Florence Phillips, 85, used to rely on her walker to get to where she needed to go.
But ever since she committed her time twice a week to attend fitness classes hosted by Jerry Vance at the Carson Senior Center, she progressed to a cane.
“Doctors say I’m looking better than most seniors,” she said.
Today, she’s already graduated from the cane and walks without support. She also can sit and rise from a chair without support, and cross her legs. Her diabetes level also decreased.
Because of the positive changes, Phillips encouraged her husband Pierre Hathaway, 86, a former master swimmer to join the class.
“I encourage every senior to be in better health and do what I’ve been doing,” she said.
Local fitness instructor Jerry Vance has been teaching for 45 years in Carson City and is a certified personal trainer. Her Sweat Shop Fitness series covers 45 minutes of aerobics, yoga and Pilates for all ages – for only a dollar, under no contract.
Vance, 77, who teaches 20 classes a week throughout Carson City, said there are four positive changes her students get from the classes, especially for seniors.
“We do a lot of breathing practices as compromises with daily tasks,” she said. “We work with posture as that affects breathing. We stretch muscles to keep the blood flowing for oxygen and we practice diaphragm breathing.”
Many seniors have seen changes in their health within three months to a year after attending Vance’s classes.
“I used to have bad asthma and I had to take medication for it,” said Jen Dunn, 75. “Now I don’t need the medication anymore. It’s amazing.”
Bev Allen, 77, started taking Vance’s Better Breathing class five years ago. Since then, she’s lost 60 pounds.
“I also had issues with my legs,” she said. “Jerry’s classes taught me how to breathe, get up from chairs, and what to do if I fall. My walking and breathing gets better and better each day.”
Although the majority of the class is aerobic breathing exercises in chairs, students practice breathing techniques by blowing into inflatable beach balls, and later use them to work with arm and leg muscles.
Karen Elliot of Minden finds the class to be beneficial for her mother-in-law, Maisie, who’s 99. She drives Maisie to the classes twice a week.
“It gives her a chance to get out of the house and interact with others,” she said. “It helps her to keep going.”
Vance started teaching fitness classes when she was 28 years old at the YMCA in Reno, and developed the Sweat Shop fitness series. She considered retiring but she wanted to keep going — and it wasn’t only because to stay fit.
“I think working with seniors and others is fun,” she said. “There’s so much experience in their lives. I enjoy the interaction.”
Vance hosts classes at the Carson Senior Center and Community Center, Plaza Retirement and Sierra Assisted Living.
List of classes and schedules can be found at carsoncity.org. Vance also can be contacted at 775-841-7312.