Calgary seniors practise “Cane Fu” in world-record bid
By Clara Ho, Calgary Herald September 10, 2012
Silvera for Seniors resident Hui Leong, 87, participates in Cane Fu at the Silvera for Seniors’ Aspen Community in Bridgeland on Sunday.
Photograph by: Colleen De Neve , Calgary Herald
They may not have his fists of fury or his fighting prowess, but they are channelling kung fu legend Bruce Lee in a bid to improve their health and set a world record.
More than 270 Calgary seniors, joined by their children and grandchildren, gathered at the Silvera for Seniors Aspen Lodge for a half-hour of “Cane Fu,” using canes and breathing exercises to simulate techniques from the martial art popularized by Lee.
The hope is to make it into the Guinness World Record book for the most people engaged in a chair-based exercise for 30 minutes.
Seated in chairs or wheelchairs, participants moved canes or wooden rods in swooping motions, above their heads and around their bodies, to build flexibility, all the while practising breathing exercises.
And after half an hour, it was enough for even the more able-bodied volunteers to work up a sweat.
Hazel Gehring, the oldest participant, who turns 98 next month, said the exercise was “tiring” but she enjoyed the enthusiasm the instructors brought.
“It was an experience,” said Gehring, whose daughter, Janet Gehring, also participated in the half-hour session.
Gehring, an eight-year resident of Aspen Lodge, said she stays active with daily exercise classes and walks around the residence.
Another senior, 93-year-old Sybil Levigne, said Sunday’s activities “felt all right” on the body. But her favoured workout is still to waltz the night away, she said, gesturing at her “sore feet.”
Martial arts instructor Rod Coulter, who led Sunday’s session, said these exercises are possible even for seniors with limited mobility, and help build strength and improve circulation.
In fact, seniors who have been participating in Shawnessy’s Cane Fu pilot program have reported feeling healthier since taking the class, said Silvera for Seniors CEO Arlene Adamson.
“They are stronger, standing taller, using their walkers much less,” she said, adding she hopes to bring the program to Silvera’s other seniors’ lodges.
An event like this also helps show that seniors aren’t just fading in the background, but enjoy taking part in fun activities and want to live full and healthy lives, Adamson said.
Getting Sunday’s 30-minute Cane Fu exercise session into the record books would simply be icing on the cake.
“Seniors, at no matter what age, have big dreams, want to participate, want to do something fun,” she said. “This is one of their goals.”