Mary Jo Harper laughs when asked why she attends the fitness classes at Peace Village. “Let’s see,” she muses. “My stomach, my thighs, my upper arms…” She adds, “it’s important for my health and also to fit into my clothes. It also makes me feel happier.”
Fitness instructor Cam Saban agrees. “Our fitness center and classes are a happy environment. Peace Village goes above and beyond in helping our residents stay fit and stay connected. Going to daily classes or walking club meetings helps to hold friends accountable and promote social interaction. They become a family.”
Classes include tai chi, yoga, balance, and sculpt and strengthen. Participants squeeze and release muscles, perform squats, work on extensions and contractions and learn how to maintain their balance. Cam plans her classes around safe accommodations for all levels of mobility, strength and flexibility, but, she says “Our residents really direct what I teach. Sometimes they want to work on core stability, sometimes on their triceps – it all depends how the class participants are feeling that day. It empowers them to take charge of their health.”
Mary Jo has taken it one step further, creating playlists of music that Cam is delighted to use in her teaching. “Cam plays good music and I was inspired by our Music and Conversation group, so I put together a playlist using songs that include girls’ names.” Mary Jo has since created more soundtracks, blending folk songs, country and western music, and 50’s and 60’s tunes. “I include all my favorites. When I snuck in “Cross Me Over The Bridge” – I am hooked on the show “Heartland” – I got Cam hooked on the show too,” she chuckles.
Peace Village has a fully equipped fitness center that is open daily. Cam notes that some residents prefer to get their exercise in a solo setting, without the structure of classes. In the fitness center, Cam is there to help residents of every fitness level use the equipment safely and answer questions. She noted, “It’s a pretty amazing center, and we’re one of the only places in the region with an Alter G anti-gravity treadmill, that allows residents to walk safely no matter what their stability level. You just don’t see this type of equipment anywhere else.” The center has traditional treadmills, weights, cardio machines, free motion cables and more.
The walking club, says Cam, does more than just give residents a fitness opportunity. “These scheduled programs help motivate residents who might just think about moving, to actually really do it.”
Peace Village is set in lush, wooded grounds, complete with a pond, waterfall and gazebo and Cam says, “In summer, the walking club uses the path that winds around our grounds and that sparks conversations about wildlife – we see blue herons, baby ducks and all the wonders of nature.”
As an instructor, Cam is always thinking of ways to engage residents in new fitness projects. Earlier this year, she challenged residents to a Marathon Month, urging them to walk 26.2 miles in just 30 days. “One of our residents is 100 years old and she completed it. Finding what can help trigger different people is key.”
Mary Jo moved into the Village about a year ago and she’s made a set of friends through the fitness activities, including a friendship with Cam herself. “It’s the people that work here that really make this place,” she says.