise in the Silver Sneakers program at Faribault County Fitness Center.
Exercise is important for everyone, but especially for seniors, Hall said.
"The Silver Sneakers program is for older, active adults to help get them more mobile, improve agility and flexibilty," she said, adding the low-impact aerobic movements help them with everyday tasks, like buckling seatbelts.
"It helps them with everyday life skills and strengthening for bone density," Hall said. "Maybe they'll lose a little bit of weight, improve blood sugar, help their cholesterol."
Simon recently had knee surgery and uses the low-impact exercises to strengthen her knee and restore her balance so she can get back to showing horses.
"It's strengthened my knee a lot," Simon said.
"I'm more mobile all day. (It's) just been great exercise, head to toe," said Lawson. "I've found I don't do it on my own."
Lawson said others in the class have various physical ailments, like rotator cuff problems and Hall "adjusts the program to fit people's needs. If somebody can't do it, nobody looks down on you."
"We do something different each time, so it's not the same boring old thing," Simon said. "The music makes it fun."
"It's twice a week; most of us wish it'd be more," Lawson said.
For those who want to try it, Hall invites everyone to come for the open house Wednesday and take part in the Silver Sneakers class at 11 a.m. for free.
"I encourage them to bring their insurance card so I can see if they qualify to go to class for free and have membership for free," Hall said, adding people should consult their doctor before starting an exercise program and a signed waiver is required.
Anyone signing up for the Silver Sneakers program gets to use the Fitness Center for free, including the weight room and walking on the track. Another benefit is that Silver Sneakers is a year-round program.
Hall, who is trained in group fitness and became a personal trainer 10 years ago, got the Fitness Center qualified to offer Silver Sneakers last summer.
"I had to take their training courses," she said. "They want everyone teaching the Silver Sneakers classes the same way all over the nation."
Hall wants to expand the offerings to seniors and plans to start a seniors yoga class. Like the Silver Sneakers, the yoga class will use chairs instead of having the participants get down on the floor. The Fitness Center will offer water aerobics in the summer and will start the walking and running club next month, "so people can meet others who walk or run," Hall said.
"I don't think people know how many walks and runs are in the area," she said.
That information and more will be included in packets that will be available at the open house.
"We'll do different events as a group," Hall plans, including meet twice a month to "show people where they can walk, maybe incorporate some potluck."
The first event is April 1, a "no fooling" 2-mile walk or 5K run at the Blue Earth Fairgrounds. Participants should meet at the Fitness Center at 5:15 p.m.
"You don't have to be a runner," Hall said. "It's family-oriented and lots of races have kid runs included."