Stretch, strengthen and get techy

Claremont is made up of a distinctive fusion of students, families, academics, with a sizable—and vocal—contingent of seniors. And that demographic has been the beneficiary of the city’s robust senior services program for decades.

While other cities have cut back programs, Claremont’s senior programs continue to expand and transform, with a robust offering of classes, workshops, lectures, low-cost breakfasts and lunches, as well as a lending library, all out of the Joslyn Center at 660 N. Mountain Ave.

“People who come in from the outside are like, ‘Wow, they’re really loud and happy here and everyone’s moving around,’” said Claremont Senior Services site coordinator Christina Delgado. “And I’m like, ‘Yeah, they have their life to live.’ It’s cool.”

The effervescent 25-year-old has been working for the city since 2015, when she was fresh out of the University of La Verne with a bachelor’s degree in political science.

“I was inspired by my parents, especially my mom,” she said. “I looked at her, and she’s getting close to her 60s, and thought, ‘Man, she’s kind of withdrawn and she’s really not socializing as much anymore. She’s not having fun.’ I just want to make [the Joslyn Center] the kind of place my mom would want to come to and have fun, learn and make new friends.”

Judging by the bustle on Tuesday morning, it appears things are going as planned.

Claremont resident Karen Neiuber, 72, had just finished up a core strengthening class, which is blend of orthopedic exercise, physical therapy, Pilates, yoga and tai chi.

“It’s not only fun, but he’s a great instructor,” she said of Evan Russo. “It’s really helpful, just feeling stronger. It’s such an asset to the community to have this center, and to have all the programs that they do so reasonably priced.”

Exercise, personal enrichment, presentations, seminars, excursions, support groups and even free courses at the Claremont Colleges are just some of the amenities available through the city’s senior services. Prices run from free to fairly inexpensive.

Mr. Russo, 30, is new to teaching at the Joslyn.

“I’ve been working with seniors my whole career, so about 10 years,” he said.

The UCLA graduate worked in a physical therapist’s office, where the bulk of his clients were seniors.

“It was kind of natural. I was working on what’s called ‘transitional training,’ which is essentially preventing injury by staying balanced and staying strong so you don’t get hurt,” he said.

Longtime Claremont resident and 1963 Claremont High graduate Marcia Redmond, 73, is one of three seniors in her family who are availing themselves to the Joslyn’s bounty.

“My husband is coming here with my mother, who is 96,” she said. “What I really like about this class is they’re showing people how to fall the proper way, then how to get up and balance. Strengthening the core muscles is so important.”

Ms. Delgado agreed.

“I’ve heard testimony from people who’ve taken our balance and mobility class who say, ‘I’m still around because of this class because I’ve learned how to not fall, or to fall better,’” she said.

Claremont’s programming diversity—so much more than typical activities such as Bingo or pinochle—are a point of pride for city staff.

“They want to learn, they want to exercise, and they want to grow,” Ms. Delgado said of the Claremont seniors she works with. “One of things I took on is there are lot of young seniors out there, in their 50s and 60s, who want to work out.”

In addition to exercise, programming has long included tech classes. A new monthly “Teen Techy” drop-in workshop began this week, with local kids volunteering to help seniors navigate digital devices. The workshop gives good-hearted teens a chance to give back to their community, while providing seniors a chance to learn from the masters: namely, anyone under the age of 25.

“It does go with a lot of goals as far as inter-generational programming, and getting [seniors] more tech savvy,” Ms. Delgado said. “It’s a great way for them to be more independent and age in place if they know how to use their smartphone to its full potential.”

With desktop computer use dwindling, the city’s senior programming is adjusting accordingly.

“We’re trying to commit to a post-PC era,” Ms. Delgado said. “We’re really moving away from having computer classes teaching how to use a desktop computer, to having more opportunity to learn about handheld mobile devices, whether it be a laptop, a tablet or a smartphone.”

A free cell phone photography workshop will kick off this summer.

“They’ll learn how to take a photo, edit it, send it to their grandkids, or post it somewhere, save it somewhere or print it out,” Ms. Delgado said. “These days, nobody’s really using digital cameras to take pictures, they’re using their phones, and some don’t really know how to do it. My mom doesn’t, and I’m like, ‘Mom, you should probably take the class.”

With a broad swath of seniors suddenly becoming smartphone camera savvy, Claremont grandchildren could soon be on the receiving end of photos from their grandparents, instead of the other way around.

“That actually sounds like a joy,” Ms. Delgado said. “It would be so weird. I would love that.”

Claremont seniors are lucky to have a dedicated group of city employees offering programming that continues to be adventurous, educational and yes, inspirational.

“I know local government isn’t that glamorous, but when you hear the gratitude coming in with people saying, ‘I’m so glad I have a place to come to,’ it’s just cool. It does give you the feels. It’s a little tiny, microcosmic thing, but it’s cool.”

Her mother is a believer as well. She took weaving class last year. “She made me a really cool purse for Christmas,” Ms. Delgado said. “It’s full of fringe and different colors. It’s really cool.”

For more information about the Claremont senior program, go to ci.claremont.ca.us and click “government,” “human-services” then “seniors.” To register for a class, visit claremontrec.com or, for those who’ve yet to complete one of the city’s tech courses, simply call the Joslyn Center at (909) 399-5488.

—Mick Rhodes

mickrhodes@claremont-courier.com

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