Senior FitnessBy Martha Barksdale

With age often comes wisdom, and many of Atlanta’s senior residents are smart enough to know that they need to work at staying healthy and active so their golden years can truly be golden for as long as possible.  Residents of the city’s senior living communities and patrons of its senior centers can avail themselves of a variety of wellness offerings, ranging from chair aerobics to nutrition classes to 21st century fitness utilizing Wii to play a virtual sport with real physical benefits.

Helen S. Mills Senior Multipurpose Facility: Seniors who visit the Helen S. Mills Senior Multipurpose Facility in Atlanta have many opportunities to keep fit. They can enjoy water exercise classes in the heated pool or engage in programs at the fully-equipped fitness center. Many health education classes are offered, including healthy cooking classes. A medical clinic is on site, as well. The facility is run by Fulton County. 515 John Wesley Dobbs Ave., Atlanta, 30312, (404) 523-3353.

Decatur Recreation Center: The Decatur Recreation Center sometimes refers to its seniors as “KeenAgers,” and that’s the approach they take to growing older. Line dancing, bowling and billiards are just some of the activities that keep them moving. The Stride Walkers gather twice a week to stroll on the Agnes Scott College track or at the Decatur Gym, depending on the weather. Meeting once a month to hear programs and learn more about a healthy lifestyle, the KeenAgers group is open to Decatur residents and non-residents alike. 231 Sycamore St., Decatur, (678) 553-6547.

Lenbrook: Buckhead-based Lenbrook just finished a $100 million-plus expansion project that includes the addition of a 25-story tower with sweeping views; Garden Court apartment homes overlooking a landscaped plaza with putting green and outdoor kitchen; and a Wellness Center which includes a spa, fitness center, heated indoor pool and hot tub. The Wellness Center also offers on-site hearing, foot and eye doctors and registered nurses, along with personal training, immunizations, dietitian appointments, salon services and fitness classes. Classes include Tai Chi, line dancing, zumba, yoga, water aerobics and putt-putt, as well as educational health fairs and presentations covering a variety of issues common to mature adults, while salon services include reflexology, manicures, pedicures, and massages. 3747 Peachtree Road., (404) 233-3000.

Parc at Buckhead: Encouraging physical, mental and social well-being is what Angela Butler-Hackett does in her job as corporate wellness director for the Parc Communities. The residents of these communities just finished a busy Active Aging Week, which touted the benefits of all forms of wellness. In addition to exercise, health fairs and nutrition classes were part of the fun and learning, and the week ended with a ball.  The residents of Parc at Buckhead have a variety of activities at their disposal, Butler-Hackett noted, ranging from traditional exercises classes for people of all abilities to Tai Chi to Zumba. A new computer-based gaming system is helping the residents maintain “brain fitness,” too, Butler-Hackett said. The computer-generated exercises help keep memories sharp by working the brain. 650 Phipps Blvd., (404) 442-2700.

Calvin Court: How important is staying active? Just ask Calvin Court resident Gerri Gibson. “Exercise is what keeps me going after having three hip replacements and two knee replacements,” she said. “Remember,  if  you don’t use it, you lose it.” Losing it is exactly what she and her fellow exercisers at Calvin Court are trying to prevent by participating in the facility’s busy schedule of activities.  This fall, patrons of the Calvin Court Senior Wellness Center are competing in the Turn Back the Clock Fitness Challenge.  Wellness Director Barry Nave says the idea is to go back in time to a younger you. Participants can earn points for cardio exercise, group exercise classes, resistance training and playing games. Prizes will be awarded, but the number one incentive, Nave says, is to feel younger and stronger. The Calvin Court Wellness Center is open to persons 62 or older, even if they are not residents of Calvin Court. 479 East Paces Ferry Road., (404) 261-1223.

Canterbury Court: More than 40 different classes and programs keep residents of Canterbury Court active, says marketing director Barbara Prasch.  From water aerobics in the heated indoor pool to rehabilitation after knee and hip replacements, Canterbury Court meets its residents’ wellness needs through a variety of resources. Each resident is able to meet with the wellness director to get an individualized exercise program to use in the community’s fitness center.  “Strength, balance and endurance are what we emphasize,” Prasch said. “Balance is so important to prevent falls. We always are offering educational programs, too,” she noted. Not all the exercise has to be done indoors. The 11-acre grounds at Canterbury Court feature walking trails, too. 3750 Peachtree Road., (404) 261-6611.

Peachtree Hills Place: The first residents won’t move in for nearly two years, but at Peachtree Hills Place, in the first stages of construction in Buckhead, health and wellness are already top priorities. “Our goal is prevention,” said Kevin Isakson, director of sales and marketing, and Peachtree Hills Place will offer many options for preventing health problems and also ways to get back on track after and illness or injury. A fully-staffed fitness center will be available with classes on-going throughout the day. On-site trainers will guide the residents through individualized workouts. A full-time dietician will be available to consult with residents and work with the culinary staff. Health care is a point of pride for Peachtree Hills Place. Isakson said a geriatrician, a physician trained in caring for aging patients, will be employed full-time by Peachtree Hills Place. An on-site clinic run by a nurse practitioner will handle routine checkups and lab tests., (404) 467-4900.

Saint Anne’s Terrace: Mobile doctors are available to visit residents who prefer in-home care, according to marketing director Antoinette Sturm. Another special amenityis that fresh produce is brought to Saint Anne’s every Monday for residents to select as part of their diet. 3100 Northside Parkway., (404) 238-9200.

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.