two active older adults stand in tree pose by a chair

Mary Walker and her neighbor, Sandy Zale, both North Brandon Family YMCA SilverSneakers® members, strike a tree pose at chair yoga class. 

Sandy Zale, a North Brandon Family YMCA SilverSneakers® member, has been quarantined like most seniors the past few months due to COVID-19. She still doesn’t like to leave her house but says, “the Y has taken so many precautions. I feel safe here. I don’t take my mask off anywhere else.” 

In order to provide the at-risk senior population an even safer space to come together safely, the North Brandon Y resumed its SilverSneakers® classes three days a week last month offsite at Seffner Elementary School to help seniors regain their strength and endurance, while reconnecting with friends at a safe distance.

"We have been honored and excited to have an active partnership with the North Brandon YMCA this year,” said Seffner Elementary School Principal Shelly Hermann. “Our teachers exercised with instructors and became excited and looked forward to the afternoons of exercise which reduced their stress. The instructors also exercised with our students after school, and they loved it! We now have the opportunity to offer our space as an extension of the North Brandon Y for the seniors in our community. We want them to be able to get out and exercise for their physical and mental health."

Sandy’s neighbor, Mary Walker, says it was hard to stay motivated at home. “It feels very good to get moving again.”

“When we started I didn’t even know where my sneakers were, honestly,” Sandy jokes. 

North Brandon Y Wellness Director Rebecca Piatt says it feels so good to see everybody healthy and doing well. “I personally worried about this group the most being in isolation and with their health being in the high-risk category.”

Gordon Christensen, 90, has been a Y member all his life. “When I was a teenager, I practically lived at the Y. It feels wonderful (to be back). I’ve been almost totally isolated for two months.” 

The group agrees it’s the camaraderie that keeps them going. “When you’re working out by yourself, you’re like, ‘ok, I can quit. I’m done,” Sandy laughs. “And when I have people looking at me, I don’t dare quit.” 

“It’s not just the workout. It’s a family,” Mary says holding back tears. “I appreciate the fact that this was really hard to set up. It means so much to us. I was so excited when I saw this was starting. So, thank you.”