I’m too old for that kind of exercise” was the first excuse that flew out the window for over 900 students enrolled in Over 60 & Getting Fit classes held at 10 sites throughout Southern Idaho.

The classes are sponsored by the College of Southern Idaho, in partnership with the Office on Aging; Filer, Buhl, Shoshone, ISDB school districts, and the Jerome, Rupert and Hailey Recreation Departments. Classes are free to anyone over 60 and are aimed at improving all aspects of cardiovascular functioning, preserving and restoring flexibility, improving strength, balance, agility, posture, and providing a wonderful opportunity to socialize. The program was honored this year by the Administration on Aging.

It’s definitely challenging to step into the CSI gym with 150 students in Jan Mittleider’s class – let alone keep up with them. They’re fit, fun and give new meaning to the challenge of being active. They’re a prime example it’s never too late to start an exercise program. Students from 60 to 96 years old choose to participate at their own pace and ability level.

Instructor Jan Mittleider. Photo By Jason Lugo

Over 30 years ago, Mittleider volunteered to teach a yoga class for a group of 15 ladies. This program evolved through the exercise crazes of the day, reaching its current format which is committed to providing activities for a greater range of abilities.

Lively music starts the warm-up; walking variations include marching, toe taps, posture checks, range of motion activities and stretches. Intensity gradually increases for an aerobic workout, with students slogging or jogging along together. A cool down with bands, bars and floor mats are incorporated for upper body resistance workouts, squats and lunges. A full body stretch, relaxation, or Tai Chi wraps up the class.

Hagerman’s Eunice McClellan, the oldest participant in the program, turned 96 in March. She’s been attending classes for three years. She says the exercise has helped her reach farther into her cupboards than she’s been able for years. Eunice is also an inspiration to all the “younger” people who attend.

Burley sisters Rosie Abner, 76, and Ella Bryant, 80, often walk over two miles to and from class at the CSI Burley Outreach Center. During the summer, the pair walks six miles along the canal bank.
“We really like it; we can do about everything in the class, and we love our instructor,” Ella says.

“I love everything about the class,” says Bea Brower, who celebrated her 93rd birthday with the Rupert class last spring. For Bea, as it is with many others, the social aspect of the class is an added benefit, as Bea’s daughter, daughter-in-law, sister and her daughter all attend.
Charles and Renee Clark of Rupert have noticed the benefits from the fitness class. The couple is now able to work in their two-acre garden without much discomfort.

“I attribute this lack of soreness in my shoulders to the continual exercises we do with our arms while walking and also to the fact that we use the stretch bands every class period,” Renee says.

Although free, it’ll cost you – but the return on the energy spent is well worth it, like money in the bank as participants reap the rewards of an active lifestyle. In addition to burning calories, exercise decreases stress, reduces depression, helps you sleep better and increases endorphins – a natural “feel good” chemical released from your body during exercise.

Planning to go?

What: Over 60 & Getting Fit
When: Fall classes begin Sept. 10
Pre-register: Contact Jan Mittleider,
(208)732-6488, 732-6475
Where: 10 locations throughout
Southern Idaho:
Twin Falls: CSI Gym
Jerome: Jerome Rec Center
Filer: Filer Elementary
Buhl: Buhl Middle School
Shoshone: Shoshone Middle School
Gooding: ISDB Gym
Burley: CSI Burley Outreach Center
Rupert: Rupert Civic Gym
Hailey: Blaine County Campus Gym
Hagerman: Hagerman High School