Whether you’re 50, 60 or older, Seattle offers plenty of fun ways to stay fit. Roberta Fowler of Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Lifelong Recreation Advisory Council said there are more activities for seniors than you might think.
“[We] have just about anything seniors could want,” she said. “We have exercise classes, both gym and water aerobics. We have dance classes, walking programs, book clubs and computer classes.”
Community centers in Queen Anne, Garfield and the International District offer Drop-in Fitness Center classes for $3 to those age 50 to 64; people 65 and older pay $2 per class. Seniors may use exercise machines, free weights and cardio equipment.
“One of the nice things is that if you see a class in our brochure you’d like to take but you’re not sure, you can go and take one of those [drop-in] classes for $2 and decide if you want to sign up or not,” Fowler said.
Dance classes are also available. Fowler noted that everything “from belly dancing, tap dancing and even line dancing” is offered. Line dancing is “very popular in certain parts of the city,” she added.
In the West Seattle area, ballroom dancing is offered once a month, and live musicians play for the sessions.
According to the Seattle Parks and Recreation spring activities brochure, line dancing is offered at Hiawatha, Alki, Rainier, Van Asselt, Jefferson, Ravenna and Magnuson community centers. Among those places, Magnuson offered the most line dance classes, with three.
Drop-in line dance classes are only offered at the International District Community Center, for $2 per class.
Most classes are offered in the mornings and afternoons because the evenings are often reserved
for youth activities at the community centers. Fowler is working to change this. “Community centers need to share the hours,” she said.
Community centers also offer field trips for seniors. One offered a big brunch and a visit
to a chocolate factory, while the Southwest Community Center took its seniors to a Rat City Rollergirls derby competition, Fowler said.
Field trips can include city tours, live concerts, neighborhood farmers markets.
The activities are popular, Fowler said, noting that 64,000 seniors participated in senior activities in 2011.
The benefits are many. “I think physical and mental health is important to a lot of people, and a lot of it is social interaction,” Fowler said.
Tim Pretare, acting manager of Lifelong Recreation, provided survey results from seniors who talked about their participation in activities. Of the nearly 1,370 respondents, 77 percent said that they noticed an improvement in their health status after getting involved in an activity, and 76.7 percent said they met new friends after getting involved in a new activity.
With 29 percent of Seattle’s population being 50 years old or older, Janet Rayor, fitness instructor at the Bitter Lake Community Center, hopes that seniors won’t see the day where their favorite activity is eliminated due to lack of funds from the city.
“Funding is diminishing for Seattle Parks and Recreation, which means classes for 50-plus are in danger. Like the public libraries, public community centers provide government-funded fitness classes that mean the difference between older adults keeping and significantly improving their health,” she said.
She added that Bitter Lake Community Center has a devoted group of people who attend the “Fit & Balanced” class on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Without more city funding toward senior activities, they may lose this beneficial class, she said.
For more information on activities available for seniors at the local community centers, visit www.seattle.gov/parks/seniors/index. htm. The spring or summer Lifelong Recreation brochure is available for download from the website, or pick up a hard copy at a local community center.