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Seniors serious about fitness at the JCC

Ninety-six-year old JCC Fitness Center member Marion Stanislaw is pictured working out in the JCC's adult fitness room.

She lifts 50 lbs. like a boss, does 30 shoulder crunches, and another 20 standing push-ups. She would like to do more but building muscle is not why she’s at the gym. Her real concern is balance because she is 96-years old.

“That would be the concern of any 96-year old,” said Marion Stanislaw after completing her last set on the leg press. “When I first started coming here, I was somewhat frail and unsteady but now I feel 20 years younger. My daughter says, ‘mom, you look stronger every time I see you.’”

Stanislaw has been a member of the Sam Pomeranz Jewish Community Center’s Neulander Family Sports & Fitness Center for almost a year and she says that she would recommend it to everybody.

“There is something here for everyone,” said Stanislaw. “Young, old, big, small, athletic… if you want to be steadier and stronger, [the trainers] will help you get there. If you want to lose 60 lbs., they will make sure you do it. And if you want to train for the Olympics, they will get you there as well.”

Joe Yager, Stanislaw’s personal trainer and an independent contractor with the JCC, is impressed by her enthusiasm.

“She puts in a lot of effort and she is very punctual,” he says. “But that’s not surprising. She was a nurse during World War II and she’s seen some tough things.”

Marjorie Carter (foreground) holds up a homemade Mother's Day card that she received during the JCC's May 11 Mother's Day special luncheon. Pictured in the background is Helen Marcum.
JCC Fitness Center member Esther Hurwitz works out recently during an Exercise Chair class.

Yager also works with other seniors who workout at the JCC. In addition to personal training clients, he holds a weekly group exercise class which focuses on balance and strength training through the use of a specially-designed exercise chair.

“We have a lot of fun in this class even though he makes us work so hard,” jokes Domenica Cappa, a student in the chair class. “Joe is a good teacher. And he’s funny.”

The environment of easy familiarity and comfort is not unique to the Exercise Chair class. A number of other group exercise classes like Yoga, NIA (Neuromuscular Integrative Action), Tai Chi, and Pilates are also offered and in each of those, the instructors and students work together as a team to accomplish goals of physical and emotional wellness.

And after they are done working out, some of the seniors head down to the JCC’s Anne and Hy Miller Family Auditorium for a well-balanced kosher lunch. After all, staying healthy is about both diet and exercise.

The JCC Fitness Center features both on-staff personal trainers and independent contractor trainers. The on-staff trainers are Patrick Scott, JCC sports and fitness director, and Michael Knapp. The independent contractor personal trainers are Larry Baiz Jr., John Hawley, Tia McIntyre and Ben Rayland.

For more information on senior exercise classes and programs at the JCC Fitness Center, call 315-234-4522 or email