According to Brenda Gjelsness, senior adviser, attendance of senior fitness classes at Choice Health & Fitness is starting to look like it did pre-COVID. She says water aerobics classes are almost full every day, while group fitness classes have been slower to regain attendance numbers seen before the pandemic.
Choice Health & Fitness offers a variety of group fitness and water aquatics classes specifically catered toward people age 55 and older. The variety of classes ensures people of all fitness levels can find a way to move their bodies.
SilverSneakers Classic is a class for muscular strength and range of motion. Senior circuit targets cardiovascular endurance. Fun & Fit is a step class designed for seniors, but can be modified to do the same moves on the ground. Gentle yoga and chair yoga both provide a relaxing yoga experience focused on breathing and stretching. Senior Splash is a water aerobics class designed specifically for seniors. Seniors can also participate in the personal training services offered at Choice Health & Fitness.
Gjelsness says people between the ages of 55 and 85 attend senior fitness classes, and with a range in ages comes a range in abilities. Within each class, instructors demonstrate modifications to exercises, making each class a good fit for anyone who participates.
According to Gjelsness, classes for seniors do more than just provide an opportunity to exercise. For many, fitness classes are an important part of their social life.
“A lot of times they’re coming in and they’re getting exercise, but maybe they’re bringing a friend with them,” said Gjelsness. “They might sit around and have coffee afterwards or in class they’re socializing with each other.”
The most popular classes among seniors are water aerobics classes, which provide light cardio workouts that are easy on the joints. Along with regular co-ed water aerobics classes, the gym offers one specifically for men – Gentlemen’s Water Aerobics.
Gjelsness said the men’s water aerobics class came out of a challenge. One day, some of the men at the gym were joking that the water aerobics classes, primarily attended by women, were easy. Gjelsness challenged the men to try the workout.
“So, they got five of them together, and we went out to the pool, and they were like ‘wow, that was really a workout,’” said Gjelsness.
The men’s class has gained popularity since then, and is regularly attended by 16 to 18 men.
Water aerobics classes allow participants to spread out in the pool, which Gjelsness believes is part of the reason class numbers have bounced back quicker than other group fitness classes.
“It’s talking time for people to feel comfortable coming back to the gym, being around people and being in a group situation,” said Gjelsness. She encourages seniors to come back to the gym as they feel comfortable.
Choice Health & Fitness offers discounted membership rates for seniors, but before anyone older than 55 years old buys a membership, Gjelsness says they should check with their insurance company to see if they can get a free or discounted membership. Many insurance companies partially or completely cover the costs of fitness memberships for seniors at gyms that offer senior fitness classes.
“They have found that the more people exercise, they’re healthier. So if they start exercising, medications go down, they feel better, and their balance is better so there are less falls,” said Gjelsness.
Memberships to Choice Health & Fitness are $49.30 per month for individual seniors and $65.60 per month for senior couples.