You absolutely do not call Southminster, or any of the expanding communities like it in Charlotte, is an “old folks’ home.” “Our residents don’t see themselves living in a nursing home or assisted living,” says Stewart Wiley, director of sales and marketing for Southminster, which occupies 27 acres near Quail Hollow Club. “This generation of senior adults is not like prior generations. They act and dress younger, they view themselves as younger, and they’re much more active.” As the class emerges from their savasana, Carol stands up, brings her hands to heart center, and signals the end of class with a “namaste.” In the back row, someone says, “Is it time for drinks?” Another replies, “Lola’s doesn’t open ’til four!”
ON THURSDAY MORNINGS around 10:30, the entrance of Southminster’s wellness center buzzes with chatter. Twenty residents gather outside the aerobics room, gabbing about grandchildren and upcoming trips to Florida, until Carol Arnold opens the doors and ushers everyone in. The 79-year-old sets up chairs and yoga mats, and she moves with the ease of someone half her age. “Did everybody notice Sue’s new shirt?” she says as she pulls out her iPhone to and her playlist. “It’s so stylish!” The class consists mostly of women. But a man stands in the front row, on the mat closest to the window: Tom, Carol’s husband of eight months. “Tom has a bit of stage fright,” Carol says with a grin. As the ambient music kicks on, she closes her eyes and takes a deep breath.