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Seniors Stay Connected Through Center Programs
The familiar toe-tapping beat of 'The Macarena' had senior citizens out of their chairs and swaying to the music, going through the motions of the popular dance tune of a few years ago.

Then it was on to the 'Hokey Pokey' and a little bit of a slower pace.

Through it all, the local seniors were keeping their blood flowing, their joints limbered up and their spirits buoyed.

Senior citizens taking part in the recent Thursday morning exercise class at the Escalon Community Center agreed that the twice-weekly class is important for many reasons.

"It gives you someplace to go," said Erma Jeanne Barton, who started the Senior Gentle Exercise Class with Lena Doyle more than a dozen years ago. "If you live alone, it gets kind of boring."

The Tuesday and Thursday classes run from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and focus on stretching, strength and conditioning, helping the older generation stay nimble and keep active.

Barton, who is spry at 89, said the class even has exercises you can do while sitting down. She continues to help run the class, while Virginia Ferreira leads the music portion.

"I like keeping active," said attendee Lorraine Spangenberg. "It has helped me health-wise, and I like the socialization."

Chairs set in a circle, the program attendees first warm up by stretching and doing a variety of strengthening exercises. Music comes later and includes a little bit of everything, from the big band swing music to the motion and movements songs like the Macarena.

Barton closed the Thursday class with some deep cleansing breaths and a little meditation.

"Be thankful that we are alive, and in this country," she told class attendees as they closed their eyes and powered down from the class.

Not everyone is able to stand for all the songs, but the bulk of the attendees do join in every exercise.

"It gives me company, I like it," said Connie Bader.

Class members also keep tabs on each other, with a few out sick on Thursday, and the class welcoming back Mary Herrero, returning after having surgery.

"We've got room for a lot more," Barton said.

Ferreira said everyone that comes to the class seems to get something out of it.

"I think it's a combination of keeping up with the exercise and the companionship of the ladies in our age group," she said of what keeps people coming back.

There is no cost for the program, and all seniors are invited to come and give it a try.

"It's very good for people to be active," added Barton.

Many of the class participants also stay for the Tuesday and Thursday senior meals at the Community Center, which are served at 11:30 a.m. and dovetail nicely off the class.

The hot, nutritious meal is served at low cost and is another way for seniors to socialize.

"The food is wonderful and the service is great," Spangenberg said of staying for lunch.

Program coordinator Sandy Rigg said they are in need of more volunteers for that program as well.

"Our current need is for someone to be responsible for Thursdays only," Rigg said.

The Thursday assistant would work from about 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Ideally, Rigg said, they would like a couple of volunteers so the workload could be shared.

"We have some that are willing to help, but don't want the responsibility of being there each week," Rigg noted.

Potential volunteers can call Rigg for more information at 838-2770.