CANTON — It takes three meetings a week to keep some senior folks feeling good, fitness instructor Nathan Brandon said.
The Body Recall free exercise program he leads meets at the Malon D. Mimms Boys & Girls Club gym, 1082 Univeter Road, Canton on Mondays, Wednesday and Friday mornings for a one-hour physical routine that focuses on strength, flexibility, balance and coordination.
The program is provided by Cherokee County Senior Services, which provides a range of services to older adults in Cherokee County and maintains an events calendar for Canton, Ball Ground and Waleska.
Brandon says he started the group five years ago to share the information he learned years ago, when in 1986 he went to Berea College for training in the Body Recall model for older adults. The reason for exercise in this age group is to keep seniors independent, said Brandon.
The Body Recall concept was developed by Dorothy Chrisman in 1979 as a form of exercise for older adults who experienced little to no exercise options due to ill health, limited flexibility or sore joints.
Chrisman’s exercise program consists of gentle and paced movements that are designed to improve circulation to all parts of the body and doesn’t threaten the heart. There’s an added benefit of provided socialization as well.
Brandon, a former Minister of Education of First Baptist Church in Canton in the 1980s, leads the 100-participant group of seniors that sometimes can vary in size depending on the weather and vacation schedules. Ages vary too, with participants ranging in age from 50s to 90s.
Norma Patton says she’s come to exercise since the program started. “The whole gym fills up, rain or shine. It’s not about losing weight. The goal is to feel good and gain independence. The relaxation is important too,” said Patton.
The group begins each session by walking several laps around the gymnasium to get their bodies limbered up for stretching and the hour-long exercise routine.
Brandon goes through a series of movements that work the body in all four core areas. The non-stress routine is fun, especially with a couple of jokes added in for good measure.
A wind down period follows the activity indicating the end of the routine. Brandon asks everyone to close their eyes and follow his voice guided relaxation prompts as a way to decompress and give pause before venturing out into the day.
Brandon checks pressure points in the shoulder blades of participants for any tense knots. “It’s a meaningful way to end the experience as well as cool down. Dorothy Chrisman developed it as part of each class. Many seniors no longer experience touching unless they visit their physician and this is a way to include the human touch in an appropriate way,” said Brandon.
The CCSC also provides a comprehensive source of information about services in the county and throughout Georgia. A table containing announcements lets people know about upcoming events like Bingo or any other communications from CCSC.
Brandon encourages everyone to donate toilet paper and paper towels to the collection in the front of the gym for seniors the organization serves. Delivery of paper goods donations can also be made to CCSC at 1001 Univeter Road, in Canton. For more information on CCSC services, visit www. cherokeega.com/Senior-Services/ index.php