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Pumping iron at 90

KINGSTON — The exercise room of the Kingston Fitness and Kitsap Physical Therapy building on Tuesday and Thursday mornings is filled with sounds from the past, as swinging standards and jazzy music numbers are heard coming from a nearby radio.

However, the room’s occupants, ranging in age from 60 to 90, aren’t just sitting around reminiscing about the days of old. They are using exercise balls, barbells and weight machines to strengthen their bones and help them feel 20 years younger.

The group, called Golden Circuit, was started about two years ago by Kitsap Physical Therapy and Kingston/Silverdale Fitness owner Mike Danford. He discovered that older physical therapy patients tend to stop exercising after completing their sessions and become inactive.

However, with the leadership of physical therapist Eileen Watland, a senior exercise group was created, where elders can come in and continue to workout with a licensed exercise professional. The Golden Circuit became popular with North End seniors and now about 30 of them attend two one-hour sessions each week.

Watland said the idea started with then 88-year-old Leola Anderson, who was being treated at the center for a broken back and osteoporosis.

“She came in with a walker, hunched over,” Watland said, noting there were also patients 30 years younger than her coming into the building with the assistance of a walker or cane.

Anderson, who celebrated her 90th birthday on April 29, said she was doubtful about working out at first but, after a month, started feeling the results. She could get out of her chair easier and work in the garden — activities she couldn’t do before with such ease.

“I had my physical last week and he said, ‘Wow, you’re hopping around pretty good,’” Anderson said with a laugh.

Watland said stories like Anderson’s are abundant within the group — there are people who hadn’t worked in their garden for 10 years because they couldn’t get off their knees and now they have no problem. A bridge club now exercises together instead of playing cards. People who could barely walk can now get around with little or no help from walkers or canes.

“Most people came to the program through the therapy sessions, recommendations from families, their doctors or word of mouth,” Watland said.

Other members of the group enjoy showing up for more than the exercise.

“I come because I love all these gals but I hate the exercise,” said Holly Kevo, as the other women around her laughed and agreed. “I’ll be real down in the dumps and I’ll come in and when I leave, about 45 minutes after I leave, I’m more active.”

While Kevo is a tap dance teacher who teaches classes three times a week, she said she still feels the need to keep moving.

“I’m 74 years old. I need to keep myself active,” she said.

“We have a ball, you know,” added member Ruth Warns. “Holly brought in some records and they are songs we grew up with.”

Others exercise because it allows them to do all sorts of activities they would not have been able to do otherwise.

“I was on a three-week trip to Turkey (recently),” said member Ray Rohay. “I would have not been able to do it if I had not done this.”

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