Seniors 55 and older should be excited about a new YMCA initiative. The YMCA will soon introduce a tennis program geared to keep seniors active.
The free six-week forum will begin this coming Tuesday, July 21, and continue every Tuesday and Thursday beginning at 8:00 a.m. - 9:15 a.m. Other that physical activity, the aim is also to help seniors to remain healthy.
While the junior developmental tennis program continues to grow stronger, the tennis instructor at the YMCA, McArthur Rigby, shared that it’s his desire to get more older persons involved with playing tennis from a health and social perspective.
“The junior program is going really good now. A lot of people have given a lot to the Y and we think it’s time now to give the seniors, especially Bahamian retirees, who are just sitting down, something exciting to do.
“So, we’re going to give them a free six-week tennis program. We can make it very easy and enjoyable for them. It will be more than just about tennis for them. From the beginning they’re going to enjoy it,” said Rigby.
The tennis instructor added that he is hopeful the program will do for other older persons what it did for him. He noted that at 65 years old the sport has provided more of a social life for him.
According to Rigby, training will be very easy for the seniors as the proper equipment would be in place.
“What we’ve learned about older persons is that they would go back and stay in their houses and become more secluded. So what I found is, the major benefit is really the social life and exercise together.
“It’s something to do, rather than just stay in the house all day doing nothing. So, those retirees who have nothing to do, we’re trying to get them on the court. We want them to become excited because every day will bring something new.
“We got a huge donation of red balls (training balls). The modern day of teaching tennis is very easy. People who have played before feel as though they can’t play because they were playing with a heavy bouncing ball. If you see the kids, they are having fun because they have the right kind of ball they can use. It’s really easy when the sport is introduced the right way. I can guarantee that after six weeks everyone would want to come back.”
The YMCA has an ongoing senior program on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays where older persons can register and join. Shirley Butler, a member of the program and someone who has played the sport for over 40 years, plays at the YMCA three times out of the week and encourages other seniors that the sport is much more than just exercise.
“It’s very social and very enjoyable exercise. McArthur is a really good coach and great teacher, and, this program is a worthwhile one for anyone of any age.”
Marlene Henry, another member, didn’t start playing the sport until she was 55 years old. At 72 years old she voiced that it is something people can play, up into their later years. Adding some more positivity, Henry shared she has competed in a senior tournament that is played annually within the Caribbean region, three years in a row.
Overall, she believes getting involved in tennis, no matter the age, is incredibly rewarding.
“You get to exercise at your pace. You just play as much as you want to play. If you play two games and want to stop it’s fine. Out here, even though it gets competitive, there’s no “king of the hill,” and everyone encourages each other.
“It’s good fun and you get to meet lots of people. I would love for more seniors to play and it keeps your blood flowing.”
Executive Director of the YMCA, Karon Pinder-Johnson, said she is excited to launch this free six-week program. She also indicated it is also a great way to give back to some of the seniors who helped with cleaning up the courts after Hurricane Dorian.
“The courts were donated back in 2015 by Sir Jack Hayward, Craig Symonette and Cris Limcole. The vision for the courts here is to have as many people moving as possible. The upcoming program is just a testimony to that vision.
“Hurricane Dorian was tough for everyone here. The courts were submerged under water and as a result the courts were extremely dirty along with mildew. We tried all we could but with limited resources we were unable to get the court cleaned.
“The seniors, however, came together and they paid for the courts to be cleaned. We just want to say thank you. Thinking so much about it, they were able to go out and get it done,” she concluded.