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Feature Stories

How Seniors Avoid the Physical Cliff

From Issue: Volume XXI - Number 1
1/11/2013


By Steve Propes

Fitness appears to be one of this area’s most competitive enterprises, be they corporate, like the expansion of the 24-Hour Fitness on Bellflower Boulevard and the appearance of the two L.A. Fitness locations in our area as well as the nonprofit or municipal fitness centers, which might well mean there are sufficient places to fulfill that New Years Eve resolution of achieving a weight loss or general fitness goal.

There are two Lakewood locales named Weingart that provide a fitness center.

With a $40 a month regular membership; seniors at $32, families at $60 with a $79 enrollment fee, the Weingart Lakewood Family YMCA at 5835 E. Carson Street has the highest fees of centers surveyed for this story. The facility has about 60 machines with 15 cardio bikes and 15 treadmills.

According to Weingart Membership Director John Blowers, “We have about 1,600 units, members and families, 1/3rd of which are seniors, which he defined as 62 and above. County fire comes in and we collaborate with the adjoining military recruiting centers. The Navy center uses our facility for testing, Air Force uses some of our equipment. They also use the park.”

The center is “busiest from 6 a.m. through 9 or 10 a.m. and again at 4:30 p.m. Pretty good retention rate, about 70 percent of our base. We have a really strong senior population.”

In fact, business is so good, Blowers described a “huge four million dollar renovation in about the beginning to end of this summer. We are expanding the parking lot. The smaller healthy lifestyle building is going to be taken out and converted to parking. We’ll extend our current gym into a two-story facility with an entrance that will face Carson Street.

“Parking will probably change substantially during the process depending on how we alter how people get into the building and could have an impact on neighboring businesses.”

Then there are two free municipal fitness centers. Restrictions apply of course.

The Weingart Senior Center Fitness Room is at 5220 Oliva Ave. in Lakewood at the alley behind Petco. Lakewood Community Services Manager Allison Brammer called it “kind of our best kept secret,” Open from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., it offers two treadmills, two cardio bikes, two recumbent bikes and four weight, leg and arm machines, all of which are old and well used. One of the treadmills is a bit balky, to the extent that a weighty person might make it non-operational from time to time, which also applies to one of the recumbent bikes.

As there is no budget for replacement, Brammer noted the equipment is old and well used, though a replacement treadmill might soon become available. Residents over 50 years of age of Lakewood and neighboring communities are eligible to use the center. To join, a member must have a medical release.

According to Brammer, “for 2012 there are 86 participants registered,” up from 76 participants in 2011. “A fitness room application is good for two years. Staff reports that the monthly average is 352 visits.”

The showers in each of the rest rooms were installed for the Jacuzzi, replaced ten years ago when the room became a fitness center. “We were looking at trends, how senior centers had to offer more fitness,” said Brammer. “We have a big commitment to seniors having active healthy life styles.”

A minimum age of 50 also applies to the Long Beach Senior Center Fitness Club, which does not require medical clearance; instead members are required to sign a waiver form. “We do have it where it’s optional or need to do a waiver form and information,” said Long Beach Parks & Recreation and Marine Acting Supervisor Eileen Ludlum.

Located at 1150 E. Fourth Street, the club is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. According to Ludlum, “probably over a hundred” seniors are signed up. As the center is deep in Long Beach, “we are 90 percent Long Beach. If you can’t afford to pay, this is what we’re here for. It’s what you would basically find at home, one or two steps below what you’d find in Belmont Athletic Club or 24-Hour Fitness.

‘We give you an alternate format to come and use the machines and try to stay fit. Because we are parks and recreation, we can give you safety precautions, but we cannot do personal training and rehabilitation.” There are about 20 machines on the premises.
About 50 to 60 seniors use the center daily said Ludlum. A smaller center is a Houghton Park in North Long Beach, however no such fitness center is available at El Dorado Park Senior Center, though fitness classes are offered for those so inclined.

And as for the city-run Cerritos fitness center, “memberships are $50 per year” and out-of-towners who do not work in Cerritos are not welcome at any price.

steve@longbeachcomber.com