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Class puts the fun in fitness

By: Clariss Smith, Courtesy to the Journal
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Could that be the singing of birds, the lowing of cattle as if some branch of Old McDonald’s farm is housed in in the DeWitt Center? No, it’s a jolly bunch of seniors having a great time and getting limbered up while they stretch and giggle. All are keeping their bodies active at the thrice weekly class, apparently having a ball. While watching the same old Richard Simmons and Angela Lansbury videotapes over and over might not sound like a stimulating hour, this group seems satisfied. And shucks! Participants must be 55 or older to get in. This is no ordinary cardio-vascular session of lifting limbs with gusto. Observers hear dogs barking, a goose honking, or the loud “moo-ooo” of little Miss Cow, then silence – until the spirited oink from Miss Piggy in the back row. These seniors are just having too much fun. It all seems more like kinderland than a senior fitness class Miss Cow is “played” by Polly Roberts, wearing her cow hat complete with tail. Miss Piggy, Dorcas Kokila, wears her “piggy” hat. Both hats were made by Polly’s sister. These two star as Polly leads the group in a rousing chorus, “Let’s All Sing Like the Birdies Sing.” Delicate Miss Dorcas gives the grand finale as she sings, “This Little Piggie Went to Market,” all in fun while the persistent exercise video drones over the loudspeaker. Roberts hardly misses a session. She is accompanied by her husband Ray, a retired judge, who exercises with her. Polly is legally blind and can only see a faint blur on the video screen. Someone stands in front of her to be her guide. “Oh, and who might be my shadow today?” Polly calls out, always thanking the person who plays the part. Birthdays are remembered. They are vital to senior folk. Everyone joins in the birthday song, on key or not, and gives hearty applause to the celebrity of that morning. The group also recognizes its faithful “stage manager,” Cal Kokila, the 85-year-old who sets up the video for each session. He’s been attending the class for at least two decades. Anyone 55 or older is invited to join in the fun. Class meets 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, rain or shine. Location is the Multipurpose Senior Center, 11577 E Ave., at the DeWitt Center in Auburn. Call (530) 823-8172.