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AARP AARP States Missouri Health & Wellbeing

Get a Fitness Boost With Online Classes in Missouri

Ageless inspiration

Dan Stoeckel, 59, was looking for a way to start exercising after retiring last year from his job at a financial services company. Abby Sydlow, 61, needed a replacement for her gym, which shut down because of COVID-19. Both found what they were after with Moving It!, a new virtual AARP program designed for people of all fitness levels. 

The online classes are free to anyone in Missouri and beyond.

“It’s an excellent workout,” said Sheila Holm, AARP in St. Louis community outreach director, who started the program last October as people struggled to find fitness alternatives to shuttered gyms amid the pandemic.

Already, more than 1,800 people have participated in one or more of AARP Missouri’s Moving It! sessions, with 2,500-plus expected by midsummer. The classes are designed for people 50 and older, but anyone can join. Registration is required. AARP is working with the St. Louis Jewish Community Center for several of the offerings. The program has drawn participants from around the country. 

“We’ve been able to extend our reach to all parts of the state,” Holm said. “We have people from Springfield, Hannibal and the Bootheel. Family members in other states as far away as West Virginia and California have been participating. It’s really cool.”

The home workout advantage

Stoeckel has been taking Moving It! classes since they began, including Strength & Balance, Forever Fit, Tai Chi and Zumba Lite. 

The sessions are engaging, and it’s nice to have an activity scheduled during the week,  said Stoeckel, of Bonne Terre. “Having other people doing it at the same time makes it more of an event, makes it more interesting.” 

Instructors offer variations of the exercises for people of different abilities, added Stoeckel, who sometimes does the workouts with his 24-year-old son.

For Sydlow, of Des Peres, the online classes became her go-to source of exercise after her gym membership was discontinued because of the pandemic.

“The classes have been excellent, and the instructors are right up there with any I’ve paid for,” Sydlow said. “I was concerned it wouldn’t be challenging enough, but that’s not the case at all.”

She also likes being able to take the classes via YouTube  ( if she misses the live events. 

“I’d rather be in the gym, but this is certainly handy, especially when the weather is bad,” she said. “Even when I go back to the gym, I’ll continue to rely on these when I’m not in town.”

Tyler Ferguson, a fitness instructor in Bloomington, Indiana, teaches the Yoga, Strength & Balance and Movement for LIFE classes for the online program. 

“I’ve had to think a lot more creatively about providing this service without equipment,” Ferguson said. Instead of using a standard yoga block, for example, she suggests two dictionaries.

Ferguson, 53, said home workouts have some advantages. People feel less pressure to look like everyone else in the room and are more comfortable with their limitations and only moving in a way that feels safe to them, she said.

“As people age, some convince themselves they can’t move or it’s not important to move,” she said. “I want to empower them to feel safe and strong as they age.”

For more information, and to find a full list of classes with descriptions and times, go to

Timothy Poor is a writer living in Clayton, MO.

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