Born and raised in Williamsport, 72-year-old Ray has been a member of the YMCA since 1985. He says he enjoys the activities so much that he has brought many of his "buddies" into the facility so they can share the experience he gets.
"I started my fitness regime by coming every day after work and using the strength training machines and treadmill," Ray said.
Over the years, Ray has quit smoking, tried each new activity as it's been presented, attended flexibility classes, and now, having arrived at his "senior" years, realizes that making exercise a priority has been one of the best things he's ever done for himself.
"Within the past year, I've stabilized my health and blood sugar through use of the Expresso bikes. I'm addicted to the bike and have reached over 1,000 miles," he explained.
He emphasizes that he really enjoys coming in to take part in his workout and hopes that, as he continues to age, working out at the YMCA can still be a consistent part of his daily routine.
With financial support from Lycoming County United Way, the Williamsport YMCA offers anyone age 60 or older the opportunity to continue being healthy, active and stay atop of their mental capability.
Through different activities and programs, the organization serves more than 550 seniors, which is about a quarter of its adult membership.
The purpose of the YMCA's senior program is to provide an avenue in which a large number of senior citizens can become involved and participate through programs specifically designed for their populations' needs, as well as general health-related activities. All of the programs are designed to provide seniors with a means of daily exercise and also a social outlet.
Martha is another active participant in the senior program.
At "83 years young," she has lived in Williamsport all her life and joined the YMCA about six years ago.
Martha said she initially started using the bike and walking the indoor track five days a week through the suggestion of her orthopedic surgeon, who she was seeing for an injured shoulder and knees.
Staff there say the other participants have been very impressed with the stamina and endurance Martha has and she has been a role model for those around her. In addition to the physical activities, there are social events, too.
"The senior program would be lacking if Martha wasn't a part of the social luncheons. Her homemade food is always a hit with everyone that attends," said Chad Eberhart, executive director of the Williamsport branch. "Over the past year, she's seen her share of rough times due to illness and hasn't gotten back all of her energy she once had, but still continues to observe her habit of exercise."
"I would like to continue to learn new techniques and how to use different pieces of equipment in my workout in the years to come," Martha said.
In addition, through an effort to increase the number of seniors it serves through both physical activity and social interaction, the organization created a senior committee. The group is made up of senior YMCA members and program participants who volunteer in setting up luncheons and other social events to help attract new senior citizens there and showcase the benefits of being active.
Through its annual funds distribution process determined by community volunteers, the United Way allocated $9,500 for the senior programs.
"We are pleased to be able to fund the senior program at the Y because it makes a real difference in the lives of the seniors who participate," said Scott N. Lowery, executive director of the Lycoming County United Way. "Staying active physically and socially is important for seniors to maintain a good quality of life."
For more information on the Senior Program, call the YMCA at 323-7134 or log on to www.rvrymca.org.
For more information about Lycoming County United Way, visit www.lcuw.org, or call 323-9448.