Finding the ‘Fountain of Youth’ at the Pembroke Pines YMCA

Dancing the cha-cha slide, throwing balls and chasing each other around the basketball court, baby boomers proved they, too, could be in shape at the YMCA Pembroke Pines Family Center’s event Wednesday promoting “50 Moving Forward.”

The YMCA was one of 25 pilot locations nationwide to participate in the program specifically designed for adults 50 and older. Activities will be held nearly every day at the Pembroke Pines branch through August, and at the South Dade YMCA off 134th Street.

Fifty, it seems, really is the new 30.

As the banners at the YMCA proclaimed, “Who said it’s all downhill from here?”

The group of more than 70 that braved a rainy day was made up mainly of women ages 50 to 87.

An exuberant Lilia Magsino challenged others to guess her age.

Judy Rojas, 74, ventured a guess: “55!”

Magsino laughed. “76.”

“I’m still very strong,” said Magsino, explaining that she runs the field with her grandchildren before baseball games.

“Every time there is an event for seniors, I’m always present because if you just stay home, you become old,” she said.

The crowd agreed Magsino was anything but old.

Three rooms at the Y provided activities structured specifically for those 50 and older, a demographic not specifically targeted in the past. Among them, Matter of Balance, a fall prevention program to improve balance and reduce fear of falling, and Actionary, a charade-type game in which participants act out the words on a card.

In the main room, recess kept the crowd of about 40 busy. Pairs threw balls at each other while an instructor joked, “If you drop the ball, you have to do 10 push-ups!” Participants cheered each other on as they chased after their partners, trying to pin them on the back with colorful pompom balls. Laughs filled the room.

“With exercise and health prevention, this is the fountain of youth,” said Maryalicia Johnson, spokeswoman for the Broward County YMCA.

Baptist Health South Florida representatives were on hand, providing participants with free blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose and osteoporosis screenings. The line snaked around the table as the morning wore on.

When Patty Frondczak, 63, did her tests, she was astounded to see that her blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels were in good shape.

“No way, you’re lying to me!” she said as she received her test results. “I’m so excited, I’m going to celebrate!”

Participants stopped by to get tested or to try some of the healthy juice blends between activities. Raffles had a variety of prizes, among them a 30-minute session with a trainer that Frondczak won.

She jogged up to the center of the basketball court, clad in a black and turquoise workout outfit and cheetah print jacket, to claim her prize.

Frondczak and friend, Barbara Mills, 74, go to the YMCA almost every day. For Frondczak, Mills is an inspiration.

“She’s 10 years older than I am and she does all the exercises I do,” Frondczak said. “It gives me hope that when I’m in my 70s, I’ll be healthy if I just keep exercising.”