Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 4:56 PM on Wednesday, February 29, 2012

'StrongWomen' fitness program comes to Homer

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer

Strong women aren't anything new to the Homer area. Now, a collaboration between South Peninsula Hospital and the Homer Senior Center is offering an avenue for the area's female senior population to become even stronger.

A StrongWomen information session will be held at the hospital's training center, 203 Pioneer Ave., from 6-7:30 p.m. March 7.

"I've been getting a lot of response, a lot of seniors calling me up," said Mary Fries, registered nurse and the hospital's health educator, to the response received after she announced the program.

StrongWomen is an exercise and nutrition program for women 50 and older and was designed by Dr. Miriam Nelson and colleagues at Tufts University.

"The whole program grew out of the need to reduce osteoporosis and hip fractures in women," said Fries. "It has proven very successful."

In fact, the university's research has demonstrated the program increases strength and bone mass, and improves balance.

Although the program has a 50-and-older focus, women of all ages who are starting out on a weight-training program are welcome to attend.

The March 7 informational session is free and includes an opportunity to meet Fries, as well as others who, like Fries, have been trained by StrongWomen: Kelly Luck, Rowen Mulvey, Ramona Pierce and Homer Senior Center activities director Daniel Weisser.

Demonstrations of exercises used in the StrongWomen program will be given, as well as individual health screenings to determine if doctor approval is needed to participate. Doctor permission is required for women over the age of 70. Paperwork to sign up for the program will be available.

StrongWomen classes are due to start in mid to late March at the Homer Senior Center, beginning with a two-times-a-week schedule and eventually expanding to three times a week, said Fries. The cost is $3 per class for senior center members. For nonmembers, it is $5.

"The course is slow. There are some women who work themselves up to 10-pound weights. Some people with no weights," said Fries. "It's pretty individualized. The program is set what it is, but we can modify it."

The StrongWomen program being offered locally sprang out of the Healthy Lifestyles group of MAPP of the Southern Kenai Peninsula, said Fries. For more information, call Fries, 235-0285.