MEXICO — The last class for seniors’ exercise group Moving Freely at Mexico’s Recreation Center on Wednesday included a surprise pickleball game led by instructor Mitzi Sequoia.

Sequoia has been teaching the class for seven years, but the class had its beginnings in 1995, she said.

Following the spirited game, Sequoia explained the health benefits of the activity to the eight participating seniors. By using their arms and legs, they helped their balance and muscles, she said.

“You need to like what you’re doing or you won’t keep doing it,” and it’s helpful if an activity involves all of the senses, she said.

Leah Palmer, dubbed by Sequoia as the “star” of the group because of her rollicking nature, said she loved playing the game and laughed the entire time.

Before joining the Moving Freely class that morning, Palmer spent three hours exercising on the treadmill and using other exercise machines in the workout room, her regular routine.


Another member, Anna Shaw, said she has always liked sports, especially when she played softball in her school days, and has been active with the Moving Freely group since its start in 1995.

Member Carolynne Nash attributes the class and Sequoia’s help with increasing her sense of balance, which she says has improved since taking the class. And member Millie Carver likes to include line dancing in Rumford to keep herself physically active.

Sequoia thinks people need to change their thinking about seniors and their abilities.

“Seniors are not limited people; they are helpers, they are well-read, and they are giving to our communities. But we need communities that are age-friendly,” she said.

The next Moving Freely class is in March. Classes are sponsored by Androscoggin Home Health Care and Hospice in Lewiston, Rumford Hospital and the River Valley Healthy Communities. A $15 donation is suggested.

Another class in its fourth week at the recreation center is A Matter of Balance, a free eight-week program Tuesdays from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., sponsored by Rumford Hospital and SeniorsPlus of Lewiston. The class teaches seniors to be aware of their environment in order to avoid falling, and it teaches them exercises to maintain their sense of balance.

The seniors exercise group Moving Freely enjoys a game of pickleball Wednesday morning at the Mexico Recreation Center. The next six-week session starts in March. From left are Michael Sleeper, Anna Shaw, Joan Pellerin, Florence Whynot, Millie Carver, Carolynne Nash, Evelyn Kenney, Leah Palmer and Mitzi Sequoia. (Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times)

Moving Freely exercise instructor Mitzi Sequoia demonstrates how someone can use their own body weight to become stronger. She leads seniors at the Mexico Recreation Center. (Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times)

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