Seniors raise canes for fitness, defense

LOS ANGELES At first glance, a /*Cane Fu*/ class may look like a group of ordinary seniors, but you'd be wise not to cross them. That's because in Cane Fu class, the sticks are made for more than just walking.

"We use these canes and we put them around the neck and toss them down, and go at them until they leave us alone," said Laura Moore, who enjoys her Cane Fu class.

The workout is one where fitness and fighting go hand in hand.

The class stemmed from a regular senior aerobics class, where getting the heart rate up was the main goal. But Cane Fu involves self-defense moves that leave the seniors feeling much more empowered.

"We get balance in there, we get our cardio in there, we get them sweating," said Kimmy Wazny, group exercise supervisor, /*Nifty After Fifty*/ gym. "We have chin-thrusting, we have knee kick, we have shin kicks, we have stomps."

"I feel good about myself when I do that. We enjoy ourselves. We have a nice group of people," said Moore.

Classes are offered at Nifty After Fifty, a chain of Southern California gyms designed especially for seniors. Dr. Sheldon Zinberg started the gym after observing there was no safe and comfortable place for older adults to stay in shape.

"The concept is to provide customized and clinically supervised fitness training, mental and physical fitness training," said Dr. Zinberg. "It's not your grandma's health club membership."

The classes, the equipment, even the camaraderie, are all geared to engage seniors -- efforts to prevent some of the challenges of getting older.

"/*Sarcopenia*/, which is age-related muscle weakness, is perhaps the most important factor of many in the aging generation." Said Dr. Zinberg, who also says the weakness can lead to more serious injuries like a broken hip.

To take the class, it's necessary to join the gym. There are eight locations in L.A. and Orange County. Membership costs an average of $40 per month.



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