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Boomers Step Out of Their Comfort Zone: Boomers Redefine Retirement

The baby boomer generation has continually pushed the envelope to create great events in history. Boomers should be willing to step out of their comfort zone during retirement to find new adventures.

Stepping out of one’s comfort zone could be as exotic as traveling to faraway places or as close to home as taking a dance class. There are people who start stepping out by building a bucket list of items they want to do before they kick the bucket. This article (the fourth in our "Boomers Redefine Retirement" series) takes a look at several opportunities to step out.

The 2007 movie The Bucket List, co-starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, was about building and living a bucket list of items to do before the end of life. People have responded to that movie by creating their own bucket lists starting in mid-life versus end of life.

While exercising and staying physically active may not have been at the top of the to-do list for boomers working 50 or 60 hours a week, retirement may be the time to start. The offers all types of low-impact, high-impact, water and other types of exercise activities.

“We have 60- to 65-year-olds in every class we have including the high intensity," YMCA associate executive director Debbie Goldthorpe said. “The big question is what is the right program based on the medical history and fitness level.”

Creating a life history book using online publishers such as Shutterfly.com  or Blurb.com is a project that will require writing, selecting and then scanning or taking new digital photos and arranging them in a book. Both of these websites offer the ability to create hardback or paperback books in several different sizes. Completing this type of project could take more than a year, but it will become a keepsake for children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Volunteering is one of those activities that many wish they could find more time to do while working full time. Once becoming retired or partly retired, boomers can find volunteering opportunities of all kinds all over town.  One such organization is the Friends of the to help deliver books and DVDs to housebound residents or helping with book fairs.

“Our volunteers have driven thousands of miles over the years helping to get books to people in our community,” said Jane Pieper, president of Friends of the Library.

in North Canton also needs volunteers to help with exhibit receptions and to help manage the exhibits. Others may want to help those in nursing homes.

“We offer many volunteer opportunities,” said Matt Reed from the Area Agency on Aging. “Our volunteers are the boots-on-the-ground people who go into nursing homes or into homes of housebound residents to help.”

Another option is getting involved with community groups such as the one that meets informally at the .

“There is a morning news group that meets the second Friday of every month around 10 a.m.,” Library Director Sandi Lang said. “The group uses a whiteboard for their meetings and they try to keep the conversation balanced. We also have several book discussion groups that meet here. Plus we offer all kinds of classes for boomers and others to explore new hobbies, such as container gardening classes.”

Learning to dance at the on Main Street in North Canton may be the needed prescription to step outside of the comfort zone.

“Approximately 50 percent of our clients are from the baby boomer generation,” said Jerry Satava, co-owner of Fred Astaire. Satava co-owns the franchise with his wife, Jenny-Lee Satava.

The dance studio teaches classes for the dances shown on the Dancing with the Stars TV show. Their students take lessons for competition,  social events such as weddings, and for the exercise factor.

“We see a lot of baby boomers that are now empty-nesters and want to reconnect with their spouses,” Satava said. “Our students start with a basic four-week introduction package and then we customize classes to their needs after the initial four weeks. I call it the 'life enhancement package.'”

Last item in this list, albeit certainly not the last of the actual list of activities, is going back to school to learn a new skill for possibly starting on a new profession or for recreational purposes. On the hobby side of learning, there are pottery, gardening, computer, foreign language courses and the list goes on. The many colleges and universities around Stark County as well as the library and Stark Parks offer numerous classes for boomers.

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