Providing inner-city minorities with inexpensive exercise programs may be a means of reducing frailty and maintaining independent lifestyles in this population. To determine the efficacy of such a program, 22 African-American women aged 62-94 years were recruited from a senior center in the Wichita urban community. Sixteen women (age = 74.8 +/- 8.8 yr) participated in exercise training (3 days per week for 4 weeks) and 6 women (age = 74.7 +/- 4.5 yr) served as controls. Training consisted of chair-based exercises using elastic resistance bands (upper and lower body) and dumbbells (upper body). Elastic band training improved (p < 0.05) lower body strength (30-second chair stand, time for 5 stands) by approximately 20% and the combination of bands and dumbbell training improved upper body strength (30-second dumbbell curl) by 24%. Grip strength improved by 5%. Up-&-Go performance improved by 10% although balance and mobility exercises were not a fundamental element of the training program. Upper and lower body flexibility did not change. Changes were not observed for any variable in the control group. This study suggests that exercising with equipment that costs only a few dollars per participant improves upper and lower body fitness in older African-American women who live in an urban setting.