By Abbey Snow
Fitness Fun at Mesquite Senior Center
As Covid restrictions have lessened, the Mesquite Senior Center has gradually opened up their in-person fitness classes to the delight of both the instructors and students that attend the classes.
Griseyda Belalcazar is the Senior Services Supervisor with the Athletics & Leisure Services Department, Senior Services Division.
“The students and instructors are very grateful to have the classes resume,”Belalcazar said. “I have heard many comments on how not being able to attend the fitness classes because of Covid have affected their lives. Some of those comments were: ‘We were just going crazy being at home and not being physically active; Our bodies felt the couch potato state we were in; We regressed so much from all those years being active; These classes are what’s keeping us alive; Being active and challenged is what gets us going in the morning; We look forward to all the classes.’”
Belalcazar said the Mesquite Senior Center shut down on March 17,2020 and ceased holding fitness classes when the pandemic began. They opened in September 2020 with limited classes where each person had to keep a six foot distance. As of July 2021, they opened the entire center, however card playing was still being restricted. As of September 2021, the center has resumed all the activities they previously held.
When holding fitness classes at the center they had to follow certain protocols for safety. Masks were mandated and class size was limited to a workable capacity. It was up to the instructors of how many students they felt comfortable having attend their class at any given time. Instructors would listen to their students’ concerns, if any. The instructors were responsible for sanitizing any piece of equipment used for classes so it was ready for the next class. They have sanitizers all over the fitness room for everyone to use. Sanitizer solution and paper towels are used to clean chairs and tables as they are being used. The entire room is sprayed down and disinfected so it is ready for the next day of classes, Belalcazar said.
Many seniors who attend fitness classes at the center have had various positive results.
“Their hard work pays off every time they have a doctor’s appointment because it comes with praise and admiration,” Belalcazar said. “Their doctors tell them to keep doing what they are doing because their blood pressure and blood levels have improved drastically for some. Some have been fighting cancer or arthritis problems for years and they vouch that the best medicine for them is coming to class. Some walked with assistance and now they no longer need a cane or walker. Their cognitive skills and balance have improved 90% from doing exercises. They admire all the instructors that have taken the time to teach these wonderful classes. The instructor’s are much loved by their students.”
Sweatin to the Oldies, Dance Aerobics, Strength Training,Gentle Yoga, Chair Yoga, Yin Yoga, Qi Gong (Yoga Medley), LifeForce (breath exercises, meditation, body work) fitness classes
Betty King is a fitness instructor who teaches a variety of classes at the Mesquite Senior Center including: Sweatin to the Oldies, Dance Aerobics, Strength Training that is geared for those over 50 using weights and mats,Gentle Yoga, Chair Yoga, Yin Yoga, Qi Gong (Yoga Medley), and LifeForce ( breath exercises, meditation, body work).
King is a nationally certified massage therapist (deep tissue, neuromuscular, Swedish). She also has certifications in Kundalini Yoga, Yin Yoga, Reiki, Therapeutic touch and Group Dance Performance.She first started teaching at the Mesquite Recreation Center about 15 years ago. Among those classes were: Sweatin to the Oldies, Yoga, and chair exercises for the elderly. She began teaching at the Senior Center in 2020 and has added the strength training class this year in January.
“The classes I teach are designed for the aging body to keep it supple, strong, flexible, and happy,” King said. “ My intention is to make the classes fun while enjoying all the benefits of exercise. My classes are for everyone. I include modifications for each person’s level of ability. The music for Sweatin to the Oldies is, as it says, oldies music. It’s fun and upbeat. We laugh, hula hoop, dance, and sweat while we enjoy the music of yesteryear. The yoga classes meet each student where they are physically able to do.Each class is like a family, a family that has fun together. ”
King said in the strength training class they use hand weights, floor mats, and their own body weight to increase strength and flexibility. The class includes squats, planks, various forms of abdominal strengthening, and upper body strength. Options of modification are given to meet each student’s physical ability.
“The LIfeForce class encompasses the total human experience of body, mind,and spirit,” said King. “ A set of exercises may improve and strengthen the immune system, a particular organ of the body (such as liver, kidneys, heart, lungs etc.), a system of the body (such as digestion, circulation, metabolism) or the emotional body (depression, grief, anger, anxiety). The set of exercises, breathwork, and meditation combine together to focus on whatever the particular class is targeting. Meditation includes many forms such as: chanting, mudras (hand positions), conscious breathing and stillness.”
