By Madison Loethen
An energetic, fun-loving, and hard-working group of senior citizens has taken over Boone Hospital Center’s WELLAWARE Fitness Center, and staff isn’t complaining one bit.
The new community is thanks to the fitness center’s recent implementation of the SilverSneakers® program. SilverSneakers® is the nation’s leading community fitness program for older Americans. It was founded in 1992 and is available to more than 14.5 million Medicare beneficiaries, through many Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Supplement carriers and group retiree plans. Seniors who are eligible for SilverSneakers® can join the WELLAWARE Fitness Center at no cost.
“I started at WELLAWARE in 1999 and have loved being a member. Now that it accepts SilverSneakers®, I am able to come here free! It really is a great program for seniors,” says fitness center member Phyllis Miller.
When a new SilverSneakers®-eligible senior joins the fitness center, staff gives them a tour of the center, talk about their fitness goals, and walk them though a workout.
“We are always here to answer any questions they might have and to make sure they are exercising safely,” says Doug McDowell, WELLWARE fitness center coordinator and exercise physiologist.
WELLAWARE’s SilverSneakers® participants have developed deep friendships with each other. They often check up on each other if someone misses a workout and stay after their sessions to catch up with friends over a cup of coffee.
Mary and Jim Smith joined the WELLAWARE fitness center as SilverSneakers® members after Mary received therapy in Boone Hospital Center’s outpatient cardiac rehabilitation program.
“We were very impressed with cardiac rehab and the staff there. I would often go with Mary to encourage her. The staff recommended Mary join the WELLAWRE fitness center to continue her health journey. We found out her membership would be covered by SilverSneakers®, so I decided to join too, since mine would be covered as well. We love coming to the gym together and keeping each other accountable,” says Jim.
Jim and Mary say they have made a lot of friends at the fitness center and their workouts are something they really look forward to.
“We say ‘We hope we live as long as that guy,’ and then see him working out and think ‘We better keep with it,’” says Jim.
“I am so grateful for the SilverSneakers® program. It is great for our health, and we love the community it provides,” says Mary.
SilverSneakers® is the nation’s leading community fitness program for older Americans. It was founded in 1992 and is available to more than 14.5 million Medicare beneficiaries, through many Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Supplement carriers and group retiree plans.
The WELLAWARE Fitness Center offers no-cost memberships for seniors eligible for SilverSneakers®. To check your eligibility, visit silversneakers.com or have your eligibility checked in person at the WELLAWARE Fitness Center, located on the lower level of Broadway Medical Plaza 1 (1601 E. Broadway) in Columbia.