"WHO WILL TAKE CARE OF ME WHEN I’M OLD?" This question may be an equalizer for all generations. It will also inevitably lead to another heavy question: “What’s next for me?”
24 Hour Fitness hopes to answer those questions with Active Aging Week through September 29, dedicated to encouraging active, aging adults to hone in on their basic fitness skills and, in turn, improve their confidence. The fitness chain, a member of the International Council on Active Aging, has invited guests age 50 and older to stop by a 24 Hour Fitness location for a free workout until Sunday.
As a group exercise instructor, this writer knows firsthand that confidence skyrockets when aging adults are given opportunities to learn more exercises, attend group classes, stay active, become more socially active, and stay upright. We spoke with Barbara Williams, a 24 Hour Fitness GX24 and SilverSneaker instructor, to learn more.
What made you want to offer more fitness opportunities specifically to older adults?
After having a triple bypass surgery, I was instructed to go to the gym by my doctor. I spent a lot of time on the gym floor using various machines and noticed there was no one available to help monitor my heart. My doctor suggested that I take up water aerobics. The instructors at 24 Hour Fitness worked with me and helped me overcome my fear of water. Because of my personal health accomplishments, I’ve become personally invested in helping others achieve the same freedoms and goals. I have a B.A. in performing arts, and I taught physical education at Worsham Elementary for five years. At 24 Hour Fitness, I am certified in classic and circuit, CPR-certified, and water-certified by the American Red Cross.
What classes are most popular among this demographic, and what's the difference between that and a typical studio class offering?
The classes which are most utilized at 24 Hour Fitness for aging adults are SilverSneaker classic, Zumba Gold, and Aqua. In the aging adult classes there are weights, balls, and tubing available to use while exercising; tubing is not available in GX24 classes. There are also additional modifications including chairs to help assist with the active aging adults. Music and the overall movements and environment is modified to adjust to the member.
What about older adults who aren't so active?
Anyone who has a desire to attend a program at 24 Hour Fitness is welcome. We offer a three-day pass to come in to experience and observe the gym. Active aging members are paired with instructors like myself, and I make it my goal to modify my workouts to fit their needs but not to over-exert them. Above all, I teach my clients to have fun while striving to be the healthiest version of themselves.
What else should people know?
I love what I do. I’ve been to the point where I was on the brink of death—I am extremely happy that there are programs available like Active Aging to help meet the needs of people who are not extreme athletes or [don't] have youth and flexibility on their side. Having this program and celebrating Active Aging week at 24 Hour Fitness is vital to reaching the aging community and helping them understand that their health ailments don’t mean the end of their life, but rather that there is life yet to be lived.