Everyone needs a passion and for Laurie Nathanson it’s laughter.

She’s been running her Laughoholics Club for years, first from the fire station and then Curves and now Nathanson is offering her class out of the Pecos Senior Center.

Nathanson is working on making her laughoholics club a full-time job but her profession for years has been manicures. That’s how she became so close to seniors.

“I’ve been a manicurist for 35 years,” Nathanson said. “I love my job. I’ve worked with a lot of seniors and I’ve had a lot of clients. I’ve always loved them. They’re so great and so wise. I’ve just loved seniors, so I went to the city of Phoenix and I became an independent contractor for the human services department.”

As an independent contractor Nathanson can offer her class through community centers, as long as that center is willing to hire her. She found a company called Caremor that was willing to hire independent contractors to do a six week program at the senior center. She approached Pecos with the idea and at the end of the six weeks she was invited back. Now Nathanson will be offering her Laughoholics club one Tuesday morning of each month.

Nathanson’s laughter club comes from Laughter Yoga that was originally started in India. Nathanson calls it Laughter Wellness instead.

“I was calling it laughter yoga but a lot of people when they hear yoga are afraid to come,” Nathanson said. “They think I’m going to twist them and make them get on a mat. Some people don’t want to go because they think it’s going to be exercise. It’s laughter wellness. That’s what it is. You’re just sitting there and you’re exercising. It’s like internal jogging. You’re getting your blood flowing and more oxygen. The proof is there in the research. It’s nature’s therapy.”

I’ve never attended Nathanson’s class but I was introduced to Laughter Yoga during a class at ASU. A Laughter Yoga instructor came to our class, took us all out of the classroom and into a park (filled with people, by the way) and then took us through these exercises made to make us laugh. It was a little embarrassing, a little uncomfortable and to be honest it just seemed silly. But—according to Nathanson—that’s the point.

“Kids laugh about 300 times a day and adults laugh maybe 15,” Nathanson said. “Somewhere along the way we stopped laughing. We started getting self conscious. Laughter in contagious. It’s something you want to get and you want to spread.”

The point of attending a laughter class often is getting over that self consciousness I felt in the middle of a large public park as an ASU student. Even if you do have to fake the laughter for the first little bit, there are still health benefits to fake laughter, Nathanson said.

Nathanson’s goal now is just to get more seniors taking advantage, not only of her laughter class but of the Pecos Senior Center.

“They have so much there,” Nathanson said. “It’s a beautiful center and so under utilized. They offer so much.”

For more information on the senior center call (602) 534-5366 or stop by the Ahwatukee center at 17010 S. 48th St.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com

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