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Published: Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Juggling helps seniors stay fit

  • Liz Windgate, 72, and John Williams, 73, both of Edmonds, attempt to juggle three beach balls by bouncing and tossing them quickly to each other in a ...

    Dan Bates / The Herald

    Liz Windgate, 72, and John Williams, 73, both of Edmonds, attempt to juggle three beach balls by bouncing and tossing them quickly to each other in a triangular pattern Thursday at the Edmonds Senior Center.

  • Liz Windgate, 72, of Edmonds catches one of her juggling balls Thursday at the Edmonds Senior Center.

    Dan Bates / The Herald

    Liz Windgate, 72, of Edmonds catches one of her juggling balls Thursday at the Edmonds Senior Center.

  • Four jugglers, including instructor Randy Engel (right) have their balls momentarily suspended in air, Thursday at the Edmonds Senior Center. The exer...

    Dan Bates / The Herald

    Four jugglers, including instructor Randy Engel (right) have their balls momentarily suspended in air, Thursday at the Edmonds Senior Center. The exercise follows as each person endeavors to retrieve the dropped balls.

  • Pat Albert, 74, (left) receives instruction from Randy Engel, 68, (right) and Liz Windgate (center background)  practices chasing and picking up balls...

    Dan Bates / The Herald

    Pat Albert, 74, (left) receives instruction from Randy Engel, 68, (right) and Liz Windgate (center background) practices chasing and picking up balls Thursday at the Edmonds Senior Center.

  • Instructor Randy Engel,  a semi-retired teacher of organic chemistry (left) is, at 68, the youngest participant in the juggling activities, and freque...

    Dan Bates / The Herald

    Instructor Randy Engel, a semi-retired teacher of organic chemistry (left) is, at 68, the youngest participant in the juggling activities, and frequently can be seen picking up loose balls for others. In this case, he hands a ball to Pat Albert, 74.

  • Instructor Randy Engel gets the class going by handing the first ball to John Williams on Thursday at the Edmonds Senior Center.

    Dan Bates / The Herald

    Instructor Randy Engel gets the class going by handing the first ball to John Williams on Thursday at the Edmonds Senior Center.

  • Pat Albert, 74, of Edmonds practices juggling smaller balls, this time, by dropping one from each hand simultaneously with the goal of catching them t...

    Dan Bates / The Herald

    Pat Albert, 74, of Edmonds practices juggling smaller balls, this time, by dropping one from each hand simultaneously with the goal of catching them the same way.

  • Liz Windgate, 72, (left) and John Williams, 73, both of Edmonds, attempt to juggle three beach balls by bouncing and tossing them quickly to each othe...

    Dan Bates / The Herald

    Liz Windgate, 72, (left) and John Williams, 73, both of Edmonds, attempt to juggle three beach balls by bouncing and tossing them quickly to each other in a triangular pattern Thursday at the Edmonds Senior Center.

Randy Engel is making a name for himself by teaching older folks how to juggle.
The retired professor of organic chemistry is a regular instructor at Edmonds Senior Center.
Engel, 68, was faced years ago with the possibility of falling victim to a debilitating disease. The prospect prompted him to start exercising.
It worked. He got better.
A teacher by nature, Engel was then inspired to earn his certification as a personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise.
As part of that training, he found out about the mental and physical benefits of learning to juggle, particularly for seniors.
Engel took on that challenge, as well, believing in the adage that people should never leave the playground.
Juggling fits right in with that philosophy, he said.
“It's a fun, relaxing activity that helps with your coordination, your balance and so much more,” Engel said. “I've been delighted at the reception for this class. It's so much fun for me, too.”
His class is geared for those who have no circus experience.
Juggling starts out slow and steady, with students bouncing beach balls back and forth to each other.
People who participate can expect to see improved flexibility, greater upper body strength, reduced anxiety, improved memory and concentration. And they get a nice little cardio workout to boot.
Liz Windgate, 72, of Edmonds is the former web developer for the senior center. She had a car accident several years ago that affected her balance.
“If you can fix your brain, you can do anything,” Windgate said. “Juggling is much more challenging than a lot of other exercises for seniors.”
On Tuesday, Windgate had a great time.
“I have to overcome my fear of letting go of the ball,” Windgate said with a laugh.
Her partner for the morning, John Williams, 73, also of Edmonds, said he had tried juggling when he was young.
“This is great. I really have to concentrate,” said Williams, a retired data processor. “The key is to latch onto the rhythm.”
“It doesn't look like much, but juggling is actually a pretty good aerobic exercise, too.”
Christina Horst drove up from Seattle on her 89th birthday Tuesday to participate.
“I'll try just about anything,” Horst said.
That's what Engel likes to hear.
“I know I will be juggling for the rest of my life,” he said.
Learn to juggle
The current juggling class meets at 10 a.m. Thursdays, through July 3 at the Edmonds Senior Center, 220 Railroad Ave. Cost is $5 a class. Drop-ins are welcome.
For more information, call 425-774-5555 or go to www.edmondssc.org.
To learn more about Randy Engel and juggling, go to www.jugglingdogfitness.com.
Story tags » EdmondsHealthFitnessSenior activitiesSenior issues

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