Staying in shape

Erika Puch

Students help adults exercise during class in Gym Annex

Nora and Sanford Marovitz, of Kent, take part in the warm-up exercises during a class in the Kent State Gym Annex. Students of the School of Exercise, Leisure and Sports adapt exercises for senior citizens of Kent and surrounding areas. (Below) Bridget G

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Three times a week, sports, leisure and exercise students show up for class. But instead of taking notes, they gain hands-on experience helping older adults improve their health.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, students help with the programming and leadership of an exercise program at the Gym Annex designed for individuals over 60. The program is part of the Practicum in Exercise for the Older Adult class. The program aims to improve the quality of life for senior citizens by building strength and improving balance and flexibility.

Participants first begin their workout with warm-up exercises and then move on to various activities like pilates or yoga. During this portion of the program, participants may choose to break into small groups or work with students individually. The activities are followed by a cool-down session, which graduate student Judi Juvancic-Heltzel said helps seniors return to a resting heart rate.

With the help of students, senior participants are able to work with different exercise equipment like flexible resistance bands and weighted balls. Each different exercise tool strengthens a different part of the body.

Students and other instructors are focused on ensuring the safety of the senior participants during the exercise program. Before seniors can participate, they must have permission from their physician. The participant’s blood pressure is checked and students are made aware of his or her medical history. Everyone who supervises the sessions is CPR-certified.

“If you screen the patients right, there is not a high likelihood that anything could happen,” said Ellen Glickman, who oversees the program.

Students administer a pre- and post-test to the participants. Participants are tested in strength, cardiovascular, balance, agility and flexibility, which allows senior citizens to see if they have improved through the course of the program. The test also enables students to see what fitness level the participants are at. Everyone is different, Glickman said. Some seniors require special attention.

Nora Marovitz has been participating in the senior exercise program since she retired in 1998. Her husband first came to the program and convinced her to join him. She said the program has been very beneficial.

Marovitz’s favorite part of the program is the exercises guided by the students.

Tiffany Collinsworth, a first-year doctorate student, teaches the course and preps her students during class time before they go to work with the older adults. This includes role-play and learning how to handle any questions that participants have.

“You have to learn the stuff, because you will be doing it an hour later,” Collinsworth said.

Contact Student Recreation and Wellness Center reporter Erika Puch at [email protected].