King explained the difference among the various forms of yoga she teaches are:
Gentle yoga: A general whole body stretching and lengthening of muscles. Attention is given to spinal flexibility, proper body alignment, and major muscle groups. We occasionally take some time to work on balance. Class is 45 min.
Chair yoga: All the stretching that can be done standing or sitting or lying down and modified to achieve from a chair. We also may stand behind the chair to use it for support for a particular stretch.
Yin yoga: Is different from other active forms of yoga. It is passive in nature, bypassing the muscles and targeting the tendons, ligaments, and joints – the structure that supports the muscles. Poses are held typically for 2-3 minutes or more. It is very quiet and meditative. Modifications are given to either lessen or increase the intensity of the pose.
Qi gong: Is similar to Tai Chi but is the Chinese form. We do what is called the Golden Eight sometimes in the Gentle Yoga class. It is a series of 8 movements that brings the body into balance.
Each fitness class Betty King teaches is a complete session, so anyone can drop in at any time. Her classes are all 45 minutes long except for the LifeForce class which is 1 hr. 15 min.
LifeForce: Thursday 7:30 a.m. – 8:45 a.m.
Sweatin to the Oldies: Mon/Wed/Fri 8:00 a.m. – 8:45 a.m.
Gentle yoga, Chair yoga, Yin yoga, Qi Gong: Mon/Wed/Fri 9:00 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.
Strength Training: Tues/Thurs 9:00 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.
Fees for each class are:
Sweatin to the Oldies – $35 a month or $5 drop-in fee
Gentle Yoga – $35 a month or $5 drop-in fee
Strength Training – $25 a month, $5 drop-in fee, or $20 if added with another class
LifeForce – $85 for 10 classes or $10 drop-in fee.
For more information, contact Betty King at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fall Retention and Balance Classes
Sue Loe is a fitness instructor at the Mesquite Senior and Community Center.She is a certified Instructor through a national program called Fitour, as a “Primary Group Exercise Instructor” and a “Core and Functional Fitness Instructor” with emphasis on the Senior Population. Additionally, she has received certification in “Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance.”
Loe currently teaches “Fall Retention” or “Balance,” with an emphasis on teaching the skills and techniques that will keep the Senior population safe and healthy.
“In the Fall of 2018, I was asked to fill in for an instructor of a senior class who was scheduled to have knee replacement,” Loe said. “ Upon her return she resumed her classes and I was able to develop a class that I was thrilled to do. I was always hearing stories of friends or reading about seniors who had fallen and fractured a hip and were hospitalized. This was my chance to hopefully make a difference.”
Loe researched information from the Center For Disease and Prevention that states: “Each year,millions of older people fall. And falling once doubles your chances of falling again. Three million are treated in emergency departments for injuries caused by falling. Over 800,000 of these people are hospitalized, often with a head injury or hip fracture. At least 300,000 are hospitalized for hip fractures. More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling. Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI). In 2015, the total medical costs for falls totaled more than $50 billion. Medicare and Medicaid paid for 75% of these costs. Many people who fall, even if they’re not injured, become afraid of falling. This fear may cause them to cut down on their everyday activities. Because they are less active, they become weaker and increase their chances of falling again. This weakened condition may also result in the need for assisted living.” ( https://www.cdc.gov/falls/facts.html)
“I was so taken by these facts that I immediately began to research additional material that would assist our Senior population to avoid these serious consequences.” Loe said. “Starting with two muscle strengthening programs utilizing balance techniques, I expanded this using exercise balls, bands, weights and eventually tennis balls and bean bags to expand on and utilize the basic balance program. I then added in some cognition exercises in order to incorporate some thinking, and remembering activities into the curriculum too. The last addition, being chair volleyball, has certainly been the class favorite. It is undoubtedly the one routine that utilizes every physical and cognitive skill we have learned including balance, rules, teamwork, success, disappointment, and a most important skill so lacking in many seniors, the ability to socialize and truly enjoy each other.”
To her knowledge, Loe doesn’t know of any classes taught in person or online that incorporate these proven skills and benefits.
