Staying active becomes more and more important as we age. It improves cognitive functioning, physical strength and balance, and fosters rich social interaction. Luckily, Santa Barbara has some great options when it comes to physical activity, from the Parks and Recreation Department’s senior-focused programs to one-on-one workouts with a physical trainer through the new workout space and program Ageless Fitness.
According to Parks & Rec’s senior recreation supervisor, Jason Bryan, the classes and activities that seniors tend to love at the recreation centers are the following: ballroom dancing, lawn bowling, pickleball, and their stretch-and-tone class.
“Santa Barbara is unique in that we have two lawn bowling clubs,” said Bryan. “If you were overseas in New Zealand or England, lawn bowling is kind of like golf; it’s more mainstream.” However, lawn bowling is less strenuous than golf, so those with physical limitations who can’t golf can probably still lawn bowl.
Similar to lawn bowling in that it is a little easier on the body, pickleball— recently named the fastest-growing sport in the country by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association — is an excellent choice for seniors. It is played with lightweight wiffle ball and a large paddle on a half court. “We have a really strong pickleball group here in town with lots of members,” said Bryan. “You can find pickleball players just about every day at the Municipal Tennis Center.”
For those who desire a little bit more attention and guidance when exercising, Ageless Fitness, which just opened its doors this January in Goleta, offers one-on-one or small group exercise classes with trained exercise physiologist. People of all ages are welcome, but Ageless Fitness was founded with the goal of helping people who are recovering from an injury such as a broken hip or a knee replacement but need someone to “keep them on track with rehabilitation and give them continual encouragement and assistance,” said Emmanuel Verduzco, operations manager. “We’re not about crazy transformations — we’re really about the simple stuff and making sure people are able to do their day-to-day tasks.”
Trainer Julie Pollard adjusts her techniques as needed. “I take a really individualized approach when working with seniors, as often times they have different concerns, different needs, and different life-experiences with physical activity and health,” she said.
Their workout space is small, clean, and inviting. “I’ve noticed a lot of people feel uncomfortable in a typical gym setting — they feel kind of overwhelmed by having a lot of machinery or a lot of equipment or a lot of people,” said Pollard. “So we strive to have our place feel like a home.”
See agelessfitsb.com and independent.com/senior-rec.