LeCount Holmes

By Mylika Scatliffe
Special to the AFRO

LeCount Holmes has a passion for keeping senior citizens healthy. More specifically he wishes for seniors to be healthy, productive, and not to give in to aging. While working for SAGE (Seasoned Adults Growing Educationally), a program in Prince George’s County, Md., he decided to further act on this passion. His job at SAGE is to sign up seniors for activities such as volleyball, aerobics and chess with the goal of keeping their minds and bodies healthy. Due to COVID, in-person classes shut down in April 2020 and shifted to Zoom. LeCount found himself easily intimidated by Zoom and didn’t initially participate in virtual teaching. “I was demotivated by my head trips,” he recalls. “I’ve always been a positive, go-getter type of person and I believe in speaking power into the universe.” He has a zeal for teaching and the desire to empower people, especially seniors, to take charge of their wellness. With that in mind, he practiced using Zoom until he became comfortable. On February 27, Seniors Up & Moving began. 

Currently the Seniors Up & Moving Class consists of 5-6 faithful members. They gather every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:30 am for chair and floor exercises under Holmes’ tutelage. The gallery view on your laptop or TV screen gives you a glance into various student’s homes; a sunroom, a living room, a bedroom – everyone perched on a chair, with resistance bands and water bottles nearby and ready to go. After the greetings and exchanges of pleasantries, Holmes’ animated voice cheerfully orders everyone to get moving to the beat of classic tunes by everyone from Diana Ross and Donna Summer to Beyonce, Cameo and Michael Jackson. The class requires minimal equipment – resistance bands, a set of dumbbells and an exercise mat. Elements of stretching, yoga and aerobics are meshed together for a challenging workout. Sometimes the only equipment required is  body weight. Although the majority of this class takes place seated in a chair; it’s high paced almost the entire time. The instruction style is energetic and motivating, without being overbearing. Everyone is given a demonstration of the right way to complete an exercise, and students are gently corrected if they are not on track.  Proper breathing is encouraged throughout the entire class, including the floor exercises at the end. Everyone seems to have a good time, even during the dreaded (by some) floor/core exercises.

LeCount teaching a Seniors Up & Moving session.

Sylvia Holmes,  LeCount’s ex-wife, is 68 and has attended since the beginning.  “I was excited for LeCount when he decided to start the class. He’s an inspiring person. He teaches with concern and knows how to encourage and motivate us without being pushy,” she said. She lives in Indianapolis and is very physically active. She goes to the gym 3-4 times per week, does water aerobics twice a week, and rides up to 20 miles per week on her bike. Being stuck inside during COVID was a challenge, but she finds the class in line with her level of physical fitness. 

Burnnetta Caldwell is 71 and had a knee replacement in September  2020. She has found the class is ideal for her since it’s done seated and is low impact. She most enjoys the camaraderie and social atmosphere of the class and recognizes the importance of health for seniors. “It’s important for seniors to see they have the right to be healthy. We don’t have to just accept that you can’t do anything as a result of aging. We should do what we can and develop the ability to do more, Caldwell said. “We have a good group of personalities in the class and  LeCount is good at building morale. I love to see his energy.”

An injury hasn’t deterred 72-year-old Lorraine Poindexter.  A member of the class from  the beginning, she broke her fibula playing with her great niece. In fact, she’s anxious to recover so she can continue.  She’s always enjoyed one type of fitness or another from water aerobics to Zumba to belly dancing to bike riding and has noticed  improved muscle tone since starting the classes. “I set a goal to lose 5 pounds and 2 inches. I’m more interested in the inches and looking good in my clothes,” Poindexter said with a chuckle. “LeCount challenges us, and I learned I can do more than I thought.”

Lorraine Poindexter during class.

LeCount’s desire is to see seniors maintain healthy and active lives, particularly in the black community.  Illnesses that are improved with diet and exercise such as diabetes, obesity, and hypertension greatly affect the black community. He’s been a  certified personal trainer for 11 years and is a certified  water aerobics instructor.  He’s keenly aware that many of the fitness classes he’s taught have been filled predominantly with White students.  “Slavery ended in 1863. My great-grandmother was born in 1859 and died in 1968 so we’re not that far removed from slavery. Starting with the Baby Boomer generation, it became more common for us to go to college and take vacations. We traditionally didn’t have the freedom and access to leisure time and money for things like travel and dedicated fitness routines. We were too busy working and surviving, but times have changed,” Holmes said.   “We should be taking advantage of the time and resources available to us now. We take care of our houses, our cars, our nails, our hair. If we don’t take care of our bodies,  everything else is fruitless. Every day you’re alive is a miracle, breathing is a miracle. People watch us when we least expect it, especially children, so we want them to know being healthy is important,” he said.

In addition to the chair fitness, Seniors Up and Moving offers a monthly digital newsletter and periodic guest speakers from organizations like the American Cancer Society and AARP. The class is $30 per month for twice weekly classes, because Holmes feels strongly about keeping the class attainable. The virtual platform is a huge advantage; there’s no reason to miss class because of bad weather, transportation issues, or a global pandemic.

According to LeCount, “Our bodies are precious, a blessing and a gift. We can’t enjoy material things if we’re not healthy. Go to the doctor. Eat Healthy. Exercise. Let your children and loved ones see you being active.”  

LeCount would love to see his class grow to 30-40 students.  Learn more and register for classes at seniorsupmoving.com.

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