Young at Heart


Cancer survivor Tracey Yarborough.

“With Susie’s encouragement I walked two half marathons this summer, which I never could have done before,” Dee Robison said. Robinson is a 70–year–old cancer survivor and just one of the many women who have benefited from Susan Bracamonte’s Senior Stretch and Tone Class at Court One Athletic Center in Lansing. The class is specifically designed to help older women improve their focus, alignment, breathing, balance, strength and flexibility through exercising both their bodies and minds. Members range in age from 47–75 and have a variety of goals and health issues that Bracamonte happily accommodates. “My issue is joints. I stiffen up very quickly, so it’s a case of move it or lose it,” Georgia Old, a 71–year–old class member, said. Bracamonte has taught her how to ease up on her joints to increase flexibility. Bracamonte has been a personal trainer and aerobics instructor for 10 years. She began working at Court One when she moved to Michigan from California in 2008 and started teaching her senior class in 2009.“I’ll be 62 in February, and what really motivated me was that I noticed that older people were shunned aside and there was nothing for them. I asked for the class and the results have been amazing,” she said. As someone who once suffered from mental and physical abuse, Bracamonte said she knows the strength of a human being and believes that, with some help, anyone can get back on her feet. She has worked with people who have a wide range of physical and mental limitations and encourages them to work at their own pace. Bracamonte helps her clients work the proper muscles to avoid injuries, build strength and restore youth. “I’m a believer in bringing the seniors back and making them strong,” she said. “That’s my heart, not making them think they’re fragile and going to break. I look at them and I say, ‘you can do it!’” This encouragement creates a welcoming atmosphere and positive energy that class members said keeps them coming back each week. “I always look forward to coming,” 70–year–old Sharon Schwille said. “With other classes I wouldn’t always go because it was too much stress, but this isn’t like that. There’s no pressure.” The women said that they have benefitted from the class in more ways than one, as they have built stronger bodies, stronger minds and strong, long–lasting friendships. “I love the way it makes me feel and the community we have here. It’s definitely made me a lot stronger,” 67–year–old Greta Dart said. Inspired by Bracamonte, the class has become a strong family that helps women come back from sickness and weakness and feel renewed to live healthier, happier lives. “When I first came my body couldn’t do any of the things it can do now. They welcomed me with open arms and we haven’t looked back since,” Tracey Yarborough, a 47–year–old cancer survivor, said. “We’ve become quite the community. We laugh together, cry together and share our lives. It’s really therapeutic on so many levels. I’m very grateful.”

Tags: Court One, fitness

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