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More Chinese Elders Hitting the Gym

Sing Tao Daily, News Feature, By Dawei Yun, Translated by Jun Wang Posted: Feb 03, 2009

NEW YORK More and more elders are going to the gym, once the domain of young fitness-goers. To avoid the evening crush of youthful clients, the seniors instead are occupying the gyms during the day. Many of the elders are members of the Silver Sneakers Fitness Program, a free project started by an insurance company sponsorship.

Mr. Tan from the Chinatown YMCA said an increasing number of Chinese elders are using his gym facilities. About half of Chinatown YMCA's members is Chinese Americans of all ages. Usually, elders go to bed early and get up early. They prefer to work out in the morning, he said. So the gym has created group exercise classes specifically for elders and provides personal trainers.

The YMCA became part of the Silver Sneakers Fitness Program recently. Like all other participating gyms, elder members of the program can use the facilities for free. In the last six months, about 150 elders have signed up to use stationary bicycles, treadmills and to take part in yoga classes, Tan said.

Ms. Liu, manager of another gym in Chinatown, said she is glad to see more Chinese Americans using gyms. Liu said there is a misperception that people solely exercise to bulk up to build muscle. After years of promoting physical fitness, Liu said more elders now understand exercise can lead to better health.

Lius gym has about 700 members. About half of them are elders. She said the free program has attracted more elders to the exercise program. In the first 10 days of the year, more than 20 elders joined her gym. Many of the older members workout everyday, she said.

Mr. and Mrs. Xu, a couple who are 87 and 81 years old respectively, spend one hour at the gym. They like to walk slowly on the treadmill or use the stationary bike, which helps their hearts and joints. The couple also has recruited their friends to workout at the gym.

Retired for many years, Mr. Liang joined the fitness program a year ago and has developed a daily schedule of swimming in the mornings and cardio and weight training in the afternoons. He boasts that he is as strong as he was ten years ago.

For more information about the Silver Sneakers Fitness Program, please visit www.silversneakers.com, or call 888-423-462. Chinatown YMCA is located in Manhattan at 273 Bowery St. The phone number is 212-912-2460.

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