As Marvin Gaye croons in the background a group of six seniors do seated flutter kicks, move their arms like they’re jumping rope, and twist from side to side.
SPIRIT Club trainer Deonta (Dee) Thurman calls out, “It’s time for your favorite thing. What is it?”
“Going home,” quips Kevin Adams from the back row as the room erupts in laughter.
The class is held at Model Cities Senior Wellness Center, a program of Seabury Resources for the Aging in DC. The seniors who attend the 45-minute class each Tuesday and Thursday are blind or have low vision. They do their exercises from a seated position while Dee calls out instructions and moves around the room to help them position their arms and legs correctly.
The class is funded by a Spirit Club Foundation grant in partnership with CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield. It was originally intended to start in 2020, but the pandemic delayed the start until the end of 2021—and then had to be briefly paused due to the Omicron variant.
Now back in full swing, the group is learning functional exercises that will help them in daily life.
For Kevin, the pandemic was marked by boredom, lack of normal routine, and recuperating from a surgery for cancer.
“Being here helps me be motivated again,” he said. He began the class in January and is seeing a change in his stamina and range of motion.
It’s also a way to reconnect socially after being isolated for so long.
“We talk a lot of trash,” Kevin said, noting that Dee laughs along—and dishes it back by adding seconds to their workouts.
The class wraps up with stretching before most of the participants move to another part of the center for more socializing and activities. As much as they talk trash and tease, they’ll be back next time.
“It’s something to look forward to,” Kevin said.
Spirit Club Foundation’s mission is to build healthy communities by providing access to fitness and wellness opportunities for people with disabilities. Each year, the Foundation’s scholarships and grant programs help more than 250 people in the Greater DC metropolitan region improve their physical, mental, and social/emotional health.