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By Chris Frost
Port Hueneme-- The sun was shining, the energy was high, and Sharon's Sizzlin Seniors took their exercise outside and continued providing positive energy during the Covid-19 restrictions.
The group's backbone remains the same-- the seniors enjoyed high energy and motivation during their workout, took a break when needed, and at the end of the session, the enthusiastic bunch were ready to tackle everything.
Sparkplug and leader Sharon Kloeris can't believe the great direction the group has taken since the pandemic hit.
"I would have never thought that in a million years that we would have been hit by Covid-19," she said. "I was told March 12, 2020, that all the students should bring their mats. I told everyone that on Friday, we should bring our own mats. Friday came, and we had to close down."
Sharon and her group were devastated, didn't know where to go, what to do, and which way to turn.
"After about two months, I got with my students, some of them through email and texting, and they said we want to come back," she said. "I said the best way for you to do it is to rally the city council. Write to the city council and city manager and tell them what you want and what you miss. To me, when Covid-19 hit, the most important thing to do is stay active and take care of your health and immune system by exercising."
The challenge was simple, she said, how can we pivot into another arena, still workout, but in a safe way?
"The city manager contacted me and said yes, Sharon, you can open your class," she said. "You have to teach under these certain protocols, which is fine."
That was simple, she said; attendees signed a waiver when they arrived, brought their water, and they couldn't go down to the floor.
"I said okay, I'll take it," she said. "I'll start doing a 45-minute class, and everyone was elated about it. We started on July 6, and it's now March 26. We've gone through four seasons."
Her first challenge was the fact they were all outside.
"We were social distancing, six feet apart, and I was in a football field," she said. "Are they going to hear my music? That was one of the obstacles, and it worked out beautifully."
The other obstacle was working out on the asphalt, and the group wasn't used to working out on the asphalt.
"Then, of course, the weather and being in Port Hueneme, the weather is exceptional," she said. "I've only had to cancel class four times, and that was because twice it was raining, and twice because the wind was blowing 20 miles per hour. My class knows that if it's sunny and 49 degrees outside, we're going to work out."
She called Port Hueneme a progressive city.
"My seniors spoke and told the council what they need, what they want, and why," she said. "They listen to the seniors, so the City of Port Hueneme thrives on providing the senior community with the tools they need to improve their lives, including their safety, well-being, and fitness."
Sharon's been teaching the class for over 20 years, and she never thought the class would be outside.
"It's awesome," she said. "We've got the blue sky surrounding us. We've got the blue sky, the clean air, and it's a win-win all the way around."
Elaine Shavhaghi loves coming to the class.
"It's the best thing I do for myself three days a week," she said. "Sharon saved my life. I've been coming for over five years, and I wouldn't miss it for the world. I like outside. I like the fresh air and being out here in the sun."
She struggles with balancing.
"I have a bad right leg," she said. "Anytime I have to stand on my right leg and do my kicks, that's hard for me."
Dedra True likes both indoors and outdoors.
"They both have advantages and disadvantages," she said. "The one thing I miss about going inside is getting down on the matt. That was like the only time we could sit down in the class, and it was like a huge relief. You can fake abs easily."
Dedra has been coming to class for 16 years.
"Sharon's the inspiration for this class," she said. "She's this ball of energy that nobody can match. She inspires everyone here to come, workout, and stay flexible. She's the greatest."
Port Hueneme Mayor Pro Tem Rich Rollins said during Covid-19, it's vital for people to stay active.
"It not only improves their physical health, but it also improves their mental health," he said. "It gives them a chance to get out, exercise, socialize with people, stay fit, and I think it gives you a positive mental attitude. My field before I moved to Port Hueneme was in parks and recreation, so I'm a zealot for the need for physical fitness and stimulating the mind through recreational activities. We're updating this facility and parks and getting them in shape."
He too likes Sharon's outdoor class.
"I like the sun and open-air," he said.
Linda Klein loves the outdoor version of the sizzling seniors.
"The air is nice and fresh, the sun, we get Vitamin D, and sometimes we get little groundhogs that jump up, or ducks walk by, or birds flew over, and we love it," she said. "This class is wonderful because we get to see all our friends. We're wearing masks; we're happy to see each other, the socialization is so important, and the exercise gives us endorphins, so we're happy."
Linda sells Mary Kay cosmetics, and she said her class has been highly supportive, and she earned a brand new pink Cadillac.
"It will be delivered in April," she said. "That's the signature Mark Kay branding, the car, that you earn when you're a top producer. My customers have stayed with me, and because of Covid-19, we're doing everything on Zoom."
The Sizzlin Seniors workout at 550 Park Avenue in Port Hueneme on the facility's patio. Class is held every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, from 9 until 10 a.m., behind Orvene S. Carpenter Community Center,