Shirley Hall has been teaching senior fitness classes at various sites in Oregon City for more than 20 years, and recently decided she wanted to branch out and try a new venue.

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Members of the cross-training class at Abernethy Performing Arts surround instructor Shirley Hall, center, with arms outstretched.So when she was offered a space at Oregon City’s Abernethy Performing Arts on Beavercreek Road near Red Soils, she jumped at the chance to teach two senior classes.

She specializes in senior fitness, “because there is such a need for it. We have an aging Baby Boomer population. I know because I am one of them, and we are living longer and want to stay healthy.”

Keith Walls, the founder of Abernethy Performing Arts, a performing arts studio specializing in dance, musical theater and voice, said he was happy to open up one of his studios for the senior fitness classes.

“I had the space available, and this is a good group of people. I wanted to build awareness that this is another site for senior classes,” he said.

Walls added that he and Hall wanted to make sure that people could drop in for classes when they wanted, and they also set a goal to keep the price reasonable. Students can pay per class or $20 per month, he said.

Senior fitness

Classes for seniors are offered other places in Oregon City, but many of them are at capacity — some with 10 or more people on the waiting list — or are taught by younger people who don’t relate well to older students, Hall said,

So she is excited to start new two classes, with plenty of room in each. The facility at Abernethy Performing Arts has a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere, Hall said.

She is teaching a cross-training class, with segments dedicated to stretching and warm-ups, cardio and weight training. The class runs from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Wednesdays, and is an ongoing class that people 55 and older can join at any time.

Hall will offer a yoga/Pilates blend class, from 10:45 to 11:45 a.m. starting Wednesday, April 2, and is hoping to draw a sizable group to that class as well.

“It will be a whole hour of yoga and Pilates; no weights, no cardio,” Hall said.

Many of her students are active outside of class, paddling dragon boats, hiking, walking, horseback riding and gardening, but her goal is to keep them doing what they want.

“My focus here is on seniors; I want them to be able to keep picking up their grandkids,” she said.

Helping people

Hall’s students often make real friendships in her classes; she tries to keep each class fun and interesting and plays a variety of music.

“She knows what we can and can’t do, and she knows we have issues with hips and backs. As long as we keep our feet moving, she smiles at us,” said Sigrid Hart, who has taken classes from Hall for two years.

“Her classes are very eclectic. They are always changing, always different and always challenging. We have a couple of ladies who are in their 80s, and most of us are in our 70s, but Shirley doesn’t care how old we are,” Hart said, adding, “the exercises that we do in class use muscles that you don’t use in your everyday life.”

Mona Kalani, another student, has some back issues and was surprised when she first came to Hall’s class and discovered that the exercises were similar to what she had been doing in physical therapy.

“She keeps us moving, and she works with us on balance,” Kalani said.

Hall said she really enjoys meeting people and gets good feedback from her students.

“They tell me my class really helped them,” she said. “I understand seniors, and I understand their limitations. I want to keep them active with stretching, flexibility, strength training, balance and cardio so they won’t get arthritis or tendonitis.”


To register for either of the two senior classes, call Keith Walls at 503-705-3719.

The yoga/Pilates class starts at 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, April 2; the cross-training class, at 9:30 a.m. Wednesdays, is ongoing.

For more information about Abernethy Performing Arts, at 275 Beavercreek Road, Suite A-108, Oregon City, visit

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