By Elise Franco
A collaboration between the township’s senior center and a local fitness guru allows senior citizens the opportunity to stay active and fit for free.
Debbie Caggiano, owner of The ClassRoom Aerobics and Training Studio in Austintown, knew when she began looking for a new studio space earlier this year that she wanted to stay in Austintown. After six months and four potential locations, she decided to turn to the Austintown Senior Center on Westchester Drive.
Caggiano, who already had spent three years volunteering at the center by working in the kitchen and teaching exercise classes twice per week, said moving in permanently was a natural transition.
Caggiano rents the main studio space from the senior center and a smaller room, used for weight training, from the township.
“This room was a pale white space mostly used for storage,” she said. “I thought it would be a great studio space, and I knew it had potential.”
Caggiano and five studio members spent two months painting, cleaning and installing equipment to transform the room from boring and forgotten to a welcoming exercise space.
“I renovated the space on my own dime, so it was no cost to the senior center,” she said. “It’s a win-win situation.”
Caggiano continues to lead yoga, Zumba and Drums Alive classes specifically for seniors, but those who are members of the center can now attend any class for free.
“These are such active seniors, and I’m trying to get more of them involved,” she said. “It’s beneficial for them because it keeps joints and muscle tone in good condition.”
Madeline Paulette, 85, of Austintown, said she comes to the senior center mostly because of the free classes Caggiano offers.
“I try to come two times per week because I enjoy exercising, and feel better after I do,” she said. “I really think a lot of seniors take advantage of it.”
Paulette said she does yoga and Tai Chi but loves the Drums Alive class — a class that combines aerobic movements and drumming on an exercise ball.
“They’re a lot of fun, and the drums are good for people who can’t really get down on the floor and exercise much,” she said.
Jim Henshaw, the senior center director, said the increase in services to the senior-center members has been positive.
“I’m amazed at how many people are actually doing [classes],” he said. “Seniors have got to exercise. Too often people retire and stagnate, and this gets their body and minds active.”
For more information about The ClassRoom or for a class schedule visit www.theclassroomaerobics.com.