BA Senior Center: Find Your Happy Place or Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

If you were thinking that the Broken Arrow Senior Center is experiencing an influx of people enjoying programs, activities and fellowship, you’d be right. People make the decision to join the Center every day so they, too, can be physically active and socially engaged.

They come to the Center to exercise their minds and their bodies. Historically, the majority of new members join in the winter – January, February and March – and summer – June, July and August.

I’m not sure what to make of these statistics. On one hand, it appears that people make New Year’s resolutions. Then, when the winter hibernation is over, it’s time to take stock and start working off those winter pounds. That’s pretty sound logic if you ask me.

“I can just exercise at home.”

I’ve been there. I’ve been there many, many times. I’ve often made the decision to take control of my health. But that’s just the start. Next is the follow through, which is the hard part.

At home, exercise is free, convenient and always there for you. But for many people that isn’t enough, probably because your options are to exercise at home by yourself, go jogging or join a crossfit/boot camp or health club – unless your spouse or partner bought you a Peloton.

That could be why more than 80% of people who decide to get in shape fail to achieve their goals. A key factor to success has to do with where people choose to exercise.

At home, I take a horizontal, non-moving, deep breathing, silent-meditation, yoga class every day. It is delightful!

It is also a workout routine I can commit to completing because exercising at home can be distracting. Between my wife, daughter, dogs, cats, RING doorbell, TV, computer, smartphone, dinner dishes and laundry, it is hard to focus.

The BA Senior Center is a better option. Why? Scientific studies continue to show that participation at an activity center can have several significant health benefits. The fun and friendship are ever-present. People who work out with a group reach their goals more often than those who don’t. Working out doesn’t have to be just exercise classes. You can work out your mind playing cards or with crafting, puzzles, photography, crochet, guitar, ukulele, singing, creative writing and many other activities that are socially focused. There’s not much aerobic activity in going “all-in” on a poker pot or yelling “bingo.”

As I’ve brought up many times, active members can improve how their brain works. Regular attendance at BASC can enhance your creativity, extend your life and improve your mental and physical vitality, not to mention your mental acuity.

You can establish, maintain and foster relationships. If you’re not at the BA Senior Center, then you might spend up to 10 hours a day alone.

At home, I take a horizontal, nonmoving, deep-breathing, silent-meditation, yoga class every day. It is delightful!

Yes, I know I already typed that line – just seeing if you’re paying attention. I’ve made that statement several times in the past month. I usually get blank stares, but occasionally someone will recognize that I just described taking a nap or sleeping. Stats don’t lie – every time I participate in that activity I’m successful. And I always feel renewed, rested and relaxed.

Giving in to “mind over couch” syndrome is not the best example to set as the director of an activity center for older adults. That’s why being at the Center every day, I find myself surrounded by like-minded people who have either found their happy place or are motivated to break out of their comfort zone – including me.

Last month, I tried my hand feet at Line Dancing for Fitness. It was only for 10 minutes, but Peggy Day and Jewelee Houston saw me. By the time you read this, I might have given it another go. Maybe 20 minutes this time – but I’m having ice cream after: two scoops.

But could I do more? Fitness for Ladies meets three days a week. Not being the right gender, I’m not sure what goes on in there. Maybe I’ll start a Fitness for Men class. As long as there’s coffee and an agreement never to discuss our feelings, I bet the activity would be popular.

I wonder if I put in a horseshoe pit or cornhole boards outside if I’d have members join me. If you’re interested, please let me know.

What a Way to Start 2020!

Eight new fitness classes. What a way to start 2020!

On Jan. 6, more than 240 members took part in our fitness classes. When I started in 2018, we only averaged 250 people a day the BA Senior Center. Last month we had nearly that many in one room! That doesn’t count the members who played pool, cards, games, puzzles, crafts, novel writing, book club, tap dancing or anything else.

Thank you for your patience as well as your input that helped craft the new lineup – these additions were a long time coming. Fortunately, we had the space and flexibility to add additional opportunities for our members.

