By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterNovember 16, 2017
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- When it comes to fitness, there is no age limit on when to start the journey to wellness, and one fitness class is helping people get on the right track regardless of their age.
The Rucker Gold Fitness program takes place Dec. 9 at the Fortenberry-Colton Physical Fitness Center at 11 a.m., and is designed for people of ages 50 and older by meeting the unique needs of seniors in terms of health, according to Stephanie Kraczkowski, fitness specialist.
"Rucker Gold seeks to meet the mind, body and spirit needs," she said. "As we age and approach retirement, life slows down. Many times people become isolated, homebound and generally their health begins to fail.
"Multiple studies indicate that exercise and fitness are the miracle cure, if you will, for all that ails us, and senior fitness is not any different," she said. "Exercise and fitness can slow the aging process and improve quality of life."
The class is a comprehensive program that includes Fit for Life, Yoga Gold and Posture Clinic, all of which are meant to cater to those 50 and older.
Fit for Life includes many aspects of training, such as cardiovascular training and endurance, strength training and muscular endurance, and flexibility and balance.
"Since seniors can do everything that younger people can, and this class takes participants to their ultimate fitness level," said Kraczkowski. "The exercises are simply modified. The exercises in this class do not include lowering the head below the heart, hyperextension of any joint or the wringing of the wrists. The key is motivation and modification.
"I have been working with seniors since 2013 and I am amazed all the time. Many times, (seniors) are unaware of what they can accomplish and they are surprised at what they can do," she said. "Whatever your fitness level is, ambulatory or not, this class is for you."
Kraczkowski said that the class is catered to the unique needs of each individual, whether they be physical, emotional or spiritual.
The Yoga Gold portion is based on the same principle as Fit for Life, but the goal of this class is to nurture the health and wellness of joints and connective tissue, said the fitness specialist.
"Flexibility is addressed with Yoga Gold but so is mental centeredness, stress management, emotional balance and health," she said.
Yoga Gold is modified to not include floor exercises, but rather have all movements done in a chair or standing position to cater to the needs of participants and reduce stress.
The Posture Clinic is another class that's intended to improve the wellness and health by correcting alignment issues that affect the entire body, said Kraczkowski.
"Posture can be thought of as the foundation of fitness," she said. "Weight gain, inflammatory conditions, autoimmune illness and pain can cause a deterioration of posture. When posture is out of alignment, the rest of the body falls out of balance.
"A chronic knee pain is just enough to throw off the back, neck, hips, ankles and feet, so poor posture becomes a habit and imbalances spread throughout the body to cause widespread chronic pain and disorders," said the fitness specialist. "We will cover alignment for each part of the body and balance, and the class is only 30 minutes long because the exercises are specific and prescriptive, so the focus is intense."
In addition to the fitness benefits people will build while taking the classes, the program is a great way for people to make connections with others with similar interests, which can be just as important for health and wellness, said Kraczkowski.
"The motto of the program is, 'Spend your golden years with your golden peers,'" she said. "All of the classes in the program are subject to team building and social activities and the classes can become deeply personal. It's an experience that is more than just showing up to a fitness class -- it is a network of people who are in this together."