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KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) — They call him the “Richard Simmons of Kokomo.”

Albeit, a noticeably toned down version of Simmons.

There are no short-shorts or eclectic sweat headbands, but Robert “Bob” Abresch still has the right amount of energy to engage the group of seniors who frequent his class every Tuesday at Primrose Retirement Community of Kokomo.

“People need to stay in motion,” Abresch said. “They need to keep moving and that’s the whole idea of this. . We just didn’t want people to sit in their rooms and do nothing.”

“In Motion with Bob” is a weekly class for residents of the facility, where they’re able to do moderate exercises that improve flexibility and overall health.

“We just focus on every joint in the body, taking it through its full range of motion as much as possible,” Abresch said after finishing up an hour-long class for about 12 participants.

The workout class has been available to residents of Primrose and open to the public since November 2017. However, Abresch has been working as a certified occupational therapy assistant for nearly 40 years.

“This program (for seniors) was actually developed by myself and a physical therapist,” he said. “We try to use as few exercises as possible, but touch on all movement of all the joints and all the muscles.”

As the program has gotten more popular, Abresch has found himself traveling around Kokomo hosting classes at local senior homes.

When Primrose adopted the program less than a year ago, the organization’s life enrichment coordinator knew the class would be beneficial to residents.

“We want to treat the mind, body and spirit,” said Eric Brown, Primrose life enrichment coordinator. “If we can incorporate all of that, which we do, we help people as a whole actually to make their better quality of life.”

The classes are usually attended by roughly a dozen people. And as music plays in the background — usually country, rock ‘n’ roll, Motown, or even swing music — Abresch guides participants in light stretches and flexing of their wrists, arms and leg muscles.

There’s never pressure on residents to keep up, as Abresch constantly reminds them throughout the session to go at their own pace. Chairs are standard as a prop for residents to use while exercising, but standing and moving is also encouraged.

Macon Traxler, 90, frequents the class and she says she’s made many friends, and more importantly, it’s helped her to stay healthy.

“I need the exercise, otherwise I lose strength,” Traxler said. “In the long run, I think you feel better. It does help to keep from gaining weight with the good food they feed you here.”

The program has seen so much success in roughly five months that Primrose has added an additional day for the class starting in April. Abresch will now be teaching classes from 10-11 a.m. every Tuesday and Saturday.

And at 68 years old, Abresch is far from tired. He said that one morning, he’s certain to wake up and probably not want to teach aerobics classes anymore, but that hasn’t happened yet because he still wants to help people.

“I think the whole idea behind this is not to build athletes,” he said. “We’re not going to see anybody come out of here and go into the Senior Olympics. ‘In Motion’ is just keeping people in motion. We breathe air because that’s what we’re supposed to do as humans. We eat — that’s what we’re supposed to do.

“The exercising is a little more difficult. You have to motivate yourself to exercise, but if you do you’re going to feel better, you’re going to eat better, you’re going to sleep better.”


Source: Kokomo Tribune


Information from: Kokomo Tribune,