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Raleigh fitness coach makes exercise accessible to seniors

RALEIGH, N.C. — Whether you step into Jenny McClendon’s fitness class in person or virtually, you’ll be greeted with encouragement and music that will keep you moving. 

While McClendon’s class, Fit Over 50, is targeted for women ages 65 and up, everyone is welcome. 

What You Need To Know

  • Jenny McClendon is a physical therapist and fitness instructor  
  •  Fit Over 50 is an exercise class geared toward the senior community 
  •  The CDC recommends people ages 65 and up to exercise 30 minutes daily to improve their quality of life 
  • McClendon’s classes are posted virtually on her YouTube Channel

McClendon is a physical therapist that began teaching aerobic exercise classes at age 17. 

“I just fell in love with working out and teaching classes and developed into more of a love for helping others,” McClendon said. 

In 2008, she began teaching Fit Over 50 at her church in Raleigh. 

“We incorporate things to improve their balance, things to improve their bone strength, their muscular strength, things that are safe and appropriate,” said McClendon. 

Her in-person classes came to a brief halt when the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered businesses across the country. But her members were still eager to workout. 

In March 2020, McClendon became a household name for seniors across the country when she began posting her fitness videos online. 

“The next thing I knew, it just got millions of views, so it just was really exciting to reach out to people from all over the world, and from there, it just progressed into kind of a full time job and membership group and a way that we’re all connecting,” McClendon said. 

Every Tuesday, McClendon hosts a live-chat and live class on her YouTube channel, Jenny Fit Start, where her members can do live workouts with her from anywhere in the country. She also posts videos that people can access at anytime of the day for free. 

“The idea is we are doing the same type of things that they did when they were younger, but we just have a different emphasis,” McClendon said. 

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention recommend people ages 65 and up to exercise at least 30 minutes daily to help improve their quality of live and continue to live independently. 

“It’s great for beginners, but it’s really great for seniors and I think they feel really safe with me,” said McClendon. 

Lisa Giles has been taking McClendon’s classes since she started teaching in 2008. Giles was diagnosed with osteoporosis, a condition that weakens bones and can cause them to easily fracture. 

“Several years ago, I had a call one evening from my physician and he was very excited because I had a bone density test and it showed improvement over my previous test and that’s very unusual with osteoporosis,” Giles said. 

Giles says her osteoporosis was reduced to a diagnosis of osteopina, a less severe form of the condition. 

“It’s a major part of my life. Lately I have pretty much stayed stable and I really credit to the fact that I’ve continued to work out with Jenny to build the muscle and the bone density,” Giles said. 

McClendon started working with seniors while she was in college. 

“There’s something very inspiring about them and motivating. You know, they say that about me, that I motivate them, but to me it’s the exact opposite,” McClendon said. 

In October, McClendon held a fitness retreat for her members in Italy. She will be holding a fitness Jamboree this April in Wilmington. 

Jenny FitStart members traveled to Italy for a fitness retreat in October 2022.

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