The Ormond Beach Senior Center is all about keeping locals active — whether they're 92-year-old dancers, 77-year-old yogis or anyone in between.
BY PAULA BUCK | CONTRIBUTING WRITER
From language lessons and creative writing classes to crafts, games, exercise and dancing, the wide array of offerings at the Ormond Beach Senior Center just might surprise you. And the best part? Most of them are dirt cheap.
“People from all walks of life come here for fun and stimulation,” said poker enthusiast John McLeish. “It’s a wonderful place.”
Manager Teddy Blauvelt, a seasoned social worker, explained that the city owns the center, at 351 Andrews St., but about five years ago, the Volusia County Council on Aging took over the programs and activities, many of which are open to residents for $1 per day. That arrangement still stands today.
"(I'm glad to see) everyone who comes through the door," Blauvelt said, noting that he tries to organize programs dedicated to general vitality.
Laura Ashland’s yoga class, for example, offers exercise and meditation — and she said it's shown real results, noting that two of her students' heights were measured at the beginning of their yoga practice and again several months later. "They actually grew by up to an inch in height," she said.
“I’m 77 years old, and I can stretch much more now than when I started," Patti Ventura, a yoga student, said. "I’m standing straighter, too.”
Set in low light and to soft music, Ashland led her students through various positions — the cow, dog, cat, sunflower and moonflower. The emphasis is on stretching, breathing and “cool” movement, she said.
“Be gentle. Move slowly. No tapas,” Ashland murmured repeatedly. "Tapas," she explained, is Sanskrit for a “heat-producing discipline,” which is not the goal in this class, aimed at beginners through advanced- intermediate students.
Alan Koscielniak, a former long-distance runner, especially appreciates the low-impact exertion. “Yoga,” he smiled, “does not beat you up.”
Ashland, who owns The Yoga Circle and Dance, at 333 W. Granada Blvd., said her classes are “for absolutely anyone.”
“Last year, the count for (yoga) practitioners nationwide was 16 million; this year, it has increased to 20 million," she said. "(And) doctors now fully endorse the benefits of doing yoga."
It's why, she says, she was so happy to bring the class to Ormond Beach's senior population.
While serenity and silence characterize the yoga class, bright lights and loud music pulse inside the ballroom of Deanna Galindo’s Stretch and Dance class. Trained in Zumba, Galindo has combined several elements — cha-cha, marching, reaching, hip-opening, upper-body toning — to create a style all her own.
“Anyone can do it,” she asserted. “We use chairs to help people with balance and to provide a seat if someone needs a break.”
Skilled in the pivots of the cha-cha, dancer Frank Cavale worked the dance floor. “I just love it," he said. "Not bad for a 92-year-old, huh?”
Laurie Clayson’s smooth salsa also drew a compliment from Ashland, who said, “We want everyone to feel comfortable and happy, not pressured.” It's obvious that strategy is working when broad grins line the faces of students whenever they hear a familiar tune, such as “Guantanamera” or “Stand by Me."
"The main thing is just to keep moving," dancer Kaye Strickland explained. "It really doesn’t matter whether or not you know the exact steps.”
And so the students, like the center, stay in constant motion. The minute dance class ended, in fact, Lee D'Orlando, one of the "set-up guys," and his team were busy hauling in tables for Big Time Bingo.
The center isn't all about fun and games, however. It also offers insurance counseling by ElderSource every Tuesday, and a free Ask-a-Nurse program on Fridays. Daily activities include on-site lunches, billiards, table tennis and shuffleboard at the Ormond Beach Sports Complex.
Email [email protected], or call 672-4146.
What day works for you?
Poker, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (donation)
Deanna's Stretch & Dance, 9:30-10:30 a.m. ($3 per class)
Balance workshop, 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. ($75 per eight weeks)
Also: Creative writing, pinochle, beading and jewelry, stretching, bunco and belly dancing.
Zumba, 9-10 a.m. ($5 per class)
Italian lessons, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ($1)
Also: Mahjongg, Senior Games Board Meeting, Tomoka Duplicate Bride, Goodtimers Bridge, Hand and Foot Cards.
Knitting and crocheting, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. (free)
Watercolor art class, 1-4 p.m. ($10 per class)
Dance Gala and Social, 2-4 p.m. ($5 per class)
Also: Poker, euchre and stretching
Yoga Circle, 9-10 a.m. ($4 per class)
Beading and jewelry making, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. ($1)
Tomoka Duplciate Bridge, 12:30-4 p.m. (dues)
Pinochle, 1-4 p.m. ($1)
Learn French, 9-10 a.m. ($1)
Spanish with Josephina, 10 a.m. to noon ($1)
Bingo, 12:15-3:30 p.m. ($1.50)
Also: Poker, Painting with Betty, resumes, Stretch and Dance, Ask-A-Nurse, bridge, Domino Club, stretching.