Loe said that if an exercise is too strenuous,interferes with any treatment process, or can’t be accomplished by a student then they aren’t expected to complete that activity. She has a few students in the class this quarter that are in their 80’s and one gentleman in his 90’s’. If a student has a permanent disability that will prohibit him or her from gaining benefits from the program, that student will be asked to discuss this situation with the instructor and the Senior Citizen Director.
“I believe that the fun aspects that this program incorporates is the inclusion of periodic related outside information that is brought to class for discussion as well as the shared personal successes and experiences that are related,” Loe said. “ Additionally, the feeling of relaxation and success the students feel after completing any segment of the class is another positive result.”
Most of Loes’ class students are monthly participants. Classes are held on Monday,Wednesday, and Friday from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m. Monthly fee is $30/month. Students can drop in for a $5 fee.
Those interested in attending may visit Sue Loe at the Mesquite Senior and Community Center M,W,F before or after class 9:00 – 10:00 each day, or just drop in and join us. The first two classes are free.You can also call her at 208- 521-1291.
Zumba Gold Fitness Classes
Cindy Conti is a Zumba Gold instructor at the Mesquite Senior Center. She received her certification to teach both Zumba and Zumba Gold in 2013. She teaches Zumba Gold on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 – 9:45 am.
“Zumba Gold is a dance fitness class that uses Latin and other international rhythms to get you moving to the beat,” Conti said. “ You burn calories, improve cardiovascular fitness, strengthen muscles, and most importantly have fun. No dance experience is required. Zumba Gold was created for older, active adults looking for a modified Zumba class at a lower intensity.”
Conti said Zumba was introduced 20 years ago and quickly became an international fitness sensation. Zumba Gold was launched following Zumba’s popularity to meet the needs of those looking for a lower impact fitness activity. The atmosphere in the class is more like a party than a workout class. They call it ‘exercise in disguise’ because you don’t realize you’re working out and before you know it the class is over. Students lose themselves in the music and leave class feeling less stressed.
“The Latin rhythms and other international rhythms are the foundation of the class,” Conti said. “ It’s easy to have fun when your only goal is to move to the beat. One minute you’re doing a salsa and the next a belly dance. It’s so much fun that you don’t realize you’re in a fitness class. It doesn’t matter if you do all of the moves the right way. We encourage students to shake it at their own pace, slow down if they need a break and leave their cares behind. It’s a great form of therapy without the therapist.”
The Mesquite Recreation Center offers Zumba but not Zumba Gold, so this class fills a void for the city of Mesquite, Conti said.
“The class I teach is a new class that started at the end of January2022,”Conti said. “I heard that the Senior Center might be interested in a Zumba Gold instructor so I met with Griseyda and Krissy to offer my services as a volunteer. I’d been looking for a volunteer opportunity in Mesquite, and as a licensed Zumba instructor it seemed like the perfect fit.”
Zumba Gold is designed for older adults, those who are new to exercise or those looking for a low impact class. It uses the same music and moves as Zumba but at a lesser intensity and more moderate tempo. No dance experience is required, just the desire to move to the beat and have fun.
Cindy Contis’ Zumba Gold class is Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 – 9:45 am. The class is free and anyone can drop in, no registration is required. For questions, contact the Mesquite Senior Center at (702) 346-5290.
“I have the best group of ladies teaching these classes this center could have ever wished for,”Belalcazar said. “They are so positive, happy and full of energy! They are loved by all! If you have not attended any of the fitness exercises at the center, please do so. I guarantee you’ll love them! Every instructor has their own special way of teaching classes, and most of all we have a little bit of everything from relaxation classes to dance classes! We even have a very well attended Chair Volleyball. Come on in and join these amazing instructors have fun! Classes are designed to have fun, laugh and make new friends.”
The Mesquite Senior Center is located at 102 W Old Mill Rd, Mesquite, NV 89027. Phone (702) 346-5290
Betty King teaching her various classes at the Mesquite Senior Center
(Photo Credit: Griseyda Belalcazar)
Cindy Conti teaching Zumba Gold at the Mesquite Senior Center
Sue Loe teaching Chair Volleyball at the Mesquite Senior Center
(Photo Credit: Krissy Thornton)
Griseyda Belalcazar ( left) poses with Krissy Thornton( right)