A new virtual exercise program took baby steps Thursday in North Hempstead.
Organized by the town's Project Independence, the program uses a webcam to bring an exercise session into the homes of the town's senior citizens. A professional trainer on the other end provides instruction using the video messaging service Skype.
Thursday’s session was a test run. Evelyn Roth, commissioner of the North Hempstead Department of Services for the Aging, said the department expects to fully launch the program in the next couple of months.
Ilse Sander, 83, of Port Washington, participated in the trial run because medical issues prevent her from continuing her exercise regimen at the gym.
“It sounds like a terrific idea,” Sander said prior to the workout. “It will help me to be more self-sufficient.”
Trainer Mike Mancini ran Thursday’s session from the Town Hall boardroom, where he had his students stretch their quads and work out their arms.
Mancini thinks the concept is excellent. He said one downside is that he can’t see his students from multiple angles, something he takes advantage of in person to ensure a proper workout. But he added that there are ways to compensate.
“I also have them put their hands between the back of the chair and their backs,” he said. “That way I know, and they know, they are stretching the right way.”
Town of North Hempstead residents 60 and older who are interested in the program are encouraged to contact the Department of Services for the Aging by calling 311 from the town limits.
Above, Zelda Meyers, left, and Ilse Sander work out at home March 17, 2011, during a trial run of a virtual exercise program for Town of North Hempstead senior citizens.