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The Sassy Sandpiper: Sneaking Up on Wellness

Ballet SLoth | Sassy Sandpiper | Health

The Sassy Sandpiper takes the first steps to a healther lifestyle.

By M.R. Wilson, Columnist, TB Reporter

Since I move with the energy and enthusiasm of a three-toed sloth, with the “aches and pains” era setting in, I need ways to fend off encroaching decrepitude. Occasional walks at the Raymond H. Neri Community Park (I affectionately call “Ray’s Place”) will not revive my ballet dancer ideal. We’re talking serious tutu issues here.

I didn’t “feel like” going to my first exercise class at the YMCA-Lealman Exchange, courtesy of SilverSneakers, a benefit offered by many insurance plans to folks 65 and older. Then I remembered my uncle’s encouraging words: “Wonderful idea for you to start training. We need it as we move into these upper decades.”


I felt nervous and self-conscious, wandering through the newly minted facility, located at 5175 45th Street North, St. Petersburg. A kindly participant offered direction. A warm welcome and great “oldies” (what else?) music put me at ease. 

Group exercise instructor Karen Shubin, 56, cheered on our small co-ed group in a routine that was gentle and slow enough for me to keep up. Sort of. I soon realized how uncoordinated I was and how frequently I lapsed into my own thing, doing a little dance in la-la-land. My hand-eye coordination leaves a lot to be desired, as tossing around a soft medium-size ball demonstrated. Karen was kind and no one laughed.

In 45 minutes we also worked out with hand weights, resistance bands (grateful I did not slap myself in the forehead), and our own sweet unencumbered bodies, seated and standing (jiving). Water and rest breaks as needed. Everyone moving at his or her own pace.

SilverSneakers | Health | Wellness

Don’t believe the mood-elevating effects of exercise? Trust me, it really happens. Most of us have heard of  “runner’s high.” I was amazed, truly, to experience a calm energy and heightened interest in things after my SilverSneakers workout. It was fun!

Yoga classes are offered, also. No yoga pants (horrors!) required, just the same loose, comfy clothes worn to exercise in (and special socks knitted by my cousin Jill). Instructor Ginny Jackson’s joyful presence guided us through a simple but surprisingly effective session of stretches and hand and foot massage with these nifty little “prickly balls,” aka Rubz message balls.  It is possible to feel relaxed and energized at once. Sixty-two years young, Ginny radiates peaceful vitality. Participant Sue Moehring, 78, identifies herself as a “snowbird,” and has enjoyed SilverSneakers classes for four years. She resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, and loves her three-month stays in Florida.

Yoga Sloth | Health | Wellness

There’s more to come at SilverSneakers in Y-Lealman Exchange. I’m hoping for ballet classes. In the meantime, we may “increase energy, decrease stress, prevent illness, maintain a healthy weight, find personal balance, and enjoy quality time with family and friends at the Y! We combine spirit, mind and body in an integrated approach to well-being that goes beyond fitness.”

(“Classic Exercise” Tuesday and Thursday, 10:30 a.m. Yoga same days at 9:30 a.m.)

Sassy Sandpiper | M.R. Wilson | Lealman Exchange | SilverSneakers | Tampabay News

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The Sassy Sandpiper: Sneaking Up on Wellness
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The Sassy Sandpiper: Sneaking Up on Wellness
The Sassy Sandpiper takes the first steps to a healther lifestyle.
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TB Reporter
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