Member Feedback Welcome

The board of directors is making it easier for members to share their opinions, concerns, praise or suggestions. At the beginning of every board meeting, patrons who wish to address the board during “comments from the audience” can sign in during the 15-minute period preceding each regularly scheduled meeting. This provides members with an opportunity to address the board early in the agenda and ensures that the board hears issues that are important to members while having a structure to keep the meeting moving.

Improved Computer Access

We recently added two computer stations in the front of the Center near the lounge.

Check stock prices – go ahead. Research new cars – please do. Order groceries for pick up – absolutely. Look up airfare to Las Vegas – if you feel lucky. Play games – why not?

From Sudoku to hand-held games, people have been looking for ways to improve their mental functioning. It’s possible that games may help improve your memory and logic skills.

The research isn’t clear concerning whether games help. According to a few recent studies, while these brain training tools might help sharpen your ability to retain information, they won’t necessarily increase your intelligence or improve your ability to recall, think or reason.

What the research doesn’t say is that it can’t hurt – plus playing games is fun.

I start every day with two games of Solitaire, two crossword puzzles and two sudoku games. I’d play Words with Friends, but I’m short on friends, so I play against the computer – or, in this case, the app. And I love trivia games.

You can keep your cognitive skills sharp if you make puzzles and games part of your regular routine. You just need to keep your brain active and challenged to stay mentally active every day. Consider some of the following tools:

Sudoku is a number placement game that relies on memory. To complete a Sudoku puzzle, you have to look ahead and follow trails of consequences – If a 3 goes here, then a 4 must go here and that makes this square a 7). I tell myself that Sudoku helps me improve short-term memory and concentration. At the very least, it gives me something to do while I drink my coffee.

Crossword puzzles are a classic game where you access words, language and multidimensional knowledge. You can find an endless list of free crossword puzzles online. The AARP website also offers a free daily crossword.

Reading. Start or join a book club. Here at the Center, the Circle of Readers group meets the first Monday of the month.

Attend lectures. We have a monthly health and wellness seminar with our partner, Hillcrest South. We also offer additional topics, such as this month’s Social Security checkup and the shoe fit clinic in March. If you’re looking to improve your cognitive self, you can play games or do puzzles. You can also go for a walk, go for a run or socialize with a friend.

What? Yes, you read that right.

Tap dancing, two-step lessons and Zumba can stimulate your brain as much as doing a puzzle – even if you have two left feet. Yoga, tai chi and line dancing can give you as good a brain workout as a computer game. And that takes us back to the 240 people who took fitness classes on Jan. 6. Regardless of what you do once you walk in the doors, the BA Senior Center provides a safe place for older

Do You Have the Want-to?

Last month, I met a new member before her first Zumba class. “Doris” was looking forward to the class but was a little nervous. I told her that she’d already done the hard part. She raised her eyebrow at me and I replied, “You got out of bed, out of the house, in the car, out of the car and in the Center. You’re home free.”

I thought I was clever. I thought she’d agree. I thought we’d just walk to class.

Instead, Doris hit me with some knowledge. She said that, “It takes 21 days to adopt a new habit or to drop a bad one. And it takes more than two months – 66 days – before the new habit becomes as automatic as breathing.”

“Let’s have this conversation in February,” she added.

Now I could have dazzled her with my New Year’s resolution knowledge, but I opted to pass. Why? Because Doris probably already knew that a substantial 80% of all New Year’s resolutions end in failure, and more than a third don’t even make it past January.

So, instead I responded, “Yes, let’s.”

My Grandpa Vick once gave me some sage advice: “If you’re going to have a life worth living, you have to have the ‘want-to.’” At the time I was maybe 15 years old. My life was pretty simple. It consisted of collecting baseball cards, playing soccer and mowing lawns. I had a life, but I hadn’t really begun the living part. Looking back on this interaction with Doris, I can see that we were both right.

If you make the decision to get out of the house and take charge of your life, you need to have the want-to – the want-to do more. You want-to come explore some activities at the BA Senior Center. And once you’re here, you need the want to to come back time after time.

In this new year, commit to having the want-to. If you know of someone who should join the Center, show them what want-to looks like. Make a difference in your life and in the lives of others. If you do that, then it’s bound to be an upbeat 2020.

