Laura Turner, who underwent a partial leg amputation surgery, takes part in the last class on March 10 of a 10-week chair exercise series at the Salmon Arm Recreation Centre led by Sandra Fromme. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

Salmon Arm seniors take a stand to continue chair exercise program

End of popular 10-week series leaves participants wanting more classes

Like the music, the mood was upbeat.

Sounds of Abba’s Dancing Queen filled the gymnasium, with people chatting and laughing as they chose one of the chairs arranged in a large circle.

This was the scene on March 10, the last day of a 10-week series of seniors’ chair exercise classes held at the Salmon Arm Recreation Centre.

As she was preparing to join the circle, participant Shirley McClean took a moment to say that she has been participating in the class since the beginning.

About three years earlier she had hired Sandra Fromme, the instructor, as a personal trainer to help her lose weight.

“So I have pretty much tried to follow her around and do all the classes she does. She’s really, really good,” McClean said.

McClean is one of the people lobbying to have Fromme’s chair exercise classes continue.

For this 10-week series the rec centre donated the space, Fromme donated her time and participation was free. However, the gymnasium is booked for other programs so a new room is needed.

“Right now we are not too sure how we’ll continue,” Fromme said.

“We’re thankful the rec centre has sponsored this room for us…We are looking for a room, we’re looking for sponsors, maybe there’s a grant out there, I don’t know. Maybe there is someone that wants to donate a room for the seniors here in Salmon Arm to support their health and fitness.

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Fromme also teaches Choose to Move and ActivAge at the rec centre, two linked programs delivered by the BC Recreation and Parks Association in partnership with the Active Aging Research Team at the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility.

However, there appears to be nothing ongoing that is similar to the chair exercise classes.

McClean said the classes have made a positive difference for everyone.

“This group has been just a riot. We’ve had so much fun. Some of the stories… Sandra asked everyone how it’s changed them, and some of the stories are quite amazing.”

But I find overall for most of them it’s about getting out.”

Fromme said the classes provide help with diet, balance and stability, flexibility and with staying mentally alert.

“Also what a lot of people said is that they have a joy back of belonging…”

Participant Laura Turner, who underwent a partial leg amputation surgery, said the classes have been really good for her.

Fromme points out the program is set up for people of all abilities and can be modified to meet individual needs.

Barry Dunphy, who is 90 and a relative newcomer to the classes, said he’s a little awkward with timing the moves, but he really enjoys them. He, too, hopes they’ll continue.

“I live alone, so it’s a chance to get out of the house. I think this is great!”

Janice Hamilton, who is also advocating for the classes to continue, points out that they started with eight people and, through word of mouth, on the final day there were 24.

“I have a hip problem but I’m so much more agile than I was when we started in the fall…I’m 100 per cent better. I think every person here would say the same thing.”

During the last class, to a hearty round of applause, Fromme told everyone, a little tearfully, how much she has appreciated being part of their lives.

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Barry Dunphy, 90, enjoys the last class of a 10-week chair exercise series at the Salmon Arm Recreation Centre. He hopes the classes will continue. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

Marilyn Allbury gives a good stretch during the last class on March 10 of a 10-week chair exercise series at the Salmon Arm Recreation Centre led by Sandra Fromme. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

Janice Hamilton, who would like the classes to continue, takes part in the last class on March 10 of a 10-week chair exercise series at the Salmon Arm Recreation Centre. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

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