DETROIT – On any given Monday and Wednesday, a large group of neighbors from Detroit’s west side gather at The Sheffield Center.
The men and women showing up were older residents ready and eager to participate in physical activity.
Catchy tunes started blaring from a speaker. Participants grabbed folding chairs. Frederick “Fast Freddy” Anderson took his position in front of the room and began to call out instructions to the rhythmic beat.
As the round of chair aerobics continued, participants began cheering on their neighbors while moving to the beat. They know it’ll be time to start line dancing after a few songs—another chance to heat things up and shift into more physical activity.
“We’re just like a family here,” said Juanita Bedell, Director of Senior Programming at DABO, the Detroit Association of Black Organizations. “We love each other. Without this place, we don’t know what we would be doing.”
Sizzling Seniors is a program sponsored by the nonprofit DABO. It’s encouraging older residents to get out of the house, connect, and engage in physical activity.
“A lot of them here has had hip surgeries, knee replacement,” Bedell said. “Some of them just need a place to go to talk to someone.”
Organizers said Sizzling Seniors provides a safe space for residents 55 and older.
“It’s changing lives because people are moving and grooving, and they’re not just sitting still doing nothing,” said Shirley Davis.
The program offers fitness instruction, dance classes, aerobics, and technology classes, among other things.
“This is like a constant rehab, but your mind, your brain, your abilities. It gives you courage,” Anderson said.
Participants said the program is about community. No matter the age, or personal limits, people are encouraged to get out of their homes and participate.
“It keeps me moving. You know, you can’t sit still, you’ve got to move. So, this helps me to do that,” said 90-year-old Teresa Stinson.
Stinson’s been attending Sizzling Seniors for more than three years.
Participants say moving around with the program is helping them feel better and younger.