Instructor retires after years of making exercise class lots of fun for seniors

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 May 2015 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers – Leslie Allen (in orange) leads a group of senior citizens in an exercise class today at the former Albion Grammar School on East Academy Street.

ALBION – Leslie Allen has run an exercise class for senior citizens on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. She mixes in lots of humor and banter, as well as gimmicks, including “Crazy Sock Day,” which was today’s theme.

Today was also Allen’s last day on the job. She is retiring after leading the class for six years for the Office For the Aging.

Allen has a steady group of about 20 senior citizens. She makes the class fun, while leading the group in free weights, cardio, isometrics with an exercise ball and a cool down. It’s part of the OFA’s efforts to improve balance and strength, to help seniors with fall prevention.

That may sound like a chore, but Allen has made the class enjoyable, said Ann Batt, a regular in the class.

“It’s just fun,” Batt said. “We’re like a family.”

Allen shows off the sock she wore for “Crazy Sock Day.”

Allen and the group have holiday parties and other days with costumes. (Batt dressed up as Harry Potter for Halloween.)

Batt and other class members said they wish Allen well in her retirement.

“She will be missed,” Batt said. “We’re happy for her.”

Allen said the class members have been successful in improving their balance. She sees many other benefits to the program.

“We’ve become a family,” she said. “They keep in touch with each other, sending each other cards and staying connected.”

Leslie Allen joins some of the class members for a photo on “Crazy Sock Day.”

The class will continue with Michele Sargent hired as the new leader of the low-impact exercises.

Allen thanked the class today for their friendship.

“They’ve taught me how to age gracefully and to do it with humor,” she said.