On Monday, Dec. 18, members of the New Fairfield Senior Center community were interviewed by AgewellCT.org, a new website whose aim is to offer a user-friendly platform for local seniors to access event information, news, and resources. To date, there are six centers active on the site, including New Fairfield Senior Center.
Representing the website, Julia Nable spoke in depth with active senior, Lou Pante, and physical therapist and Town Tribune columnist, Dr. Matthew Ottulich, PT. Ms. Nable was especially interested in the work that Mr. Pante and Mr. Ottulich are putting into revamping the Senior Center’s exercise program.
Intended to run on the website’s rolling Spotlight section, Ms. Nable gathered information on Lou Pante’s extensive corporate career, his long-standing commitment to athletics, and his active engagement at the center. In fact, at 88, Mr. Pante runs both finance courses and exercise classes for his fellow members.
Matthew Ottulich explained that he was hired by the center to revamp the current exercise courses, to the delight of Lou Pante. The two have worked together to analyze the two aerobic classes and two weight-lifting classes that are currently offered. Mr. Ottulich has redesigned the exercises to eliminate redundancies and increase efficacy. In addition, he morphed one of the classes that was titled “Sit-ercise” to a more-active “Bodies in Motion.”
Both AgewellCT.org and the local Senior Center, through their exercise programming shifts, are attempting to change the narrative on aging. Mr. Pante’s point that “There’s a stigma with growing old…we have to counter that with positivity and action,” went hand-in-hand with Ms. Nable’s declaration that AgewellCT.org’s focus is on positive messaging. “Some websites are all about illness, not having enough money…when you look at our website, it’s uplifting,” she said.
Regarding exercise in older years, Mr. Ottulich noted that, working with seniors, he has seen the benefits of continuing to move, “Age is just a number, people need to realize that…When you’re living in San Diego and surfing next to an 80-year-old, it changes your perspective.”
Among the modifications that they are making to the fitness programming, Lou Pante and Matthew Ottulich plan to incorporate lively music to get more members moving. Mr. Ottulich offered the zen-like observation that, “The beat is the mind; the feeling in the body is the soul.”
After completing the interview, Mr. Pante and Mr. Ottulich invited Ms. Nable into an exercise class. Keeping seniors excited about moving is their goal and it appears to be working. Approximately 30 seniors had smiles aplenty for both Mr. Pante and Mr. Ottulich, and were enthusiastically stretching to the beat of a Frank Sinatra song.
Look for Matthew Ottulich’s column every month in the Town Tribune’s Health and Fitness section.
By Sarah Opdahl