Clayton senior center shows off new classes

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Curt Yeomans


A little shimmy here, and a thrust there, peaked the interest of at least some women at the Frank Bailey Senior Center in Riverdale.

The staff of the center's new fitness facility recently demonstrated some of the fitness-related activities, such as belly dancing, that seniors will be able to participate in, when classes are scheduled to begin at the facility, on April 11.

During the belly-dancing demonstration, staff and audience members shook their hips while wearing hip scarves that were covered with small, metal disks .

Belly dancing will be part of a "World Dance" class offered at the fitness center, officials from the fitness facility explained to their audience of seniors. Some of the other offerings available at the fitness facility will include a workout class specifically geared towards men, as well as pilates, Zumba, ballroom dancing, tai chi, yoga, and kickboxing classes. Some of the classes were featured in demonstrations on Friday.

But, what were some seniors interested in taking?

"Probably the belly dancing, because I need some help with my belly," said Riverdale resident Joyce Chase, 56. "We need to work on our bellies because, at middle age, we've got all that fat around our middle sections."

While the demonstrations for the various classes were held in the cafeteria of the Frank Bailey Senior Center, and not the new fitness facility, the facility's new program manager, Tiffany Campbell, said Friday's activity was an exercise in exposing the seniors to what they can expect. She said that, despite classes beginning in the new facility on April 11, the formal grand opening is scheduled to take place on April 25.

Campbell said the purpose of the new facility is to highlight fitness and wellness activities for senior citizens who use the facility. She explained the 10-year-old senior center previously did not have much space for fitness activities, while the county's other senior facility, the J. Charley Griswell Senior Center, in Jonesboro, was built with a large fitness space included in it.

"What we're trying to have is a balance between wellness, as well as your general fitness and cardio classes, and so we like to have a nice mixture," said program manager Campbell. "So, what you see is we have our stretch and strengthening type classes, like our muscle hustle, and our personal fitness, and then we have our dance classes, like our Zumba, and our world dance ...

"The seniors typically love to dance, so that's why we have such a strong dance aspect," Campbell added. "As long as we're getting them moving, and they're having fun, they're not realizing that they're working out. And then we have our wellness aspect, so we have tai chi, we have pilates, and then we have yoga."

During the demonstrations on Friday, several attending seniors were plucked from the audience to help show off the activities. One of those participating seniors was Riverdale resident Nellie Kendall, 71, who dropped her head into her arms, and exclaimed "Oh No!" when she was picked to participate in the belly-dancing demonstration.

"It was fun," Kendall said. "I said I can't do this [when she was picked to participate], but it was easier than I thought."

Hampton resident Jackie Harris, 58, said she is one of those senior citizens who likes to take dancing classes, and thought the belly dancing looked interesting. "I dance, dance, dance all day, and all night, and if I don't dance around my house, my dog thinks I'm crazy," she said. She added she also liked the yoga demonstration.

But, Harris said she may end up crashing the men's workout class, called "Men's Muscle Hustle," to participate in some of the activities that were pitched as ways to help prevent the need for hip replacement. She said there is a history of hip replacement in her family, and she wants to avoid it.

The name of the class, however, gave her a moment of pause, before she proclaimed another reason to be interested in the class. "Men's muscle?" she asked, when she heard the name. "I want to be in there with the men!"