YMCA's older adults lead the way toward new class options

CONSHOHOCKEN, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Not being around other people during the shutdown has been tough. For seniors, isolation's not just inconvenient. It can be physically harmful.

However, one local institution found an unexpectedly successful solution. We've seen restaurants, retailers, and manufacturers all reinventing themselves.

YMCA branches in our area have changed too, initially driven to reach seniors.

Right after the shutdown, the greater Philadelphia Y immediately began moving classes to Zoom, especially those for older adults.

The Y knew many older adults lived alone, and the branches were their gathering spot.
"Many of our seniors come in for several hours a day. And a lot of them, this is their only connection to other people," said Zeffi Angelikas, group vice-president for operations.

When the first classes rolled around, Angelikas says she was nervous, fearing only a few dozen would be able to access or understand Zoom.

But to her surprise, classes like Senior Strut are getting 200 or more. Some members attend more often than when branches were open.

So Angelikas says the online classes are here to stay.

"We have 15 live branches. We're looking at this as our 16th branch and we've labeled it Y Live," said Angelikas. "We've set up 2 branches where they're going to have Y Live classrooms, and we're going to run classes out of them."

But the classes aren't all about physical activity. The last 15 minutes of each session are saved for socializing.

And the members aren't shy, with one member even noting our presence in the class by humming the Action News theme.

With Y Live classes, members can attend, even when we're able to travel again.

"Many of our members go to Florida, either for winter or summer, so they can keep up with the class," said Angelikas.
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