Instructor Brian Sugiyama leads his students in stretching exercises during a seniors’ fitness class at the activity centre at Bowen Park earlier this month. The classes emphasize strength and balance.

Instructor Brian Sugiyama leads his students in stretching exercises during a seniors’ fitness class at the activity centre at Bowen Park earlier this month. The classes emphasize strength and balance.

Active life: Seniors can work out their minds and bodies

NANAIMO – Classes at Bowen Park activity centre help with balance, fitness and strength.

City of Nanaimo Parks and Recreation department fitness class offerings are proof that you’re never too old to get active.

There are classes for seniors and Brian Sugiyama, a B.C. Recreation and Parks Association registered fitness leader, says they are available to Nanaimo Harbour City Seniors members, with people as young as 60 years and as old as 85.

“The classes I offer are related to toning and strengthening using resistance work with bands, body weight and with hand weights … and that’s all to strengthen bone health, joint health and just generally help them with a minimal amount of cardio work – I try not to have a whole lot of high impact at all.

“It’s a low-impact class. We work with mats, we work with bands and use the ballet bars too,” Sugiyama said.

Two things are key, Sugiyama said: to have people work on resistance, but also work on maintaining equilibrium.

“We do some resistance work, but we do it with balance and I have them bring one leg up and they’re standing on one leg while they’re doing a bicep curl, so it’s really important to conceptually get the balance because as older adults, a lot of people lose their balance abilities,” said Sugiyama.

On top of improving balance, there are other benefits of being active for people of this age group, Sugiyama said. Improving physical health and strength in everyday life are among other benefits.

“The other thing that it helps, there’s been proven research done on the fact that exercise maintains and keeps people’s cognitive abilities … Having to do the routines and remember some of the things and exercise itself keeps the mind sharp,” said Sugiyama.

Sculpt and Tone and Fitness for Balance and Mobility are classes that Sugiyama teaches and beginning in September, he will teach Easy Morning Fitness classes as well.

“That’s for people who are just getting started into fitness and … any of the classes, if someone feels they’re not comfortable moving to the floor and to mats, [he or she] can stay in chairs as well,” Sugiyama said.

Shirley Worrall, one of Sugiyama’s students, said she enjoys the classes.

“It sort of covers everything,” said Worrall. “You get your stretches and you get your cardio.”

For more information, please see the activity guide under the Parks and Recreation tab at

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