Two men playing ping-pong.

You won’t find brassy blondes in tight leotards or Spandex-clad muscle heads. Instead the Wellness Center at Tanglewood Park provides holistic wellness opportunities for all adults, with a focus for those over the age of 55, to be nourished, active, learning and living independently! All at the pace they need and to accommodate any mobility challenges.

Weight lifting, elliptical machines, stationary bikes and exercise classes are held five days a week from early morning to some evenings. There’s also ping-pong, wood carving, stitching groups and art classes for enrichment. And when everyone is done with their activities, the Driftwood Café offers a range of beverages, soups and sandwiches made fresh daily from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday.

“People who visit here are amazed at all we have,” Wellness Manager Renee Sischo said. “Truly, they call it a hidden gem in the community.”

In addition to the offerings at the Wellness Center, senior activities are held across Muskegon County. Aquatic exercise classes are held at the Muskegon Heights Public School Aquatics Center and a handful of stretching exercise, wreath making and other enrichment classes are held in community locations, partnering with the Lunch & Activity Centers across the three-county region served.

Richard S., 77, visits the Wellness Center four days each week. He likes weight lifting, physical fitness classes and swimming. He also meets a friend for a wood carving session each week.

Being physically fit helped him tolerate a harsh course of chemotherapy and beat cancer about four years ago. His oncologist told him at the time that being healthy and active made all the difference, so Richard continues his efforts to exercise and socialize with friends.

“[The Wellness Center] isn’t just for physical fitness,” he explained. “It’s really important for mental fitness too.”

The Wellness Center also helped Curtis T. rediscover a sport from his teen years – ping-pong!

After a triple bypass operation, he had to get regular exercise into his life, but at a pace he could manage. He joined the Wellness Center’s partner program Silver Sneakers and during his orientation to the cardio machines, Fitness Specialist Francine Calandro asked him if he liked ping-pong.

With the help of an intern and other interested players, regular ping-pong sessions are now part of the offerings at the Wellness Center. Curtis had to take a break during autumn after a shoulder replacement surgery, but he’s eager to keep the group going, especially during the cooler months when outdoor activities are curtailed by the cold and icy conditions.

Thanks to generous donors, a gently used ping-pong table was donated, along with the funding to purchase a new table and all the other wish list items from the last issue of Behind the Wheel. The Wellness Center also was the focus of AgeWell Services’ Giving Tuesday fundraising campaign, an effort to raise $5,000 for health-related program funds.

Funding for Senior Activities also is provided by Senior Resources and the Muskegon County Senior Millage.

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