When the Senior Center of Elk Grove (SCEG) staff started offering online classes last September after the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to close its doors to in-person instruction, their goal was to engage locals and keep them active whether it was through a writing class or Zumba.
They have since reached that goal, but they were also happy to see faces from other countries as well.
The center had had members from Galt, Wilton, Sacramento and Citrus Heights even before the pandemic, said SCEG Assistant Director Christine Cuddy. She mentioned they also had participants from as far away as New York, Poland, and Vietnam.
“We’re lucky to have tenacious, vibrant seniors,” Cuddy said on Jan. 27. “They’ve adapted so well to this.”
She recalled seeing participants as young as 28 and as old as 102.
Some of the classes that are currently offered include aerobics, core and strength, genealogy, knitting and crocheting, and line dancing.
Cuddy also said that one of the most in-demand classes is ukulele, which is taught by Martin Beal and lasts four sessions.
She hosted a trivia event that was also popular and lasted for two and a half hours before Cuddy said she had to tell participants she had to end the session after her voice started to go hoarse.
“The Senior Center recognized immediately that action was necessary to continue to connect with its members,” Cuddy said. “For many members, the Senior Center represents their family and friends.”
The switch to online began with classes offered on Facebook and YouTube within six weeks after the senior center had to temporarily close its doors last March. Their facility is housed in the city of Elk Grove’s District56 community center on Civic Center Drive.
When the center bought the www.LivingFitSeniors.com site in September, it went live on Oct. 1 and “within two to three weeks had over 4,700 views,” Cuddy said. “SCEG now offers 40 – 50 live online events every month, including exercise, art, music, trivia, writing and pre-recorded programs for those that cannot participate live.”
Cuddy said that the website will “continue to evolve and add content well after we re-open sometime in the future.”
The classes started out as one hour classes but, after doing research, SCEG shortened classes to half an hour, and have had twice as many people as a result.
Many longtime senior center instructors are leading online classes – they include Debbie Glincher, Karen Nahoun, and Martin Beal who is a local musician that is teaching ukulele lessons.
As far as feedback, the classes have generated a slew of positive reactions, Cuddy said.
“The feedback from our seniors has been wonderful,” she said. “Seniors have called and emailed to express their appreciation for the opportunity to continue to connect with friends and staff at the Senior Center that they used to meet in person several times a week.”
To participate in classes, those interested can check out www.LivingFitSeniors.com or call the Senior Center of Elk Grove at (916) 685-3160.