Editor’s Note: This is part of an occasional series on where to get fit in Schuylkill County.
TThe Schuylkill Snowshoe Family Sports and Fitness Center is the most unusually decorated gymnasium I have ever been to.
In the lobby, an animal head and a colorless Yuengling neon sign are mounted on wood-paneled walls. Exercise equipment includes an “Arctic Thunder” arcade game and a claw machine – also paneled – filled with stuffed animals.
Renee Delong, who has owned the Orwigsburg business since 1986, told me it was founded as a tennis club in 1975. The sign on the large barn-shaped building still reads “TENNIS RACQUETBALL COCKTAIL LOUNGE ”. When Delong became the owner, she transformed the building into a sports and fitness center for families.
“Physical activity and exercise are important for everyone,” said Delong. “It is important for children, adolescents and adults of all ages.”
Because of this, the fitness center has been offering exercise classes for seniors for so long, Delong can’t remember when they started. The class was once called “50 and Fabulous”, but is now called “SilverSneakers”.
In a dimly lit gym, a dozen of what instructor Amy Farr calls “Schuylkill County’s super seniors” train for the old – wait, not the old, said Farr, the classics. The room is lined with mirrors, creating the illusion of an endless line of pink sweaters and flannel shirts passing to “Chantilly Lace”, tipping into oblivion.
“OK, mambo right,” Farr said. “Mambo is gone. Cha cha cha. Everyone hit the note!
“Ooh !,” shouts the “silver and fit generation,” another company name Farr has for them.
“They become your fitness family,” she says. “Before the pandemic, once a month we would potluck and celebrate their birthdays.”
During the pandemic, Farr continued to have classes online. When the gyms reopened, the grand reopening of Silver Sneakers was the busiest class in fitness center history – although only 21 of them could be in the classroom due to distance requirements. social.
“My mom is on dialysis and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to come back,” Farr said, “but I trusted my boss.”
Farr taught the senior class for 30 years and educated generations of seniors, including Phil Orwig, who also happens to be the great-great-grandson of Orwigsburg founder Peter Orwig.
“For me it’s beneficial physically and mentally, because I live alone,” said Orwig, 88, gripping a purple chair with blue-veined hands in latex gloves. “And I come here and there’s a good group of people, we’re talking. Seventy-five percent of my life I am alone.
Orwig takes lessons with his nearly 70-year-old friend.
“And here they work together in their 50s,” Farr joked.
The two men were drafted into the military and first met on a bus to the Hazleton Induction Center on March 3, 1953. They were shipped to Germany and went their separate ways, but after their return they moved on. 20 years in the Army Reserves together and have been friends ever since. Since joining the fitness center in 2018 to cure his atrial fibrillation, Orwig has made a new friend in Farr.
“She is one of the most beautiful ladies you will ever meet,” he says. “I don’t care where you go. She treats everyone in class the same; we are a family. She’s the nicest lady in the area.
When one of her students is sick, she calls them and checks them.
Farr, who said she and Orwig were “best friends,” is modest.
“Phil, I already have your money!” she joked.
Although she is aimed at seniors, all ages and skill levels are welcome in her class. Farr said the class has an “alliance”: do what makes you comfortable, even if you’re the only one doing it.
For more information on other courses offered at Schuylkill Racquet Family Sports and Fitness Center, visit www.familyfitnesscenter.org.