The gym at the Fairfield Senior Center on Saturday morning, despite gloomy weather outdoors, was alive with the "thwack" of pickleballs ricocheting off rackets as players sweated it out match after match.

The sport was the first activity planned as part of new programs launching Saturdays at the center, 100 Mona Terrace. Other activities, including zumba, cardio fitness, qigong and functional fitness, will begin later in October.

The senior center will be open Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to noon, through Dec. 20, except for observance of the Columbus Day holiday on Oct. 11. The Saturday programming is designed to make the center more appealing to the town's older adults who are still working.

"Pickleball is one of the most popular activities here at the center, with 130 players registered," said Maryann Charmoz, U.S. Pickleball Association ambassador for Fairfield, who was overseeing Saturday's matches. "It's the most addicting sport I've come across in years, as well as fastest growing in the U.S. It has multiple benefits including cardio, strategy, easy to learn, helps with memory with regard to scoring and very social."

The sport is a fast-paced combination of tennis, ping pong and paddleball.

The center first experimented with Saturday programs in March, according to Teresa Giegengack, the town's social services director. "We started a pilot program in the spring and it took off like wildfire," she said. "We began with pickleball, a fitness program in the dining hall and a caregivers program. All proved successful and that there was an interest. We officially launched today."

For more information about the Fairfield Senior Center, visit http://bit.ly/1rYCB21.