BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Retirement often means slowing down and taking it easy, but you shouldn't kick back for too long. Staying active can mean a longer life, and there's an easy and free way to do it.
It's hard to find a parking place most mornings at the Spectrum Fitness on Perkins Rd. near Kenilworth. Seniors pack the group exercise room for a class taught by Barrett Murphy, who's more affectionately known as "Coach."
"He tells you to listen to your body, and not do anything that would hurt it," said Bonnie Odom. "And then you build your confidence, you build your strength, you build your muscles. It's a win-win."
is a wellness program for people ages 65 and up available at gyms nationwide. Enrollment is often free through many Medicare and group retirement plans. There are no limits on ability or age.
"I'm 86-years-old going on 87," Lucille Anderson said proudly at a recent class.
She's known as "Mama Lucille," and is a long-time regular who just can't keep still. It's that philosophy that's helped her get this far.
"The body is made to move. If it doesn't move, it's going to get stagnant," Anderson said. "So it behooves all of us at the early age, all up into the old age, there's no stopping point, to just keep moving."
Coach Murphy agrees.
"Sitting will kill you, and all the research, the more you sit…sitting is not good for you," he said.
Chairs in the Silver Sneakers classes are mostly props. Many exercises focus on balance and grip, while dumbbells and elastic bands help build muscle. Skill levels vary among members, so Coach Murphy – himself 77-years-old – makes sure everyone works at their own pace. He does push, but always keeps them laughing.
"I started in college. I did strength and conditioning. I did high school for 40 years," he said. "I know people, what to watch for. I can identify with them. I get up with a snap, crackle and pop like them every morning."
After the class is over, those who want more strength training head upstairs to work on the machines. Mama Lucille often leads the way, pushing her body to keep up with her mind. There's only one thing she doesn't think about.
"Live your life, and forget about your age. Period," Murphy said.
CLICK HERE for more information on Silver Sneakers, or call the Humana Guidance Center at 225-442-6100.