Women gain strength

PAT FRIDGEN
The StrongWomen Program has women lifting weights and doing other exercises twice a week in a group setting. Among those taking the Greencastle class are, from left: Phyllis Knepper, Michele Johnson, Jane Pensinger, Shirley Shatzer, Coleen Walters, Sally Bohn and Marie Myers.

Who says you can't be fit after 40? A program geared for middle-aged to older women arrived in Greencastle this winter. StrongWomen debuted in February with Nancy McGinnis as instructor. Putting research into action, she guides participants through a series of exercises designed to increase their strength, bone density, balance and energy.

McGinnis, 62, a Chambersburg resident, received training through Penn State Cooperative Extension years ago and has taught off and on since then. When the extension office decided to offer the class in one more community, she agreed to teach it. The group meets for an hour Tuesday and Thursday mornings for six weeks at Evangelical Lutheran Church. McGinnis encourages the ladies to get in a third workout over the weekend.

StrongWomen was created by Dr. Miriam Nelson, an associate professor at Tufts University. She spent years researching the impact of strength training and nutrition on the health of women of all ages. From that she developed a particular program for gals over 40.

"It's a very worthwhile program," said McGinnis. "Exercise and nutrition are very important for a person's well-being."

She conducts an assessment on first time participants, and then measures their progress at the end of the term. She has seen women achieve more flexibility, balance and energy.

"The upper body is the hardest for women," she continued. "This really helps them regain that strength."

Equipment includes hand and leg weights. In addition to working out together, McGinnis notices that the women encourage each other and benefit by discussing relevant topics. Over 200 women have participated since the program came to Franklin County several years ago. Many return to take the class again.

Anyone interested in joining the next session of StrongWomen, either in Greencastle or another town, may contact McGinnis at 375-4202 or Extension Educator Mary Ann Oyler at 263-9226 ext. 229. Her e-mail is mko4@psu.edu