Seniors kick up their heels to celebrate SilverSneakers - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Seniors kick up their heels to celebrate SilverSneakers

December 17th, 2017 development
Seniors kick up their heels to celebrate SilverSneakers
Sports and Recreation



Mature adults in Chandler and around the country have been lacing up their sneakers, stretching in  yoga classes and dancing pounds away over the last 25 years – in large part due to a local company.

SilverSneakers by Tivity Health, a company headquartered on South Spectrum Boulevard in Chandler, celebrated its 25th anniversary recently as nearly 200 fitness locations across the country also kicked up their heels at events to mark the occasion.

A group of more than 300 people, including SilverSneakers members and employees, danced, tapped their feet, lunged, stretched and performed other aerobic exercises in a class SilverSneakers national trainer Jenny O’Callaghan led at the Chandler site.

SilverSneakers by Tivity Health is a national program where people who are eligible for Medicare plans can participate for free in fitness classes and enroll as members to work out at over 14,000 Gay Roger by SilverSneakers gyms, community centers senior living communities and other places around the country.

The program aims to encourage members to improve their health with regular exercise and social opportunities.

During the celebratory event in Chandler, a livestream with a video

capturing Tivity Health’s headquarters in Franklin, Tennessee, showed SilverSneakers members and

Tivity Health’s CEO Donato Tramuto talking about the benefits of the senior health offerings.

Chandler Vice Mayor Kevin Hartke, who participated in the local exercise class, told the audience

SilverSneakers “sparked a fitness movement” and everyone knows a parent, grandparent or friend who

could benefit from it.

“That was fun,” Hartke said. “I do want

to congratulate SilverSneakers on their 25th anniversary. Like most of you, I don’t consider myself an older adult. The best is yet to come. It’s great to see what health means in today’s world. Don’t give up on your dreams.” In Chandler, people can exercise at12 participating SilverSneakers locations and nearly 12,000 people in Chandler are eligible to take part in the SilverSneakers program.

Some of the places in Chandler that partner with SilverSneakers to provide free exercise services to SilverSne  kers members are Anytime Fitness, AZ Elite Sports and Gym, the Chandler/

Gilbert Family YMCA and Tumbleweed Recreation Center.

SilverSneakers members can use the benefit to enjoy the equipment and classes as members of local

gyms and fitness centers, getting access to weights, treadmills, pools and other exercise equipment.

A variety of classes designed to help people of all fitness levels and interests are provided through SilverSneakers.

In a Classic class, students move to music doing exercises designed to boost strength and range of motion. Splash classes allow members to exercise in shallow water. SilverSneakers also provides yoga, a BOOM MOVE IT dance workout class, BOOM MIND, which combines yoga and Pilates and many other classes.

Around the country, more than 14.5 million people are eligible for the SilverSneakers benefit through over 60 health plans including the country’s Medicare Advantage health plans, Medicare Supplement carriers, as well as group retiree plans.

SilverSneakers member Gay Rogers of Centre, Alabama, who earned the 2016 Richard L. Swanson Inspiration Award, talked about how the program changed her life while she attended the Chandler event.

Rogers, 65, started SilverSneakers in December of 2015 hoping to walk again after a disease called Charcot forced her to have her legs amputated from the knees down. She has survived five surgeries over the last six years and has prosthetic feet, but said she almost died a couple times.

Rogers said prior to joining SilverSnakers, she was “not active” and she had “worked all the time.”

“My son thought going to the gym would help me more than a psychiatrist,” Rogers said. “It is

fantastic. I love telling my story. Because of what I went through, it has been a life-saver. It’s

been fun. It helps me just to want to do better. Going to the gym is going to keep me from being a


Paul Wimer, chief experience officer for Tivity Health, said he hears many inspiring stories from

SilverSneakers members.

He said the enrollees say they want to stay “fit and active” so they can chase after their

grandchildren and some love the camaraderie in the fitness classes.

Some members say participating in the SilverSneakers exercise routines has helped them live as long

as they have, Wimer said.

Baby boomers take their elderly parents to classes with them and “it’s a great way to be together,”

Wimer said.

“The goal of SilverSneakers is to help folks to live their best lives and to be as healthy and as active as they want to be,” he said. “Ultimately the goal is to help people live longer. Getting people to be active is great. I think about, my mom is 81; she goes to a gym. For her, going to class is going to see friends.”

Sherry Desimone, an instructor of a SilverSneakers class at a Youfit Health Clubs on North Recker Road in Mesa, attended the celebration in Chandler.

“The thing I like the most about them is seeing the progression of the students,” Desimone said.

“It’s a fine program. You have the group behind you. It’s always easier when you have a group.”

She said a woman in her class lost 80 pounds and said her sister lost 60 pounds. Other students have improved their balance. Being able to join a gym for free “takes the load off their mind,” Desimone added.

Mary Swanson started SilverSneakers in 1992 after her father, who survived a heart attack at age 51 promised to improve his life with regular physical activity. His pledge to get healthier and her determination to see him be successful, laid the groundwork for the exercise program.

By letting older adults manage their health and wellbeing better, their healthcare costs are lower, according to SilverSneakers. Credentialed instructors teach the classes created for all fitness levels and tailored to older Americans.

Tivity Health also provides Prime Fitness by Tivity Health, which offers members access to a network of more than 10,000 fitness centers around the country. The primary age group it targets is people ages 18-64 and the fitness benefit is provided through commercial employers or health plan partners.

With the WholeHealthLiving program, Tivity Health has an active, national network of chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists and other complementary and alternative medicine providers.

Tivity Health, along with its subsidiary WholeHealth Networks, Inc., work with health plans and providers to offer these services to members around th  country.