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Seniors make strides in fitness with classes tailored for them

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Seniors make strides in fitness with classes tailored for them

Group leader Corrine Machado-Ching works participants through a variety of exercises.

IKE DODSON/209 Health & Wellness

POSTED May 29, 2013 6:00 p.m.

No matter the age or fitness level, it’s a pretty good bet that all senior citizens can benefit from a new pair of sneakers. Or, more aptly put, a class named after the footwear   Silver Sneakers.

Case in point: 82-year-old Joanne Packer transitions between exercises with the deftness of a panther as weights, tubes and workout balls are extended to the realm of her wiry but athletic frame.

It’s hard to believe that just a relatively short time ago — before Packer was tackling the Silver Sneakers Muscle Strength, Range of Motion class at Oakdale’s Fitness Plus — she was hospitalized with a broken shoulder.

The cause of her injury is even more baffling.

“I was helping load cows into a trailer and one stuck his head under a panel I was holding,” Packer explained. “He pulled up and flipped me.

“They said I went six feet into the air but I don’t remember the flight.”

Packer is one of the star students at the local class, a unit associated with the Silver Sneakers fitness program. It’s led by licensed instructor and Fitness Plus co-owner Corrine Machado-Ching, who operates the gym with her husband Bryan.

She aptly directs the traffic of senior citizens as the group of over 25 participants work through a variety of over 40 exercises across an hour’s span on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Oakdale Fitness Plus is one of 23 nearby central valley locations to host Silver Sneaker programs. The facilities range from Tracy (two) to Turlock (three) and include Stockton (five), Lathrop (one), Manteca (three), Salida (two), Modesto (four), Riverbank (one), Oakdale (one) and Ceres (one).

Some members use the class to rehabilitate injuries, while others enjoy the added strength, agility and mobility the exercises stimulate.

“The class works your mind and body with balance, coordination and muscle strength,” Machado-Ching said after a Thursday class. “It’s also geared for people in wheelchairs, so anyone can do it.

“As you get older it is real important to keep moving and build energy.”

For Packer, the class has been instrumental in building added strength and coordination to enhance her daily life. She said it has been very important for her.

“It’s a life saver,” Packer said. “If it had not been for Corrine, then I would have been in really bad trouble, because (husband) Bill had some medical problems and I have had to physically pull him places.

“Because of this class I have felt myself getting stronger, more limber.”

Packer isn’t the only one reaping the benefits.

“When I back out of a parking space now, I can actually swivel my head around,” 75-year-old Cecelia Estrada said. “I can also reach up to get stuff out of cabinets and I have much more energy.”

The instruction is a brilliant combination of vital exercises and fluid motions to mirror important daily movements. Work with weights and tubes mimic actions like opening doors and putting on a seat belt, while precise hand and finger movements build both mental and physical dexterity.

Since it’s sanctioned through Silver Sneakers and covered by many insurance carriers, several of the members participate for free.

“It works really well with a lot of insurance programs, but anyone can come in, whether they are involved in Silver Sneakers or not,” Machado-Ching said. “It makes me happy to get more people to join.

“It’s a great atmosphere with good energy, where everybody feels good and feeds off each other.”

The class was alive with spunk and laughter recently, as members convinced onlookers to undergo exercises amidst the merriment.

“We have a lot of fun in the class, and that’s part of it,” added Machado-Ching. “Everybody really enjoys it and we have a lot of people who come back with their friends.”

To learn more about Silver Sneakers or discover nearby locations that host such programs, visit

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