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10/31/2013 9:05:00 AM Email this articlePrint this article 
Senior ladies work it all out

Sebastian Moraga
Staff writer

It's heavy business, it's serious business. Nine gals in a circle, the youngest of the bunch a spry 74 years old, lifting weights, lifting heels, lifting necks.

A couple of chairs sit empty, but the room feels anything but. Janet Sears, the youngest and the instructor of the group, picks out exercises from a book, and does the countdowns. The rest of the women provide the commentary.

"Nope, we don't have any men, just us girls," said Evelyn Davis, longtime stalwart of the Senior Activity Center, which houses these workouts. "the men are too chicken."

The workouts seek to improve flexibility and agility, not muscle, said Sears, who trained with people from all over central Washington to be able to teach this class. Seventeen people signed on, but about 10 show up for the classes. On this day, the class has nine.

"They must have heard [the press] was coming," Davis said with a laugh.

The free classes, called SAIL (Staying Active and Independent for Life) began four months ago on Tuesdays and Thursday mornings, and most of these girls are faithful attendees. One, Lois Yeager is the newbie, having joined in early October. Since she started late, she does some of the exercises without weights.

"We don't want to scare anybody," Sears said. Yeager said she loves the class, which last about 30-40 minutes each.

All the women had to be cleared by a doctor in order to participate, and the instructor is trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, CPR, just to be safe. Participants also have to sign a liability waiver form, Sears said.

This bunch sweats, but rarely stops. Dorothea King is the group's eldest, having been born in 1923.

The women work abs, triceps, biceps, calves, wrists, hands, with the help of nothing but two weights and a chair.

After a while, a man comes in, the legendary Gene Preheim, another longtime center member. He sits, watches, and ponders whether he should join in.

"Most of the men who come in, just sit, watch and cheer," Davis said. "Or jeer."

The humor is nothing unusual. This is a high-endorphin count room. In other words, these ladies feel good and they want you to know it.

When someone in the room said, "I wish we could turn back the clock, about 10 years," the response, instead of a chorus of 'me too's, was a deluge of "not me's, including King's.

"I love it," said King. "Why would I want to be younger? I'm 90 and I'm having a wonderful time. I think it's great."

Sears agreed,

"Why would you want to go through what you went through already to get where you are now?" she said. "Not again."

Besides, the farther away you are from the year you were born, the more people want to help you up or down the stairs or in or out of a car or a store, said Joyce Somers, another geriathlete, who spelled her last name in the most remarkable fashion.

"S-O-M-E-R-S," she quipped. "you send a rich, handsome man along, and I will change my last name."

Sebastian Moraga can be reached at 782-3781 or

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