Health Page: Get Into Shape For The New Year With A Community Center Exercise Class

By: Elizabeth Van Wye

A past chair yoga class at the Chatham Community Center. FILE PHOTO

With the new year and the new decade, many of us will be making resolutions to get fit and stay in shape. Participation in a regular exercise class can be a good way to set fitness goals and stay on track.

The Chatham Community Center is home to 11 different fitness classes and is one of the most affordable options in the area, according to Georgia Farrell, Chatham's recreation program supervisor.

"We offer classes for the masses," she said with a smile. "The classes are affordable and welcoming," she added, noting that they are also a great way for friends and neighbors to gather socially.

More than 84 sessions are offered monthly and all take place in the Center's aerobics room. "It's a beautiful room," Farrell said, "with windows on three sides and a specially constructed wooden spring floor that is cushioned and gentle on the knees and joints."

Offerings range from aerobics to zumba, with multiple line dancing, senior fitness, circuit and yoga offerings in between. Eleven different classes are offered and participants range in age from the 20s to the 80s. There are evening and weekend offerings that meet the needs of working participants, as well as daytime morning and afternoon classes.

"You don't need to be a Chatham resident to take a class," Farrell stressed. "The instructors pay a fee to rent the space from Chatham but anyone can come." Fees range from free to $10 or so per class. Dropping in is welcome; participants will need to complete a brief registration form.

The newest offering is "Lifestyle Weight Management Exercise Class." Starting on Jan. 15, the class runs 4:30 to 5:15 p.m. on Wednesdays through the first of April. Taught by Carol Gordon, a certified trainer, the class will combine nutritional information with exercise for better weight loss. The 12-week session is $75 and space is limited. Preregistration at is required.

Zumba classes, taught by Tina MacDonald and Amanda Constant, are held Wednesday evenings from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and Saturday mornings from 9 to 10 a.m. and are wildly popular, according to Farrell. "With their music, we always know when they are in the building," she added with a laugh. Zumba incorporates lively Latin dance music into an exercise routine and the results are infectious, prompting a participant to write "I love the dances and I work up a great sweat!" The fee is $5 a class.

Maybe your interests are more towards ballroom line dancing. If so, certified dance instructor Karen Shackleford hosts two ballroom line dancing sessions on Tuesday mornings. "Whether you like the smooth waltz, the energetic salsa or the upbeat swing, you'll find just what you are looking for," she wrote. "No partner needed; this is a solo dance class."

Perhaps a Tai Chi course is more what you'd like. David Vincent, a certified Coast Guard Auxiliary instructor, recently took over leading the class when longtime leader Gerry McDowell could not continue. Held every Thursday from 11 a.m. to noon at no charge, Tai Chi includes slow movements done with the body's weight to give a stimulating workout that strengthens the lower body. A participant wrote that the class provided "healthy benefits for mind and body."

Perhaps all this talk of fitness and exercise has made you want to head for the bar, but wait—there's a class for you, too. Well, not the Squire kind of bar, this is Barre Above, the kind that ballet dancers use to limber up. Portable Barres are used for low impact exercise to help improve posture, flexibility and balance. According to Deborah Hanley, the certified Barre Instructor who leads the classes, participants will "have a blast to great music and lose weight by lengthening and strengthening." Classes are offered Mondays from 5:45 to 6:30 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 to 8:45 a.m. and Thursday again from 10 to 10:45 a.m.

In addition, the community center offers several yoga sessions, including stretch yoga classes as well as a grief yoga class, convened monthly in partnership with Broadreach Hospice. A chair yoga course is taught by Jennifra Norton every Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. This class offers those who either cannot or choose not to get down on the floor the ability to realize the benefits of yoga. Gentle stretching and movement are included to increase range of motion.

Additional daytime offerings include Senior Lite Fitness, Small Group Circuit, Totally Fit Aerobics. For more information or to register for a course, go to

The Harwich Community Center also offer a variety of exercise classes for all ages and skill levels. For more information, visit