Older, But Just as Active

East Area Family Y takes age out of equation when it comes to fitness, fun

By Matthew Liptak

Group activities organized by the East Area Family YMCA include a boat trip on Skaneateles Lake.
Group activities organized by the East Area Family YMCA include a boat trip on Skaneateles Lake.

The East Area Family YMCA recently changed the name of its program designed specifically for seniors, hoping to incorporate opportunities for people of all ages.

But the program’s coordinator says most participants continue to be the 55-and-older crowd, and the programs it offers are just as relevant to seniors.

“Basically, it is about programs offering health seminars, outings and tours of local facilities, or bus trips to farther locations, and social luncheons,” said active adults coordinator Eric Feldstein. “It’s really about enhancing the fitness aspect of the YMCA to go hand-in-hand with improving social interaction as well. We used to just call it Active Older Adults. It was catered to retired folks. It’s still mostly, because we tend to do activities during the daytime during the week, but we do try to promote it to the whole YMCA.”

The Y comes up with outing ideas itself and also takes suggestions from members. They go to varied destinations. Some might be seen as rather ordinary local facilities, but they wind up making pretty interesting and stimulating trips.

“We just went to the water treatment plant earlier this week,” he said. “The tour guide talked about the process of how water is treated. We got to walk around the facility and do some nice physical activity along with [absorbing] some great information given to us as well.

Other places program participants have gone to include Peterboro, home of the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum, to explore the community’s abolitionist roots; Syracuse Stage, for a behind-the-scenes tour, and they even went on campus to explore the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.

One of their more popular outings is a bus trip to New York City.

Off to Big Apple

“We did a bus trip to New York City, a one-day trip, [and] saw a matinee of “Waitress” the musical, and had a nice buffet dinner and came back that night,” he said.

Some of the longer bus trips can cost around $100, Feldstein said, but most outings are $15 or $20.


YMCA members get a discount on activities. The coordinator said there about 500 core members who are usually most active with the programs. Programs usually have 20 to 70 people attending.

“Every month, I’ll send out all of what’s coming up for the month. We also do regular Mahjong and Scrabble games,” he said. “We even do bridge. We have a book club. I have a garden club we do every month as well. The first day of the month, we have a meet-and-greet where we try to have volunteers call any newer members to come and join us. They can meet some people and find out also what’s going on for that month as well.”

Feldstein said most activities and outings are scheduled for weekdays, but he is trying to expand the offerings. He expects to include more weekday evening opportunities for those who might have to work during the day.

He wants the YMCA not just to be a center of physical health, but of social health too.

“Most people think health, wellness, or fitness when they think of the YMCA at first, but there’s all different programs,” he said. “It’s a great environment to not only just get fit, but to improve social interaction, find some great new friends, and give back to the community as well.”

For now, most of the members who are participating in this newly named program continue to be seniors. It is just another opportunity for older folks to enjoy their Central New York community.

“Typically, our members are 60 to mid-80s range and we’re trying to incorporate more 30s, 40s, 50s,” Feldstein said. “We’re trying to fill that gap.”

For more information, call Feldstein at 315-637-2025 ext. 229 or go to http://www.syracuse.ymca.org/programs/healthy-living/fitness/active-older-adults.html.