Join AARP New Jersey for New Online Health and Exercise Classes

After spending nine months on the couch recovering from spinal surgery in 2019, Gladys Williams was ready to get back in shape. She was about to start her physical therapy and she started taking fitness classes at a local senior center. Then came the pandemic.

“Everything shut down and now I’m sitting at home, couch-bound and stiff,” says the 69-year-old Jersey City resident.

So when Williams learned that AARP New Jersey was offering free virtual fitness classes, he rushed to sign up.

Now she’s a familiar face at her monthly healthy living sessions on Zoom, where she participates in Tai Chi and her favorite, chair yoga. Cameras are optional, but I keep them on so I can feel connected to the group.

“Doing physical therapy on my own until I was able to go to a facility was an invaluable resource for me,” says Williams, who is also an AARP volunteer. “I love the fact that it’s right in your living room, and it’s free, which means you can’t beat it.”

This session was initiated as a way to keep older people engaged during the pandemic. But it was such a hit that AARP New Jersey decided to keep offering it monthly, says Julie Marte, her director of the Associate State of Community Outreach.

Popular classes attract hundreds of attendees to learn more about AARP New Jersey and resources that support healthy living, she said.

“The great thing about Zoom is that we don’t have to limit attendance like we do in classroom events,” says Marte. “Distance doesn’t matter.”

exercise for brain health

Attendees can choose from a rotating line-up of classes held at noon and in the evening two to three times a month. In addition to yoga and Tai Chi, sessions include Zumba, Latin dance and healthy cooking.

Perlin’s 67-year-old Michelle Murphy leads a team of four AARP volunteers who host classes led by fitness instructors and local chefs.

She recently joked with her Tai Chi instructor, saying, “There are a lot of groupies here.”

The one-hour class includes low-impact exercises, so anyone can participate. Instructors show people how to modify their workouts if they want to reduce the intensity.

In this series, participants also learned about ways to support brain health. Continuous exercise is one of his six pillars of brain health recommended by AARP’s “Staying Sharp” program. Alongside proper diet, adequate sleep, socializing, brain engagement, and stress management.

According to the National Institute on Aging, studies show that staying active reduces stress, improves mood, and improves or maintains some aspects of brain function.

This month’s class will be held on Wednesday, May 25th and will include a short presentation on brain health.Lineup for Zumba at lunch and Yoga at 6pm

On Wednesday, June 15, AARP New Jersey will offer Tai Chi at 8am and noon, and Chair Yoga at 6pm. For more information on brain health, visit

Natalie Misakian is a writer living in Cheshire, Connecticut.

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