By Martha Thorn

“What do you want to do when you grow up?” Are you age 55 or over, just retired and thinking about reinventing yourself?

You may want to check out the Annapolis Senior Activity Center. The center offers a plethora of activities, and membership is free. What’s more, the membership card can be used at any of seven senior centers operated by the Anne Arundel County Department of Aging and Disabilities.

I was first introduced to the Annapolis Senior Activity Center several years ago at a Christmas party for the Striders, a local running group. One of the runners was a senior center member. She filled me in on just what I was missing.

The center offers classes, trips, parties, games, concerts and other opportunities to socialize and work out. (In August 2009, I joined the center and was introduced to the classes that started in October and ran through December.)

Anne Arundel Community College offers countless classes through the senior centers in languages such as French and Spanish; exercise classes like yoga, Pilates, aerobics, weights and tai chi; art classes such as watercolors, painting, drawing, and pottery; music-related classes including opera appreciation and music fundamentals; and dancing, including how to line dance, belly dance or tap dance. There were also history classes, computer classes and courses for keeping the mind active.

And to add frosting to the cake, the senior center’s offerings include beginning Chinese language and poetry, chair exercises, knitting, open table tennis, duplicate bridge, Scrabble and additional courses for keeping the mind active.

Once enrolled in the classes, I learned about even more center opportunities. Other seniors would ask, “Did you go on this trip or that trip?” They talked about shopping at Wal-Mart, eating at local and not-so-local restaurants, visiting museums, attending concerts and even going on cruises. Some seniors look forward to riding in hot air balloons at balloon festivals. From options ranging from visiting London or Yellowstone National Park, visiting ranches or going out to dinner theaters, nothing seems too far away or out of reach.

The seniors also love to party, play games and attend concerts at the center. In addition to celebrating major events like Halloween, Christmas and New Year’s, they have island parties, crab feasts, line dance parties and ice cream socials. They play bingo, bridge, mah-jongg, Scrabble, pool and table tennis and worked jigsaw puzzles. They enjoy the performances of entertainers who range from a magician to musicians and singers of country western hits, rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, gospel and blues.

Some people use the fitness room. Others attend workshops that covered a wide range of topics, including clutter, reverse mortgages, making wills and making centerpieces. For many, the senior center has become a home away from home. It’s a place they can volunteer, eat lunch, buy snacks and books and while away the hours with friends.

For many retirees looking for a new way of life, the Annapolis Senior Activity Center is a great place to start. Find out more by visiting the center at 119 South Villa Ave., Annapolis, or by calling 410 222-1818. They can also be reached by e-mailing at [email protected] or going to the Web at

Martha can be reached at [email protected]

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