To commemorate National Health and Fitness Day, held each year on May 30, we checked in with clients from the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Senior Services to see what they do to stay active and engaged.
The Center offers more than 100 different activities and events each month for LGBT seniors, including support groups, health and fitness classes, and various cultural workshops. Classes this month included beginning tap dancing lessons, chair yoga, country line dancing, juggling, ballroom dancing, hiking, as well as Qi Gong, a holistic system of coordinated body posture and movement, breathing, and meditation.
“One senior came up to me who had never done line dancing before and told me that he’d found his groove for the first time in his life,” says Kiera Pollock, the Center’s director of Senior Services. “You should never discount how committed and interested and excited the seniors are in diversifying their lives and creating something that helps connect them to each other and to themselves.”
Pollock has noticed an increase in participation in health and wellness activities in general.
“We know that getting out, moving, connecting with other people and learning and laughing is what we need to do as we get older,” she says.
Tap dance class instructor Lauren Peterson jokes that “there are actually almost too many activities to do.”
“It’s like, ‘When do we fit tap class in? We have to do it after chair yoga and we don’t want to interfere with juggling,’” she says after spending an hour in a juggling class at the Center’s Village at Ed Gould Plaza and before heading downstairs to the art gallery to lead more than a dozen fellow seniors in beginning tap dancing.
“I feel it’s important for seniors to stay active for their quality of life,” Peterson says. “We’re getting up, we’re active, we’re improving our own health, and forming community.”
Kenny Navran, a student in the tap class, says he’s wanted to learn to tap dance for 25 years and is thrilled to finally be doing it.
“It’s a pretty good workout—I never sweat anymore at my age,” he says. “This class is turning into one of my major exercise routines of the week. It’s not just fun, it’s good for you physically and mentally. It requires a lot of thought to do the steps correctly and in time.”
Larry Rubenstein, who was practicing alongside Peterson in the juggling class, says that the more he feels like he doesn’t want to exercise, the more he realizes he has to.
“I think our bodies are ready to close down after 50 and you have to force yourself to stay active to keep yourself going,” he says.
Fellow juggling class participant Phyllis Rose-Child agrees.
“I have a policy that I have to leave the house at least once a day. It is a quality of life issue,” she says. “I love coming here because there are so many different things to do and to learn and it challenges me every time. It doesn’t matter if I’m perfect at it or not.”