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By Chris Frost
Port Hueneme— The Orvene S. Carpenter Community Center was energy central Nov. 1, as Sharon's Sizzling Seniors filled the venue with fun exercise and a sense of community that can't be measured by existing technology.
The group enjoyed an hour of elevated heart rates, camaraderie, and activity without judgment. Everyone is welcome to join in, and the morning took on an electric buzz between the group. The seniors' workout every Monday Wednesday and Friday from 9 until 10 a.m. at the center.
The group is led by Oceanview Pavilion Executive Vice President Sharon Kloeris, who sets the tone for the morning full of spark and inspiration. She just celebrated her 20th anniversary of leading the longest-running senior exercise program in Port Hueneme.
One great success story was Dedra True, who lost 100 pounds and did it while having a blast over 14.5 years with the group.
She called it a part of her routine.
"On the days that I don't go, I feel icky, like ai haven't brushed my teeth or washed the dishes," she said. "It feels awful. Even if I don't want to come, I know I'll feel better when I come to Sharon's Sizzling Seniors."
Tomie Katsuda is getting ready to turn 97, but she still makes sure she doesn't miss exercising.
"I do it for my body," she said. "I don't like to sit still.
Michelle Collaso has lived in Port Hueneme for over 25 years and joined Sharon's Sizzling Seniors two weeks ago because she wants to get in shape.
"The women who are much older than me are in really good shape," she said. "I want to be that lady, still. I was that lady. I want to go back to that."
It was a fun atmosphere that brought her back.
"Everyone is so friendly," she said. "I was a nervous wreck. I am not a coordinated person, but everyone said, take your time and go at your own pace. So what if you look goofy and you're not going the right way. Everyone was sweet. They came up, introduced themselves, gave me tips, and they told me you're not here to be scrutinized."
Myrene Smith has been part of the group for 15 years and started by doing Jazzercise for $45 a month when she lived in Santa Barbara.
"When I moved down here, I looked for a program, and this one is available free of charge," she said. It's a double blessing. I love all the aerobics."
After the workout, she is never tired.
"I am ready for the day after I am done," she said. "I love Sharon. She used to be a Jazzercise instructor, and her routine is similar to mine. She encourages you to follow your own pace, rather than expecting everyone to do the same thing."
After the day, she goes swimming every night.
"I am a retired professor of nursing, so I know the importance of keeping your body in good condition," she said.
Laurie Jordan said the Sizzling Seniors have helped her rehabilitate her wrist, and it makes her feel better every day. She had her wrist operated on and needed to get moving.
"I came and did what I could," she said. "It was 13 months out of my life for physical therapy. I couldn't come for several months because I couldn't dress or brush my hair. Once I came back, I kept moving. That's the main thing. You've got to keep moving."
She loves the social aspect of the program.
"It's not just the physical part, which we all need," she said. "I knew no one when I walked through the door the first time. It was opening the door to meeting wonderful people."
She loves Sharon.
"She is my person," Jordan said. "She motivates everyone in the community, and that is a big thing."
Carolee Winslow from Beach City Neighbors and Newcomers is part of a club that meets once a month and offers fun activities for ladies.
"We have 250 members and have a ton of activity groups," she said. "Sharon's Sizzling Seniors is a fun exercise class."
Robal O'Larte had a severe problem with her back and had to crack it all the time. She doesn't need to now because of the class.
"I've strengthened my core body, and I have only been coming to this class with my husband for 18 months," she said.
She and her husband prefer dancing, but exercising with Sharon made them change their tune.
"Sharon has so much enthusiasm, that my husband and I get up and get here three times a week," O'Larte said. "We make it a priority. I volunteer at the Oceanview Pavilion, and I do storytime on Tuesdays. That's been wonderful for my heart. These are things that I tried to get involved with since I was young, and now I am retired, and I can do all these things. Sharon opens lots of doors."
Newly Elected Port Hueneme City Councilman Rich Rollins loves being part of Sharon's Sizzling Seniors and said it's a great way to meet the community.
"It keeps me in shape and injury-free," he said. "I coach the Santa Clara High School High tennis team. I need to be loose and exercise. It's a great way for the community to talk with me about what concerns them. Before I was elected to the city council, I worked for 35 years in parks and recreation, so I always see the need to keep fit. It keeps your mind and body alive, and it makes your personality better."
Community Services and Recreation Program Manager Anna Hanely said when the Sizzling Seniors are in the building on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, the building explodes with a sense of community.
"It's the lifeblood of this facility," she said. "It's as an individual who makes it tick. She is phenomenal."
She called the energy in the group infectious.
"When I walk through the room to go get something from the kitchen, you can't help but join in the fun," she said with a smile.
At the end of the workout, Kloeris laughed when it was mentioned that she makes coffee seem calm.
"This is who I am," she said. "I am definitely a morning person. I have such a passion for working out. I love working out and being a part of this community. I love being able to motivate and inspire people to come to this class."
Sharon said that people sitting on the sidelines should come down to the center, network, have fun, exercise, and meet new people.
"This is such a friendly environment," she said. "When somebody new comes in, I recognize them and welcome them in and give them a gift."
The Orvene S. Carpenter Community Center is located at 550 Park Avenue in Port Hueneme.