YMCA arthritis class benefits all ages

Published 7:43 pm Thursday, March 28, 2013

Instructor Joyce Vaughn leads a series of resistance band exercises in an arthritis class Thursday at the YMCA of Chilton County

Instructor Joyce Vaughn leads a series of resistance band exercises in an arthritis class Thursday at the YMCA of Chilton County

Talk of Easter egg hunts and homemade cookies floated around a room at the Chilton County YMCA on Tuesday morning as members of an arthritis class sat in a circle and completed their semiweekly exercises together.

With music playing in the background, certified instructor Joyce Vaughn led the class in various range-of-motion exercises to help those suffering from arthritis manage their conditions in a safe, non-strenuous way.

Vaughn, her co-instructor Donna Williams and other class members have been a part of the free program at the Y for several years.

Although no one remembers exactly when the class was formed, they remember why they, personally, got involved in it.

“It has helped me with my flexibility, it has helped me with my strength, and when I exercise regularly it cuts down on the aches and pains,” said Betty Frater, 79, who has come to the class for 3–4 years now. “It pulls me together. I just don’t like to miss it.”

Like others in the class, Frater suffers from general arthritis and finds benefits in the range-of-motion exercises that gently work all of the body’s joints from head to toe, including the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, finders, hips, knees, ankles and feet.

Some exercises are performed sitting in a chair, while some are performed standing up with support from the chair if needed.

The class also utilizes resistance exercise bands for stretching.

“We focus on the joints and exercising all the joints,” Williams said. “The Y is very supportive of us and our adventures. We’re a pretty good group.”

Cardio exercises such as walking laps around the room are also a major part of the class, and participants are encouraged to carry weights they are comfortable with as they walk.

The class periodically invites guest speakers to visit and distribute information on different types of arthritis as well as other health and wellness topics like physical therapy.

Members make a point to participate in the Arthritis Foundation’s annual Jingle Bell Walk/Run each winter.

The class is intended for people of all ages—even children—and is not limited to arthritis sufferers; for instance, stroke patients can benefit from the same exercises.

Another aspect of the class that brings members back week after week every Tuesday and Thursday is the social advantage—the friendships that are apparent from the moment members arrive and greet each other.

“It’s a wonderful place to socialize,” Frater said. “We have fun.”

Those interested in attending the arthritis class should call the Chilton County YMCA at (205) 755-2382 or stop by the Y, located at 405 Ollie Ave. in Clanton.