More To Do At The Center In 2020

BA Senior Center members asked for it, and now it will become a reality! Jan. 1 will not only usher in a new year but also expanded programming at the Center.

In the past year, an array of card games, including poker, canasta and pinochle, have been added, along with other activities. Our commitment to provide educational and other special programming has also continued.

We have not, however, had the space or time to add more exercise activities. For example, Limited Exercise is nearly at capacity and Zumba Gold passes capacity each spring. As more members take advantage of the opportunity to be active, other classes are filling up. We’ve heard from our members and look forward to adding even more activities that will help us fulfill our mission of providing a safe place for those 55 and older to be physically active and socially engaged.

Check out the additional activities that will be added to our programming calendar after the first of the year: Zumba Gold morning sessions; Chair Yoga; Yin Yoga; Self Defense and Tai Chi; Tai Chi for Better Balance; Chair Tai Chi; a Two-step Dance Workshop; and Line Dance for Fitness.

Staying active can help lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and other health issues. Physical activity also improves your strength and balance so you can prevent injuries and stay independent. The benefits of staying active don’t end there; it also improves your mood and your ability to think, learn and make decisions. Continue reading to learn more about the activities being offered on our expanded calendar.

Zumba Gold – This fast-paced activity is the perfect option for seniors who don’t enjoy lifting weights or going on long walks. In addition to being great for the body, Zumba Gold can also enhance emotional health while providing a low impact form of exercise. Studies have shown that Zumba Gold enhances cardiovascular health, muscular strength and endurance and improves range of motion and posture, in addition to reducing stress, depression and anxiety.

Chair Yoga – Chair Yoga is practiced sitting in a chair or standing, using a chair for support. It is especially beneficial if you have limited mobility or if you want to practice yoga while at work. Yoga is an excellent way for older adults to loosen and stretch painful muscles, reduce stress and improve circulation. It also reduces anxiety, helps lower blood pressure, protects joints and builds strength and balance Yin Yoga –

Yin Yoga is a slow-paced style of yoga that incorporates the traditional principles of yoga with postures that are held for longer periods of time. The benefits of Yin Yoga are that it calms and balances the mind and body, reduces stress and anxiety, increases circulation and improves flexibility and joint mobility.

Self Defense and Tai Chi – This class, designed specifically for seniors, will teach the basics of self-defense. Seniors will also benefit from added strength and confidence. The self-defense class will be followed by a Tai Chi class. Tai Chi provides substantial benefits for seniors. Its simple, gentle and fluid movements are exactly what the body needs to remain loose and flexible.

Tai Chi for Better Balance – One-third of all adults 65 and older fall each year, and 20% to 30% suffer moderate to severe injuries such as bruises, hip fractures or head traumas, resulting in significant disability, loss of independence and early admission to nursing homes. Tai Chi for Better Balance is one of the scientifically tested and proven interventions that is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an effective community-based exercise program to prevent falls in older adults.

Chair Tai Chi – Doing tai chi while sitting helps older adults get all the health and wellness benefits of tai chi without the risk of falling. Seated tai chi is also a great exercise option for older adults with limited mobility. Two-Step Dance Workshop – If you have always wanted to learn the two-step, this workshop is for you. Whether you think you have two left feet, know the basic moves or really know how to burn up the floor with the two-step, this workshop is an opportunity to learn and spend time with others who want to enjoy this dance. No partner? No problem. Having a partner is not required to attend this class.

Line Dance for Fitness – If you love line dancing and you are looking for more of a cardio workout, Line Dance for Fitness may be for you. It’s similar to the Beginning Line Dance class, but it moves twice as fast and offers more dances.

We want to continue to hear from our members. If you are interested in attending any of these classes, let us know by signing up in the office. Some of the classes, including Zumba Gold, Tai Chi, Tai Chi for Balance and Line Dance for Fitness, are already offered during specific days and times. These classes will now be available on new days and times.

The future is bright at the BA Senior Center, and we look forward to continued growth and meeting the needs of our members. Watch your January newsletter for the update on new and expanded class days and times.