SilverSneakers enjoy dancing, food, fun

Group belly dancers, from left, Donna Alcina, Marlene Miller, Mary Alice Meyer, instructor Patty Cherepko, Toni Dondzila, Renee Morelli and Kim McClain -- Contributed

STEUBENVILLE — The Silver Sneakers’ annual Christmas luncheon and party was held Dec. 7 at the YMCA Wellness Center at St. John Arena, Steubenville, with 71 attending.

The welcome was offered by class instructor Flora L. VerStraten-Merrin, who began the festivities tradition six years ago, she explained, when she realized that part of exercising and being fit includes social and emotional interaction.

She noted that many of the seniors who work out at the YMCA and those who attend her classes arrived early to visit and walk the track. “Seniors in attendance were from the oldest, Rose Petrella, who just turned 87 years old, to our newest members at the young age of 65,” VerStraten-Merrin said.

The Rev. Tom Bullard, class member, offered the blessing for the buffet-style, covered-dish Christmas luncheon.

Afterward, Frank Vostatek and his dance partner, Lola Swanagan, performed two dances, including, the Cha-Cha and the Tango. “They were very entertaining and were invited to demonstrate that we’re never too old to learn new things and to remain active,” VerStraten-Merrin said. “Frank shared his age with the group and also informed them that he underwent knee replacement surgery this past year and was back dancing approximately four to five weeks following his surgery. Lola shared that she had back surgery and by attending the SilverSneakers classes she regained her balance and agility and was able to return to ballroom dancing,” she added.

The Christmas party also included an ugliest sweater contest. Winner Kim McClain was presented with a gift basket, donated by Rachel Freeland from The Scent Shop at the Fort Steuben Mall. Runner-up Mary Alice Meyer received a $25 gift card.

YMCA Zumba instructor Patty Cherepko and several class members performed two belly dancing-type dances.

Door prizes consisting of SilverSneakers T-shirts, poinsettias and gift cards were awarded to Perry West, Sandy Wyckoff and others. There also was a brief sing-along held.

VerStraten-Merrin teaches five days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. the Classic SilverSneakers Class followed immediately by a 15-minute class, specifically for balance. On Tuesday and Thursday, the More Fit SilverSneakers class begins at 10 a.m. followed by SilverSneakers Yoga at 11 a.m. All SilverSneakers classes are performed standing or sitting in a chair. “The class members are never required to get down or up off of the floor,” she said.

For information on the SilverSneakers program and qualifying for free membership to the YMCA, those interested can contact their insurance provider or the YMCA. Many insurance programs and companies include free SilverSneakers memberships.