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Recreational Sports

Vitalife classes help seniors at New Port Richey rec center make fitness last

Suzette Greep works out in a balance exercise during a Vitalife class at the New Port Richey Recreation Center.

BRENDAN FITTERER | Times

Suzette Greep works out in a balance exercise during a Vitalife class at the New Port Richey Recreation Center.

NEW PORT RICHEY

With age, even the simple tasks in life become more difficult.

At New Port Richey's recreation center, however, seniors are taking action to stay in shape and maintain their abilities.

Vitalife classes are offered around the country and are sponsored by the Universal Health Care insurance company, which is part of the Medicaid system. The classes use a fitness regimen seniors can follow to slow the decline of their abilities.

"It becomes tough when you get older to do things like take something heavy off of a shelf or picking up groceries," group fitness instructor Krystyna Vitzthum said. "These people appreciate this more than young people because it helps do things that they need to do. They're maintaining their coordination and balance skills."

Vitzthum is a retired fitness instructor who decided to start the Vitalife program in New Port Richey two and a half years ago. Originally based at the senior center, the class moved to the New Port Richey Recreation Center because the latter had a bigger room.

"Some days we have over 40 people in these classes," Vitzthum said. "There are other classes around the area and some people will go from one class to another — they love it so much.

"The age group ranges anywhere from people in their 50s to others who are in their late 90s, but everyone has something in common because they are here. I always feel like I'm around family when I'm here."

The classes use a variety of aerobic workouts based on disciplines such as dance and yoga. Some exercises, however, involve the use of resistance ropes and balls, as well.

"Some people have come into this class and been able to do three repetitions of something on the first day," Vitzthum said. "Then after they come for a while, they're doing fifteen. When our bodies start not doing what we want them to do, these classes are a tremendous help."

Participants have seen differences in their blood pressure, cholesterol and weight, among other things.

For some participants, the class is a good complement to their normal workout regimen. Sandra Kalosa, 63, is a member of the New Port Richey Rec Center where she swims, but finds the class offers another way to get a good workout.

"I like it because it can be as intense as you want it to be," Kalosa said. "All the workouts are good because they all do different things for the body and mind. This class has been a godsend to me."

For others, such as 78-year-old Martha Williams, the class helps with rehabilitating old injuries. After a skiing accident eight years ago, Williams has no anterior cruciate ligament in her left leg.

"The classes help me maintain the strength in my leg," Williams said. "We do some exercises that are hard on my injuries, but I like it because the instructors are good, and the class is challenging."

Submit feedback, story ideas to communitysports@tampabay.com.

Fast facts | Vitalife classes

Where: New Port Richey Recreation Center

When: Mondays and Thursdays, 10:30-11:30 a.m.

Note: Many of the participants in the class are not under the umbrella of Universal Health Care, but are welcome to join the classes. Other insurance companies offer their own version of the class. Vitalife is taught by certified instructors and is available to seasonal residents as well.

For more info, call the rec center at (727) 841-4560.

Vitalife classes help seniors at New Port Richey rec center make fitness last 02/23/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 24, 2009 8:02pm]
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