Warren Senior Center's fitness class is a big hit, and a big help

By Manny Correira
Posted 2/22/24

“I’m so grateful to these exercise programs at the senior center,” one participant said. “I can dance again. I can’t explain the joy I feel to move without pain once again.”

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Warren Senior Center's fitness class is a big hit, and a big help


It’s been a very enjoyable and busy winter at the Warren Senior Center, especially from an exercise standpoint, where a number of local residents take part in the weekly Strength and Balance Class with most rewarding results.

According to Senior Center Executive Director Kyra Little, the program has been a great success ever since it began several years ago.

“The concept for the strength and balance class began when I worked in a physical therapy office years ago,” she recalled. “I enjoyed working with the senior population and was asked to develop a program that would help seniors who had finished their physical therapy sessions but wanted to continue working on strength and balance.”

One such participant who benefited from this program was Warren resident Paula “Cricket” Rezendes, a four-year member of this class, who suffered a duodenal ulcer and multi-trauma injuries to her sacroiliac bone following a car accident.

“I had pain from both of these joined in the center of my body, causing me to double over in pain and to use a cane for two years,” she remembers.
“Physical therapy, pain medication helped some,” she continued, “but neither problem went away. I added Turmeric and omegas to my diet, drinking half of my body weight in water every day and added four mornings of exercise. And, of course, dancing with my café cart every morning has been a bonus workout.”

Thanks to the Strength and Balance Class, Cricket has been off her cane for about four months, inflammation is reduced, and she’s lost a total of 18 pounds.

“I’m so grateful to these exercise programs at the senior center,” she smiled. “I can dance again. I can’t explain the joy I feel to move without pain once again.”

As Kyra Little pointed out, she took the concept of a regular circuit workout class and adapted it for a fun senior partner workout.

“I used upbeat music from the 1950s-1980s, combined with stations targeting the goals of balance and strength, and added the fun flare of themes,” she said. “In the wintertime we use fake snowballs and in the summer we have surfboards. There is always something unique and fun to expect at the Warren Senior Center every Friday morning.”

This class has always been well-attended and very popular. In 2023, Kyra brought the class to Bristol Parks and Recreation as well. The class reportedly was well-received in both locations.

When Kyra became the new director of the Warren Senior Center in August of 2023, she wasn’t able to continue teaching the classes on a regular basis. Enter Warren native Valerie Tavares, an experienced fitness class instructor and regular attendant of the class who agreed to continue teaching the class at the Warren Senior Center.

“She’s been doing a phenomenal job,” said Kyra. “Everyone in the class loves her. I am so grateful for Valerie who continues to provide this essential class for the senior population and anyone in need of balance work.”

Valerie says she’s delighted to be part of this important program.

“I’m a retired nurse who really enjoys helping these people during these exercise and balance sessions,” she said. “I love this community and all the people who live here.”

The weekly exercise regime for all these ladies (and a few gentlemen) include heel/toe, snow ball toss, raise heels/bend lower knees, ball between legs, step-ups, eights, straps, side twist, life knee, and rest/dance.

“Strengthening balance and gait is a key factor in preventing falls, therefore, preventing injuries,” said Valerie.

Kyra Little said any senior 55+ (and younger if disabled) who is interested in joining these Friday morning sessions at 9:30 a.m. are invited to observe or try the class for the first session for free at the Warren Senior Center, 20 Libby Lane. After that, the cost is only $1.50/member per class.

In conclusion, the Warren Senior Center Strength and Balance program has lived up to its reputation as wonderful outlet for those who wish to take part in a partner workout where socializing and exercise co-exist in a friendly atmosphere.

2024 by East Bay Media Group

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.