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Staying fit: Island Seniors offers fitness classes five days a week

By Staff | Jun 7, 2017

Connie DeCicco, who teaches Happy Hour Fitness, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, at 8 a.m. does some strength training with her class. MEGHAN McCOY

The Island Seniors offers a lineup of four different classes throughout the week guaranteed to meet everyone’s fitness needs.

Connie DeCicco joined the instructors this year at the Center 4 Life after substituting since 2013. She teaches Happy Hour Fitness Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8 a.m. Her class entails approximately 30 minutes of cardio dance, 20 minutes of strength training with the focus on core work using bands and stability balls and some mat work. The class concludes with stretching.

“So it’s cardio, strength and stretching. It’s a lot of balance work,” DeCicco said.

She choreographs all of her routines, which fall into a block of eight weeks before adding on more. DeCicco said she is up to about 20 combinations now.

“In October when a new season starts we do another 20. So, I start with four and we build up on that,” DeCicco said.

Mahnaz Bassiri explains how to modify a specific movement during her Essential Total Fitness class, which is offered at 9:30 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. MEGHAN McCOY

The music is changed throughout the week, with Latin taking the forefront on Monday, followed by oldies on Wednesday and Fridays are the instructors choice.

“I try to make it fun,” DeCicco said. “If you exercise and it’s not fun, why do it?”

Due to the various levels the students may have, each of the movements are modified to address their needs.

“The instructors will modify according to the needs of the class. We show three different levels, so there is something challenging for those who need it and a little less challenging for another participant,” DeCicco said.

Mahnaz Bassiri, who teaches five days a week at Center 4 Life, began teaching classes there nine years ago, which she continues to thoroughly enjoy.

“I love people and I love to see people taking care of themselves and doing things to stay healthy,” she said.

On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Bassiri teaches Essential Total Fitness at 9:30 a.m. The hour long class includes 30 minutes of cardio, as well as strength and balance training.

She said it is important to remain flexible, as well as work on balance because that is what needs to be maintained to remain healthy.

“It controls blood pressure and fights heart disease and other issues they may have,” Bassiri said.

In addition, she also teaches Power Hour Fitness on Tuesday and Thursday at 8 a.m. This hour long class focuses on strength training, as well as balance, flexibility and floor work.

“They are wonderful people,” she said of her students. “I’m so blessed. They are such beautiful people. So motivated, kind and sweet. I look forward to seeing them. They are like my family and I love them.”

Island Seniors also offers a gentle yoga class on Tuesday and Thursday at 9:30 a.m. and chair yoga on the same days at 11 a.m. with Kim Kouril.

Bassiri began her career as a personal trainer before a friend encouraged her to start teaching fitness classes.

“I’ve been teaching for 20 years,” she said, adding that she loves the Center 4 Life. “This is like home.”

After studying medicine for two years, DeCicco ran out of money and shifted gears.

“I was a professional skater and I auditioned for the Ice Capades. I passed the audition and skated with them and wasn’t too happy. Show business was not like what it looks like it is. I decided I wanted to go back to coaching – figure skating, gymnastics and something to do with the fitness field,” she said.

DeCicco went back to school and obtained a degree in exercise science.

In 1986, the parks and recreation department in New York hired her and she became a fitness coordinator.

“So, I’ve been teaching for about 30 years. It’s my love. After my husband, fitness comes second,” DeCicco said laughing. “You get so rewarded seeing how people improve. Their health has improved. I have found that I am now working more with the seniors. You can see an improvement in that age category also, which is wonderful. Age is only a number. It’s what you do with it.”

DeCicco said some of her students told her they could never stand up from their mat, while doing floor exercises, which they conquered.

“If you drop something off the table, you are going to have to get down on all fours and try to pick up your ring, or whatever you drop. I taught them how to get up from all fours,” she said.

DeCicco said she really loves teaching at the Center 4 Life.

“My alarm goes off in the morning and I’m excited to get over here and meet the classes. It’s definitely a passion,” she said.

Center 4 Life is at 2401 Library Way. For more information, call (239) 472-5743.