March. March. March. Punch. Punch. Uppercut. The gym rumbles in military time. But these are no soldiers and Theresa Webb is no drill sergeant. These are septuagenarians and arthritis patients. Webb, 41, is an Aging in America senior exercise instructor.
“Remember your comfort zone,” she calls out. “March. March. March.”
Aging in America on Pelham Parkway hosts senior exercise classes on Wednesday and Thursday mornings. Webb, a former Gold’s Gym trainer, is the instructor on Thursday mornings.
“She’s very good,” John Mastropolo of Astor Place said.
Mastropolo, 76, joined the class when his wife passed away. It was 2005 and he could barely stand straight, Webb remembered.
“I had bad knees,” Mastropolo said. “I had a bypass (surgery). I was in bad shape.”
On Thursday, October 22, Mastropolo stood beside a metal chair and marched.
Aging in America has hosted senior exercise classes for more than ten years, executive vice president Linda Martin said. Alan Peck is the other instructor. Aging in America plans to add more senior exercise classes soon. The city Department for the Aging, the Arthritis Foundation and Senator Jeff Klein fund the classes. For years, Klein has set aside $5,000 for Aging in America – $2,500 for senior exercise. The senator recently increased his support; he set aside $15,000 for the senior center in 2009 – $5,000 for senior exercise.
“The senior exercise program is an essential component in helping to keep our seniors healthy,” Klein said. “I am proud to support such a wonderful program and I will continue to support it for senior centers across [Senate] District 34.”
Nancy Sampson of Parkchester, who described her age as “70-plus,” has arthritis in her knees and back. She finds the Aging in America class inspiring. Webb leads exercises designed to beat arthritis: the head turn, the ankle alphabet, the cat claw.
“It doesn’t help to stay home and feel bad,” Sampson said. “You need to push.”
Sampson could barely walk when she started at Aging in America. Today she belongs to the “Seniorettes” dance troupe. Her children and grandchildren are thrilled.
Angela Nespoli of Mount Vernon, 69, also suffers from arthritis. Webb has helped her regain strength and range-of-motion. Willie Scott of Co-op City exercises at home, thanks to Webb, who leads eleven classes around the Bronx.
“She motivates us,” Scott said.
Exercise is important for seniors; it adds to quality of life and lessens arthritis pain, Martin said. Seniors (55 and older) may sign up for Aging in America senior exercises classes at 1500 Pelham Parkway or by phone at (718) 409-7971. Martin thanked Klein, who visited Webb’s class to present a giant $5,000 check. Webb enjoys herself as much as Mastropolo does.
“It feels good to see the seniors get better,” she said.