A focus on senior fitness

Rosemarie Hinderer, Erin Cass and Cathy Peirolo chat following Cass’s introduction of the SAIL program at February’s Philomathic Club meeting. (Empire Press photo/Karen Larsen)


By Karen Larsen
Empire Press Correspondent

Alice Ruud, Ann Whitehall and Shirley Smith have refreshments following the Philomathic Club meeting Feb. 20 at United Lutheran Church. (Empire Press photo/Karen Larsen)

Erin Cass, executive director of the Wellness Place in Wenatchee, would love to build flexibility, strength and increased fall-resilience into Waterville’s senior citizen population. Cancer support is probably the best known mission of the Wellness Place, but healthy aging is a second prong of the nonprofit’s mission. As part of this mission, they organize a number of fall-prevention programs in North Central Washington, including a program with the acronym SAIL (Stay Active and Independent for Life).

Judging from the number of Waterville residents who showed up Feb. 20 for an informational meeting hosted by the Philomathic Club at United Lutheran Church, a solid group of residents are on the same wavelength as Cass.

Cass told the group that the program is structured to run one-hour sessions between two and three days per week, and would be led by volunteers who are trained in the fundamentals of the program, in CPR and in exercise safety. Cass assured the group that volunteers do not need to be in excellent shape, but just need to be willing to learn and able to lead classes.

Each SAIL session consists of a 5-8 minute warm-up and an 18-20 minute aerobic session. It finishes with work on static and dynamic balance, strength training and flexibility training. All these aspects have been shown in research studies to work together to prevent falls. Exercises are adaptable to the current physical condition of the participant and to those who face physical disabilities.

The Wellness Place provides all of the equipment necessary for the classes as well as the training materials needed for the volunteer instructors. Classes are free for participants, and though designed for those aged 65 and older, they are open to adults of all ages who feel they could benefit from the program.

The group response toward the idea of having the class in Waterville was very positive. Several of those who attended commented that they would be much more likely to participate in the class if they didn’t have to travel out of town to do so. In the next few months, the group is going to work on gathering two to four volunteers that could work together to teach three classes per week. The next training for instructors will be held April 10, so it is hoped that those interested in being the first teachers for the Waterville class can be present at this training.

The group also agreed to work on finding a good location for the class.

Several people expressed interest in going through the training, but more volunteers are still welcome. For more information on volunteering to be an instructor, contact Cass at 888-9933.