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Founders fitness fanatics

The pre-dawn registration crowd at Founders Hall included, from left, Bill Osgood, Chris Mueller and his wife, Marion, and on the bench are Adriana Ippoliti Zandri and Darla Shaw. —Ben Shaw photo

No, they are not standing in line at dawn for the latest in iPhone.

The early birds are there for the yearly senior citizen fitness registration at Founder’s Hall. On the third Tuesday of each October, this unusual phenomena takes place. Senior citizens begin lining up at 5:30 a.m. to register for one of 15 fitness classes offered during the year.

These physically fit seniors are dedicated to exercising in their own personal way. They want to register for classes in aerobics, aquacize, core/pilates, strength and balance, stretch and flex, Tai Chi, yoga and relaxation, and seated yoga.

According to Grace Weber, director of Founder’s Hall, “Over 240 members of Founder’s Hall are actively involved in fitness programs and many of them do not just take one course, but several. In 2005 our fitness programs became so popular we needed to change our way of registering. To make places for newcomers as well as the old, we started the more equitable, once a year registration day, at that time.”

First in line for registration was Adriana Zandri.

“I have been taking the aerobics class for 10 years and I love it. I’m a morning person so I get here early with my paper and pencil to start the number system going for Grace.”

Next in line was Bill Osgood who was standing in for his wife, who is not a morning person. “There is only one section of aquacize so someone in the family has to be here early. I just bring a good book and a lantern to read by.”

Third in line was Chris Mueller and his wife, Marion. Mr. Mueller came along only to get breakfast for his wife so she could also get into aquacize.   “I am also signing up for an 88-year-old woman who would have trouble getting here,” Mrs. Mueller said. “We can register for one other person, but if we want to take a second fitness class, we need to go back through the line a second time.”

By 6:30 a.m. Grace Weber has opened the door and has coffee and bagels ready for everyone. By 8:29 a.m. everyone has a number and every room at Founder’s Hall is packed with friends meeting friends, waiting for their turn at the registration table in the lecture room.

“People don’t really have to get here at 5:30 a.m. to get into our fitness classes, but they should be here by 8:30 a.m. when the registration begins,” explained Ms. Weber. “With many seniors, however, the early morning wait with hot coffee, warm coats, newspapers, flashlights and lanterns has become a seven-year ritual that is hard to break.”

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