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Town of North Hempstead Begins Virtual Fitness Program

Seniors with webcams and Skype can exercise virtually alongside an instructor.

A half dozen seniors exercised from the comfort of their homes virtually alongside  fitness instructor Mike Mancini in the 's inaugural virtual fitness program on Thursday.

The program uses webcams and Skype to have each participant watch the instructor and it also allows participants to communicate with each other. Great Neck South High School senior David Campbell helped set up and explain the technology needed for this program to the seniors.

Mancini lead the group from Town Hall in exercises that were being done in a chair; despite some minor technical difficulties, the exercises were completed and Sheldon and Hazel Pachtman of New Hyde Park enjoyed them.

After the program was completed, Pachtman said she would like this program to be carried on twice a week instead of the once a week that it is currently slotted for. She characterized the exercises as "not difficult" and "helpful" and thought Mancini was a "nice, kind person."

Town Supervisor noted that this is part of the Town's efforts to keep its residents "aging in place" and noted that there's not only the physical component of this program but also the social one too of people chatting with each other. He could see this technology being used in other ways in the future.

Commissioner of the Department of Services for the Aging Evelyn Roth says she sees many more applications using this kind of technology and service provided that this initial fitness program works. One example of a potential future program is a bereavement group that could be held via webcam and Skype for people who can't get out of their houses. If after eight weeks the fitness program is going well, then Roth says another similar program could be set up relatively quickly.

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