Senior citizens have found Blythe Family Fitness the perfect place to gather weekday mornings for exercise and socialization in Pratt.
The place is clean and inviting, the atmosphere friendly and invigorating, and the mission of getting people over the age of 60 moving is highly successful.
For more than five years, Leon Kaufman at Blythe Family Fitness in Pratt has led Leon's Retirefit classes for local senior citizens. This week there were more than 66 chairs filled on Wednesday, and Friday more than 45 braved blustery cold winds to get their exercise sessions from 9 to 9:30 a.m.
"We have a great time here," said Jeannette Siemens. "It's worth the effort to get out."
The sessions, offered free due to grant money secured for this purpose several years ago, cover a wide variety of movements.
"We do daily exercises that incorporated movements applicable to daily life," Kaufman said. "We call it functional training."
The group usually starts sitting down in chairs lining the sideline of an entire basketball court. They used weighted bars, wide rubber bands, tennis balls and various-sized medical balls to assist in their stretching movements. Ankle rolls, knee hugs, shoulder stretches and arm circles are followed by walking laps and additional calisthenics.
"I don't always follow all the instructions," said Ivan Phillips, 92. "You only have to do what you can do and some days that is more, some days that is less. It keeps me moving. I'm doing pretty good for 92."
Phillips credits his four years of Retirefit classes for his ability to go dancing every other week with his girlfriend.
"I hire a chauffeur to take us to Hutchinson," he said. "We like to line-dance, you know, country style. My girl friend has pretty much lost her mind, but she still remembers how to dance so we can do that together."
Kaufman said the senior exercise classes are just as much for mental health as they are for physical fitness.
"We tell jokes, celebrate birthdays and sometimes have coffee and doughnuts," he said. "It's a lot of fun."
The Retirefit group meets Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. New participants are always welcome.