07/08/2013 07:18 pm ET Updated Sep 07, 2013

Getting Physical, Geriatric Style

For the past month I've been in Australia where I've had the honor of looking after my darling, aging mum. In an effort to keep her social and supple, I've taken her to a couple of geriatric exercise classes where all walkers are abandoned, best clothes are donned, and comments are rampant.

Armchairs are set up in a semi-circle with the instructor sitting front and center of the group. This past week, one of the male students parked his mobility walker next to her and proceeded to chastise those who came to the class a little late. He'd yell out phrases like, "where's your note, missy?" This comment was not answered in words from missy, but with a thumb on the nose and wagging finger treatment. I wondered if there was something going on between the two old dears. Was this geriatric flirting?

There are no iPods or ear-buds in these classes, just a CD player softly filling the room with big band swing. These sassy seniors are a groovin' group, doing favorite moves like, polishing the table, polishing the doorknob, or the breaststroke. That last one had me worried for a split second, until I looked around at my fellow work-out junkies and saw them all sitting in their chairs concentrating on their in-breaths. Their feet were planted firmly on the ground, pushing their arms straight out in front of them, then out to the side and down. Repeat five times.

They all gave a little moan when asked to do the push-up. I waited with bated breath to see what the heck this would entail. Actually, I waited, and waited, and waited for them to get moving. The idea of the push-up is to lay your hands flat on either side of the arms of your chair, and push-up to a standing position. A few of the boys were moaning about this move being a real killer.

I asked, Maud, perhaps the fittest one in the class, at ninety-seven years of age, what she felt about living in the retirement home. She smiled up at me and said, "Well, life is what you make of it. You can either choose to stay in your room all day and complain and be miserable, or you can come out and play. I choose to play."