City Parks Foundation announces return of free sports programs for seniors in Queens

The City Parks Foundation is expanding its popular senior fitness program to Rockaway for the first time this spring. (Photo by Sean J. Rhinehart)

For the first time since 2019, free in-person sports programming for seniors has returned at regular capacity, with spring sign-ups now available, courtesy of the City Parks Foundation (CPF). Among the sports available for seniors are tennis at PO Edward Byrne Park; fitness walking at Beach 30th Street Park in Rockaway and Phil “Scooter” Rizzuto Park in South Richmond Hill; and yoga at Phil “Scooter” Rizzuto Park.

As of May 11, the CPF has 130 seniors participating in these events across Queens. This program has been helping to keep seniors in shape for over 15 years. Additionally, the nonprofit organization has begun making pickleball available for seniors in Brooklyn, with intentions to expand across the other New York City boroughs in the near future.

While CPF was able to provide seniors with yoga classes via Zoom throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there were still too many who were left less mobile and vulnerable to falls since they didn’t have as many outlets for exercise. It wasn’t until fall 2021 that in-person events returned, but numbers were limited in order to meet New York state guidelines.

According to CPF Director of Sports Mike Silverman, it’s great to have everyone returning to the parks for exercise. He emphasized the importance that CPF’s sports programs play for both kids and senior citizens, helping to keep both in shape and get outside.

“We’re so happy to be able to offer these programs again,” Silverman said. “It’s extremely important that we get as many New Yorkers out and active again. There’s already a high demand for them and we expect the spring class registrations to really fill up by the end of May.”

Silverman describes himself as one of the first employees of CPF. In the early days of his work with the organization, he oversaw the rapid growth of the tennis program, which had previously been negatively affected by budget cuts in the 1980s. Under Silverman’s leadership, CPF has been able to create several free programs for all ages, including golf, track and field, soccer and tennis.

While there are so many sports programs and events to schedule across the parks in Queens, CPF attempts to keep as many of their senior activities as possible at the same parks in order to make it easier for them to exercise. Another way CPF is attempting to keep seniors safe is by only holding their outdoor senior exercise programs during the spring and fall, as it may not be safe for them to do so much running in the hot summer weather.

Each program event takes place twice a week. The schedules, locations and registrations can all be found on CPF’s website. Registration for fall 2022 classes is expected to become available by mid to late August.

While CPF has focused on following current state protocols in preparing their programs, they still try to keep a reasonable distance between participants in certain events, such as yoga.