BY MONICA SZAKACS
BRIDGEPORT– As Latin flare pumped through the iPod speakers in a small exercise room, five non-resident club members grooved to the music during a Zumba Gold fitness class at The Watermark at 3030 Park’s Vitality Fitness Center.
Josephine Olsen, a 74-year-old Fairfield resident and first-time participant, said she loved every moment of the class. “It was easy to follow and she (the instructor) went at a good pace,” Olsen said. “I didn’t want to go to any local gyms because I didn’t think I could keep up with the younger folks, but I wanted to be active.”
Watermark at 3030 Park is a community for seniors that offers independent living, assisted living, skilled rehabilitation and memory care that first opened in 2006. About three and a half years ago, the Vitality Fitness Center opened up as part of The Club, which is a 20,000-square-foot wellness center.
The club includes a resort-style salon and day spa, Gallery Cafe, heated indoor pool, locker room facilities, fitness center with equipment designed for active older adults, personal trainers and exercise classes taught by nationally certified fitness instructors.
Watermark wanted to reach out to the 50-plus community with a less intimidating and comfortable setting to exercise, according to the Cindy McGuire, fitness director. Last week Vitality Fitness Center hosted an open house for more non-residents to have the opportunity to become members.
“Fitness is extremely important for all ages,” McGuire said. “You’re never too old to exercise and you’re never too old to get the benefits of exercise.”
As people get older, McGuire said their bone and muscle density and skin elasticity decreases. Keeping the body in motion, such as cardio workouts and working out the muscles with weights, help in these issues as well as other medical problems.
Other targets that the fitness center focuses on are stretch and balance.
“All the classes implement some type of balance and stretch, but we have one class that specifically targets stretch and balance,” she said.
McGuire teaches three classes: stretch and balance, splash fitness and fun aerobics. She said it makes her happy when the older community benefit from the programs.
“I like to see members come in and two to three months later they have results, such as climbing stairs without huffing and puffing or they’re able to decrease their medication,” she said.
Although McGuire does not instruct zumba gold, taught by Suzanne Palazzi, she said it is her favorite class because of the music and moves. Palazzi said zumba brings pleasure to all walks of life.
David Carasso, 89-year old Bridgeport resident, and his wife Colette Carasso, 77, said the zumba gold class is a full body workout. Carasso said she feels good when she gets home. “My favorite part is the whole thing, but the stretching really puts the icing on the cake,” she said.
“It’s worth every penny, especially when they start to shake, because it’s a sight for sore eyes,” Carasso said.
The Carassos said the fitness center is interested in their health and constantly monitor the members. “Exercise is tedious and I’ve been to many gyms before, but here there is a welcoming aura and a comfortable non-judgmental environment,” Colette Carasso said.