There are senior exercise classes all across Howard County, an ever-increasing number catering to an ever-increasing population.
But then there is Susan Kain's seated exercise class, held two days a week at the Glenwood Senior Center Plus in Cooksville.
This class doesn't just have seniors. This class has a half-dozen participants 90 years old or older — and a seventh who will turn 90 in a few months.
County Office on Aging officials said they did not know of any other classes with so many 90-plus participants, and Kain, who has taught exercise classes for seniors for 20 years, said this was a first for her.
"It's very unusual," she said. "I've never had this many before."
But the unusually large number of unusually old participants does not keep this class from being lively. In a sense, the opposite is true.
"Do I feel young with this group? My goodness, yes," joked 89-year-old Albert Byron before a recent class — a comment that drew immediate laughs and a rebuke from a couple of his older classmates.
"His pacemaker gets to going so fast sometimes he has to stop and rest," said Bob Frothingham, 93.
The "ever witty" Frothingham, as Kain refers to him, is something of the court jester of the group. But he's just one of the many animated men and women who make the class, which meets Tuesdays and Thursdays, as much a social club as an exercise class.
"For some of these men and women, this is about the only time they see other people their age," Kain said. "The social aspect here is very important."
The half-dozen 90-plus participants in Kain's class all live in Howard County and none live in assisted living facilities. But besides that, they are a varied lot. They include:
• Martha Brendel, 97, a lifelong farmer in Howard County who still lives on the Woodbine farm now run by her sons and whose baked goods regularly won prizes at the Howard County Fair.
"I miss baking now," she said. "I can't stand up to do it."
• Warren Sargent, 95, of Glenwood, a retired architect who designed the Glenwood Fire Station and piloted his own airplane — which he built himself — until he was 90.
"I gave it up, but I still drive a car," he said.
• Frothingham, who lives on Happy Hills Farm in Sykesville. The retired accountant fought in the Pacific Theater in World War II and has made over 300 parachute jumps, the last at age 80.
"If I live to be 95, I'm going to make another one," he said. "And it's beginning to look pretty good. I only have one-and-a-half years to go."
• Jim Walker, 93, of Glenwood, a retired engineer who also fought in the Pacific during World War II, and was piloting his own airplane until he was 85.
"I miss it," he said. "I miss all the things I used to do."
• Irene Peters, 92, who has lived in Howard County since she was 15, first in Columbia, now in Woodbine.