Locals 55 & up staying fit with Golden Opportunity

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, August 22, 2018

LAPLACE — With life expectancy increasing among men and women, April Aucoin of LaPlace said older adults in the community should stay active to make the best of their golden years.

Aucoin works as a fitness instructor for Ochsner Health System’s Golden Opportunity lifestyle program, an initiative that delivers guided exercise and social experiences to adults, ages 55 and older.

Aucoin hosts one-hour classes three times a week in LaPlace, guiding members through stretching techniques, yoga, Pilates, Zumba, flexibility and balance training.

Participants roll resistance balls and learn line dances, meeting new friends along the way.

Jocylyn Yuja of LaPlace has been enrolled in the program for close to a year, and she said the improvements she’s seen in her strength and balance are going to help her remain independent for years to come.

“The results surpass the other programs and fitness centers I have tried,” Yuja said. “I’ve increased my muscle tone, fitness and overall well being.”

Since starting classes in February, Linda McTopy has felt a difference in her body and range of motion. She said Aucoin always instructs with a smile on her face and finds a way to make each exercise fun.

Aucoin said participants enjoy being able to socialize with their peers.

“Most of them are here three days a week, and very few miss classes,” Aucoin said. “Some of them who have been training with me since I started there last October are conditioned and healthier now. They tell me they want to keep going longer than one hour.”

Classes are held from 9 to 10 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday on the third floor of the Ochsner facility at 502 Rue de Sante, the site of the old River Parishes Hospital.

Aucoin said Golden Opportunity membership is $25 to join for the first year and $15 to renew membership for each additional year. Married couples can enroll for the first year for $40.

In addition to attending fitness training, Golden Opportunity members can also attend group outings, according to Aucoin. Each member receives a calendar listing of social outings, she said.

The group meets at a designated location, boards a bus and enjoys day trips to the mall, Saenger Theatre and other attractions in greater New Orleans.

According to ochsner.org, Golden Opportunity members have access to seminars on health, legal and financial topics, as well as holiday celebrations and volunteer opportunities.

“Ideally, Ochsner wants to keep people out of the hospital by keeping them active and well,” Aucoin said. “In our little world, it’s been a wonderful thing. I thought more of the community could benefit from knowing about it.”

For more information, call 504-842-7000.