It’s not news that people are living longer and staying healthier than ever before. Baby boomers don’t feel like senior citizens, they don’t behave like senior citizens, and they may not envision themselves spending time at a senior center. At the Edward A. Myerberg Center in Pikesville, board and staff members get it. About two years ago, the center, which is open to people 55 and up, removed the word “senior” from its title, and according to director of life-long learning Autumn Sadovnik, the center’s name isn’t the only thing that’s evolved.
“The Myerberg Center is no longer a place where people just come to have lunch and play cards,” said Sadovnik. “We just had 25 people in an advanced aerobics class. One member, who trained at our fitness center, is now riding his bike across Europe. We are growing and diversifying our offerings in fitness and wellness, academics and the arts,” she said. “It’s become a place where people can come and do the things they may have not had time to do when their work schedules were heavier.”
Some members, Sadovnik added, still have full-time jobs, and the center is expanding its hours to accommodate them. For example, now the fitness center is open three evenings per week, and the center is beginning to schedule fitness classes in that time slot as well.
The Myerberg Center’s summer program lineup reflects the changing needs and varied interests of its members.
Sadovnik said the program kicked off on June 2 with a program called, “Down Memory Lane with Camp Louise.” Former campers saw a slide show with photos from Camp Louise from its earliest days to today and shared a traditional camp lunch.
“We served sticky buns with cottage cheese,” a treat Sadovnik, a 1990s-era Louise camper, said was once a camp tradition. “The women saw photos of themselves and their mothers! It was really a great day.”
On June 8, the Myerberg hosted its annual Grace Schnitzer summer art show, and on July 25, members will have lunch and be treated to a performance by the Tzofim Israel Scouts.
Other new and expanding programs include the Bagel Boys men’s club, technology workshops and classes such as introduction to poetry, Tai Chi, digital photography and conversational Yiddish.
The Myerberg’s Dorothy Orfus Stein art program is already well known for its high quality. The center has also formed partnerships with the Jewish Museum of Maryland, the Baltimore Zionist District and the Creative Alliance, enabling innovative programs that include the museum’s salon series, Creative Alliance’s intergenerational lantern-making workshop and a series called “Israel Promise and Politics” taught by Israeli scholars and AIPAC and BZD members. There will also be an expanded music program, a genealogy course and a World War II program taught by a survivor of the Japanese occupation.
The Myerberg Center’s state-of-the-art fitness center, built in 2008, may be the best deal in town. The 2400-square-foot facility features strength-training equipment, cardio machines and free weights. For $30 per hour, members can work with one of the center’s personal trainers. The cost for membership at the Myerberg Center is $42 per year, and membership at the fitness center costs $315 per year. Fitness classes include aerobics, circuit training, Zumba and yoga. And although much of the center’s new programs are geared toward the “younger” set, the Myerberg Center hasn’t forgotten its older and frailer population. They also offer chair Zumba, chair Pilates, seniorcize and a new miniseries called Exercise for Strong Bones. “That program has really taken off,” Sadovnik noted. “Sometimes women who haven’t worked out before think they can’t do it. But that shouldn’t stop them. Everyone who signed up for the strong bones series ended up registering for aerobics. Not only do we see people living longer, they are living better.”
Other area senior centers are also offering new and innovative programs for the summer months. At Pikesville Senior Center, July programs include wellness-themed programs such as a lunch and learn program on reflexology, a brain fitness presentation and a Salad Extravaganza on July 9. For the politically minded, the center will sponsor a Q&A session with Sue Cohen, a representative for Congressman Michael Sarbanes, on July 8. On July 14, members can attend a Jewish history discussion with Rabbi Dovid Lefkowitz, director of senior Jewish learning at the Etz Chaim Center. The Pikesville Senior Center also boasts a state-of-the-art fitness center, where classes in Zumba and yoga are offered.
Area community colleges waive tuition for adult learners over 60 years old. Offerings include arts courses such as painting and drawing, computer literacy courses in social media and Adobe photoshop, history and politics. With campuses located in Hunt Valley, Catonsville and Owings Mills, as well as online, the courses are easy to access.
And don’t forget the JCC. Both locations offer group fitness, acquatics and ceramics classes specifically geared toward older adults, said Melissa Berman. In addition, the JCC presents its Warm Houses programs, which “are designed to develop connections among seniors to create a support system and connected community,” said Berman. “Groups gather weekly in their homes, in their own comfort zones, [and seniors have a chance] to participate in conversational activities and educational activities. Participants also gather monthly for large-scale special programs with featured presenters and opportunities to interact in a larger group setting.”
Warm Houses programs take place at Weinberg Village and other residential facilities along the Park Heights Avenue corridor.
For more information, about summer programs for seniors, contact the Edward A. Myerberg Center (myerberg.org) at 410-358-6856; the Pikesville Senior Center (baltimore countymd.gov) at 410-887-1245; and the JCC (jcc.org) at 410-356-5200.