Exercise can, of course, make you feel better, but when not feeling your best makes exercise difficult, it becomes a hard cycle to break. But with new chair-based classes at the Kern County Museum, anyone of any ability can join in on the action.

The museum is starting a five-week course on chair Zumba and chair yoga, meeting every Tuesday and Thursday starting next week. Led by Deb McCormack, guests with limited mobility can get moving in a safe, easy and accessible way.

"It's a non-intimidating environment perfect for people who want to get active again but can't necessarily go to the floor," said Nicole Bolinger, who handles community engagement at the museum. "Anybody can come but it is designed for people who don't have the best mobility."

The course includes both classes twice a week and costs $25 for members of the Kern County Museum and $50 for nonmembers, with all proceeds going to the museum. Each day of the course, chair Zumba will be held at 7:30 a.m. and chair yoga will be held at 8 a.m., both in the museum's Standard School.

The chair sessions came about thanks to the relationship that McCormack has developed with the museum from other events. This course is the first time she has done chair exercises at the museum, but McCormack has done other yoga sessions there.

"We thought it would be a good way to reach out to the community," Bolinger said. "Gyms can be intimidating. But here, it's at a museum."

Participants might be exercising from the stability of a chair, but that doesn't mean they won't be working out. In yoga, they can expect lots of stretching arm movements, like a modified version of the proud warrior pose.

"Anybody can do it," Bolinger said. "I actually did it the other morning and got a good stretch."

The Zumba classes, on the other hand, are designed to get heart rates up while sitting down.

McCormack has 30 years of experience in fitness and is good at making people feel comfortable, Bolinger said.

"As a person, she's a little more reserved but when she gets teaching, she's outgoing, she's smiling," Bolinger said of McCormack. "She's the perfect person for an event like this."

Bolinger said the museum team was happy to work with McCormack on a special course like these chair exercise classes.

"With her skills and our reach, we thought it would be a good collaboration to help Kern County get a little healthier," she said.

For the moment, this five-week course is the only chance to do chair exercises at the museum, but Bolinger said if it goes well, it could become an ongoing program there.

"From the feedback we're getting, we would love for it to be a regular event," she said.

There is no deadline to enroll but space is limited so Bolinger encouraged anyone interested to sign up now. 

Bolinger said she knows doctors everywhere want their patients to exercise more and that chair exercises are a good way for people to get their feet wet while still keeping those feet firmly on the floor.

"We hope they develop a healthier lifestyle, make some friends and, if they like coming to the museum," she said, "maybe they come more often."

Kelly Ardis can be reached at 661-395-7660. Follow her on Twitter at @TBCKellyArdis.

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