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CHILLICOTHE – If you walked past one local fitness studio downtown, you wouldn’t see gym rats pumping iron or seasoned athletes competing with each other. You’d find a group of seniors socializing and supporting each other while working on their personal growth.

In 2009, William Molebash saw his 50th year approaching. He started to think about his lifestyle and worked on ways to become healthier by competing in half marathons and joining a gym. It was then that he noticed the older generation needed a place to go where they weren’t intimidated by fitness fanatics. 

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Medicine balls are a key element to one of William Molebash’s circuit training courses at old Bones Fitness Studio. (Photo: Robert McGraw/Gazette)

Molebash decided to start studying to become a personal trainer in 2015 and in 2017, he received his certificate. After, he opened the Old Bones Fitness Studio — a gym dedicated to the fitness needs of people 55 and older.

“It’s a place where people of the same age and goals can come together to socialize and work out,” Molebash said. “It isn’t competitive, they all support each other.”

The fitness studio started in October 2017 in a spare room of a bank. Five months later, Molebash moved to his current location at 74 West Water St., after he saw how the gym was growing he realized he needed more space for members.

Molebash said that opening his own gym was nerve-wracking. It required a lot of schooling, certificates, LLC registration and paperwork to create waiver forms and membership agreements. Molebash also purchased all of the equipment up front.

Workouts at the Old Bones Fitness Studio are based on reps over time, not weight. Molebash offers two classes that members can partake in Monday through Saturday. There’s a chair circuit program that lasts 40 minutes and a ball circuit that’s 30. Exercises last for one minute each and include both sitting and standing activities like arm circles, leg curls, ankle raises and wrist flexing. Workouts with the ball work on every joint in the body.

The programs are designed to increase stability, flexibility and strength. Molebash said that the use it or lose it mentality is especially true when it comes to seniors.

Often, older people can develop degenerative changes as a result of aging. In severe cases, an individual can develop bone on bone pain which is a result of cartilage wearing away. While Molebash can’t replace the cartilage he can help gym members strengthen their joints and maintain bone health.

Even Molebash’s mother attends his classes. She’s had three shoulder replacements and he watched her struggle to get back to her daily routine after physical therapy and surgeries. Other members have had multiple procedures like hip and knee replacements where the nonstrenuous activities allow members to build up strength and mobility over time.

“Exercise strengthens you and your joints,” Molebash said. “I’m just trying to help people keep their independence.”

Each class often has 12-15 people in it but Molebash has room to grow. Everything he needs for a class is stored on his phone. The phone is connected to a screen that displays the time remaining, the exercise and how much longer is left. Molebash said it’s a great way for members to follow along and keep track of what they’re doing.

While the Old Bones Fitness Studio is unique because of its clientele and Molebash wanted to make sure the average retiree could afford a membership. For the past few months, Molebash has been working to become a SilverSneakers certified instructor and is now finishing the paperwork for the venue. The program grants coverage to those with Medicare Advantage plans to go to certified gyms at no cost.

For those without Medicare, Molebash offers unlimited monthly memberships and pro-rated partial memberships. Chair class memberships cost $15 and ball classes are $30. Individuals can also pay $5 if they choose to drop in for either class. Your first class at the studio is free.

“It’s been a blast,” said Molebash.

Despite the gym being geared towards seniors, Molebash said all are welcome. However, individuals must understand that the studio is catered to the seniors and their workouts aren’t for someone who’s looking to bulk up. 

Molebash is the only instructor and employee at his studio but a Zumba class with its own instructors regularly comes in. He says the members love it.

Classes at the Old Bones Fitness Studio meet Monday through Saturday. Chair circuits meet at 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The ball circuit is at 5:30 p.m. Monday thru Friday and at 9 a.m. on Saturdays. For more information visit the Old Bones Fitness website www.oldbonesfitness.com or call 740-804-3061.

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