Three times a week in the Mature Action Community (MAC) class at Meadow Park Sports Centre, seniors work hard to stay fit so they can play hard in Whistler.
There aren’t many places where older people are as fit and healthy as our town. As Sara Niblock, one of the instructors said, “Seniors here live such an active lifestyle; They still want to ski the powder and charge hard. They take fitness very seriously.”
The participants range in age from mid-50s to mid-80s. Some of the older members are among the fittest in the class. Heather, in her mid-50s said, “This 55-year-old can’t hold a plank position like that 80-year-old!”
Although the majority are women, men make up about a quarter of the class. I first noticed the workout group hanging around outside the Meadow Park squash court. I was curious. They were having a good time, but seemingly ignoring the squash. It turns out, the hardcore sign up the day before or come about an hour early to register for the 9 a.m. MAC fitness class because it’s so popular. There are limited seats on the bus — especially on days when the skiing is bad. As one of them said, “On a good day, half the group would be up the hill.”
Sara, the instructor, enjoys the challenge of helping seniors keep healthy and active. “This is a really fit group of seniors,” she said. “But there is a range of ages and fitness levels in the class, so I’m careful to modify and adapt depending on individual situations. They chat a lot, and laugh a lot, but they work really hard. As long as they’re moving, I don’t mind.”
The focus of the class is to increase and maintain strength, balance, coordination and flexibility, all of which are important at any age. As we get older, it’s easy to lose fitness and mobility if we aren’t intentional about maintaining it.
If, for example, you slip on the ice in the parking lot, you will be much more likely to recover and prevent a fall if you have good balance and coordination. Or if you’re skiing in icy conditions and lose an edge, you will have a better chance of regaining control if you have the strength and confidence that comes with being in good shape.
Because there are three instructors, the format of the class varies. Often it starts with a warm-up to music — great rock ‘n’ roll tunes the day I observed. Then the class moves around in groups of four or five to a series of stations featuring a variety of equipment —balance balls, weights, medicine balls and mats. Instructions are simple, challenging and clearly explained. The instructor moves around encouraging and modifying exercises for those with specific limitations.
An hour and a quarter later, the class ends with stretching and cool-down exercises. Then, as they put on jackets and boots, there is chatter about meeting for coffee or heading up for a few runs. These people are on the move!
Of course, seniors are welcome to take any of the many fitness courses offered at Meadow Park. But other opportunities designed specifically for seniors include Zumba Gold and Zoomers on Weights. Although not specifically for seniors, Beginner Yoga and Chair Yoga attract an older crowd.
There will be a new men’s yoga class beginning March 4. If you are interested in using the weight room, consider a free 30-minute orientation. Those with cardio issues will benefit from the excellent Strong Hearts Healthy Lifestyle program.
Whistler is the best place in the world to get fit and stay fit. The MAC class at Meadow Park is a great place to start.
Check out the Meadow Park Recreation Guide (online or from Meadow Park) for more information. Details of seniors’ classes are on pages 42 - 44.