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Canes: they're not just for walking anymore

November 10, 2008 | 12:06 pm

Canes come in handy, especially when used to emphasize the phrase, "You kids get off my lawn!"

CanefuThey’re being put to better use in a fitness and self-defense class called "Cane Fu Aerobics," available at select Nifty After Fifty fitness centers, which offer individualized and supervised training to the 50-and-over crowd. The class, which evolved out of a regular aerobics class, not only imparts self-defense techniques, but also develops flexibility, strength and balance.

And that's not all: "It provides a level of confidence," says Dr. Sheldon Zinberg, Nifty After Fifty’s founder and a retired gastroenterologist. "It gives them a sense of security."

The half-hour, twice-weekly class begins with some tai chi moves to warm up, segues into Cane Fu training, then concludes with some stretching. The self-defense portion, according to group exercise supervisor Kimmy Wazny, includes breaking choke holds, blocking, and using the cane to swat shins and ankles. Cardiovascular improvements come when drills are done again and again, raising heart rates, and while incorporating such moves as lunges.

The class lasts for eight weeks but can be repeated if desired. Membership in Nifty After Fifty is required, and there’s an extra $5 per class fee. Right now the classes are offered at the Lakewood and Garden Grove gyms, but will soon roll out to the other Nifty After Fifty locations.

Wazny says her students don’t take the class lightly: "You can see the confidence on their faces when they’re breaking a choke hold. They’re not playing around."

Adds Zinberg: "I wouldn’t want to mess with some of these octogenarians."

And neither would we.

-- Jeannine Stein

Photo: Nifty After Fifty