Fitness programming offers exercise, community | Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

Fitness programming offers exercise, community



WHITEFISH BAY – If you’re a senior, looking to get out, get active and meet some new friends, the JCC’s senior fitness programming offers an option for you.

Three fitness classes aimed at seniors are offered on various weekday mornings. The Fit ‘n’ Fun exercise class, Tai Chi and Chair Yoga are all geared toward seniors. Members at the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center, 6255 N. Santa Monica Blvd. in Whitefish Bay, can attend one class, two, or all three.

Fit ‘n’ Fun

Fit ‘n’ Fun is the longest-running and largest class of the trio, with about 25 regulars, half of whom will show up on any given day. It’s open to all ages, but at least three regulars are in their 90s, according to attendees.

“It’s a mix of cardio, strength and balance exercises made for seniors at all levels,” said Katie Nickel, fitness director for the JCC and an instructor for the class.

Katie Nickel is fitness director for the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center and an instructor for the Fit ‘n’ Fun class.

You don’t need to be an athletic star to attend. “We’re able to accommodate that full span (of ability),” Nickel said. “The hardest part is just going to that first class.”

Each class starts with cardiovascular exercise that’s somewhat like dance. Then, it gets into resistance training using weights and bands. It ends with balance and posture moves.

Roseann Lachenmann of Fox Point, a class regular, said she loves both the people in the class and the teaching staff. “They care about everybody,” she said.

“We do things outside of class,” said Nickel, who has been a JCC employee for seven years and fitness director for six months. “We do a lunch once a month …. I usually go because I enjoy them.”

One of the lunch dates turned out to be a surprise baby shower for Nickel.

“It’s my favorite class to teach because of the community,” Nickel said. “It’s a family. They truly care about each person that’s in there. Everyone gives a warm welcome.”

Thinking about joining in? Don’t be afraid that you’ll look silly or the instructor will single you out. “That’s the opposite of what it is here,” Nickel said.

“My biggest takeaway with the Fit ‘n’ Fun program is that the classes are really made for anyone,” she said. “It’s not just a place to get a workout. It’s a place to get sense of community as well.”

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art that provides health benefits.

“Tai Chi, we added two years ago and it’s a very slow mind-body class,” Nickel said. “It’s great for people with arthritis. We target seniors but it’s for everyone.”

You probably won’t work up a sweat in Tai Chi. “It’s more to connect you with your body,” Nickel said.

“It’s great for memory as well as posture. You do a set of moves and then you do those moves repeatedly.”

About six people are usually in each class.

Chair Yoga

Yoga is a series of exercises related to posture, flexibility, improved breathing and fitness. The practice originated in ancient India.

The Chair Yoga class is geared towards people who have difficulty getting up and off the mat.

“At no point do you have to get down on the floor,” Nickel said. “Everything is in the chair. You still get all the benefits of yoga.”

She said you won’t leave sweating, but your muscles will be sore. You can take the class at your own level, Nickel said.

Chair Yoga was started about a year ago and currently gets about 8 participants.

The JCC may be reached at or 414-967-8200.