Houston-area woman empowering seniors through exercise with free Zoom classes

This Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting amazing women from the past and present like Olympia Watts, who is one tough and inspirational lady and she is Positively Houston.  

When we read about wonderful women in history, they're the ones making life better in some way and empowering other women around them. Through exercise, Watts is doing just that.

Before the vigorous virtual visits she’s doing now, Exercise Physiologist Olympia Watts was training senior citizens in person in the Health and Human Performance Institute at UH-Clear Lake. Then the pandemic hit.

"When we got shut down, it was very heartbreaking and I felt like I had to do something," says Watts.   


So the in-person meetups made their way to workout sessions in cyberspace.

"We tailor everything to them so through evidence based research we can help them become champions of their lives and take back their strength and better their quality of life," Watts says.

Her Zoom classes are free of charge for older, mostly ladies who often have debilitating illnesses.

"As we start to age we start to lose bone mass. So one of the things we promote is resistance training, so we can avoid and help those members who have osteoporosis," Watts adds. 

This is the first time 67-year-old Luisa Overland has ever stuck with an exercise class.

"I just got hooked," Overland explains. Overland has a hip problem and was hurting almost constantly, until now. "If I don’t do a lot of the flexible exercises, it gets pretty tight and it’s painful," says Overland. 


Strength training is a big part of the class. No weights at home? No problem.

"If you all have canned goods, make sure they’re even, and they weigh the same. You can used canned goods. If you have a gallon of water, we’ll use it with both hands. If you have water bottles, use those," says Watts.

The Monday through Friday fitness forum is also a morning social hour.

"She plays music for us and we love the music. Some of us like dancing in between," explains Overland and there's lots of laughter. "We have an exercise where we squat and throw punches and I say, 'Ok guys I don’t want you to go picking fights now that you're throwing punches’. I keep it lighthearted," smiles Watts.


This positive woman in history is joining many others who are powerful and strong, in more than one way, and yes her guns, her massive arm muscles, are registered.

"That’s the running joke is they’re registered," Watts laughs. 

If you would like to take Olympia’s free workout class for seniors,  email her at humanperformance@uhcl.edu.