SilverSneaker Program “Gets You Out Of The Chair At Home”
A newly accepted program at the Turtle Lake Schools had drawn in nearly two dozen members since its inception last year. SilverSneakers is a program that is benefiting senior citizens by allowing them use of the Turtle Lake Fitness Center facilities and equipment at no cost to the member.
“If your Medicare health plan, Medicare Supplement carrier or group retiree plan includes SilverSneakers as part of your benefit package, you can have access to our fitness center at no cost to you,” explained school Administrative Assistant Jean Pabst.
Pabst has been credited with the popularity of the program. Administrator Kent Kindschy praised her at the most recent school board meeting, citing Pabst as “being a silver herself” as one reason for its early success.
In July 2019 the District applied to become a facility that could accept SilverSneaker participants. Once accepted the program was put in place.
All of the equipment at the Fitness Center is available, which includes the treadmill, recumbent bikes, exercise bikes, elliptical machines, free weights, strength training machines, and the fitness gym where you can just walk around or shoot baskets. There is also stability balls, access to dvd exercise programs or a member may bring their own. Cable TV and wifi are also available while working out.
We talked to a half a dozen members ranging in age from 65 to 88. Most are recent members of the program but a couple of them have been members of the Fitness Center for the past couple of years.
Harriet Sollman, age 88, was the oldest member interviewed. Tom Ingham (SilverSneakers) and Tracy Mullen (Silver&Fit) were the youngest members, both at 65 years of age. Ingham explained prior to SilverSneakers he had been a Fitness Center member for two years.
“We also offer Silver&Fit, which is similar to SilverSneakers, but offered through different insurance providers.,” Pabst explained. “So, you may not qualify for SilverSneakers but might for Silver&Fit.”
For most, benefits of being a member of a fitness center of this quality included being close to where the members live and not having to travel to neighboring towns. “Everything is on one level and there is a big variety of equipment in super good shape to use. There are no stairs to climb and you can park close to the entrance of the center.”
Sandy Leisz, who has been a SilverSneakers member for the past couple of months, said she enjoys the treadmill. Dependent on oxygen, she said its nice to be able to set her bottle alongside the equipment and go to work.
There is no special time slot for the members. Most of them enjoy working out on their own, or with the group they arrive with. Key access allows them entry at any time. “If you cannot work out in the morning you can use the center in the evening,” one member said.
Mike Mullin tries to use most of the available equipment and Tracy Mullin likes to use the treadmill and weight equipment.
All the members commented on the center being nice and clean. “Wipes that are available allow you to sanitize your station prior to working out and then again after you have finished.”
Cleanliness of the facility is a priority. The school pays for weekly cleaning while school custodians also perform minor cleaning daily. Additional cleaning is done by staff and students who volunteer their time to help keep it clean also.
Everyone agreed they would recommend this program to others. “It’s the best and most cost effective one around,” Mike and Tracy said. Harriet said it gets her out of her chair at the house while others liked the fact they were not under any type of contract to use the center.
At this time there are no classes offered that are specific to SilverSneaker members. If anyone has a suggestion, the district would be happy to consider it. SilverSneaker members are included in the database of Fitness Center members and the school tries to make them aware of classes being offered via an e-mail message. Currently there are 80 paid Fitness Center members, along with the 20 SilverSneaker members and 5 Silver&Fit members.