Seniors & Aging

Myrtle Beach-area boomers find fitness in a class just for them

Blending science and training, Coastal Carolina University Assistant Professor Chris MacDonald and his student interns are helping women older than 50 get fit and strong, and stay that way.

The women who participate in MacDonald’s muscular strength class at Fit 4 Everyone in Conway say there is no doubt that they are stronger than most people their age.

“This class helps to make us stronger as we get old. It’s why we’re here; we’re old,” said Margaret Kiefert, 70, who has been attending the class since September. “We all are stronger, no matter how old we are,” she said.

“As we get older, we need this. In your 70s and 80s, you can still exercise and benefit from it,” said Betty Squatriglia, 75.

“I’m stronger,” said Jody Sievers, who says she is one of the elders in the group and is in her mid-80s.

“I think routine is very important, and it’s important to get in a place where there is routine and develop all parts of your body,” Sievers said. “I think (this class) is particularly good for people our age who have osteoporosis.”

MacDonald, an assistant professor of exercise and sports science, designed the class to implement a simple training methodology for seniors that is grounded in scientific principles of training and has a primary goal of improving daily function.

“It’s applying the physiological truths of human adaptation to practice,” said MacDonald, who has a Ph.D in sport physiology.

He said that what he does at Fit 4 Everyone goes back to his schooling, which led to a mind-set of always wanting to do something with people.

“I firmly believe that as a professor of exercise and sports science, putting what I teach into practice regularly, both in my personal and professional life, is a necessity,” MacDonald said.

Nancy Kosko, 60, said she had back surgery a year ago and is taking the class on her doctor’s recommendation. “It’s really strengthened my back. I lost weight. I truly enjoy the exercise and the company,” she said.

Most of the women in the class had been participating in a long-running CCU fitness class that has been discontinued.

Sue Ward, a yoga instructor who is also in the class, said she heard about the muscular strength class through CCU’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

“This has enabled me to work with some very knowledgeable people that are leading us in the right direction for physical fitness for people our age,” she said.

Mary Ann Selee, 69, said she has gone from a size 12 to a size 4 in the nine months she has been in the class. “I love being around these ladies. They are so inspiring – amazing, and the instruction is stellar. The most important thing here is the professionalism of the training,” Selee said.

Some CCU students in MacDonald’s classes intern with him.

“Running this particular class provides an additional opportunity for experimental learning for my students, with me, in the field,” he said.

MacDonald said that being involved in his community is important to him, and he found that outlet at Fit 4 Everyone, a quality training facility operated by like-minded people.

The team at Fit 4 Everyone includes Alayna Defalco, part owner and operator, who has a master’s degree in exercise physiology. She is a lecturer at CCU and has been teaching undergraduate students in the exercise science field for more than eight years.

Marcia Patience is an exercise consultant and director of marketing and facilities. She has a master’s degree in exercise science and a bachelor’s degree in communication, and is currently a teaching associate in the Department of Kinesiology and Sports Studies at CCU.

The Fit 4 Everyone team of experts offers different kinds of services and classes for people of all ages, including health assessments, wellness classes, personal training, fitness consulting and more.

For more information, call Fit 4 Everyone at 582-4458 or visit