MANSFIELD -- Senior citizens make the most of their Mansfield Area YMCA memberships by utilizing every aspect of the facility. They orient their days around trips to the YMCA to complete their fitness regimens and visit with friends. These visits ultimately lead to familial relationships that boost members’ overall well-being.
“It’s just a great thing for any senior to have the opportunity to do what they need to improve their health, wellbeing and lifestyle,” Mansfied Area YMCA Vice President of Operations James Twedt said.
Eligible seniors can take advantage of SilverSneakers, a premiere fitness program covered by more than 60 health plans. The program provides a free YMCA membership with access to group exercise classes as well as a personalized fitness program designed by staff members. Mae Adams lives at Mansfield Memorial Homes, and enjoys attending the YMCA three times per week.
She walks, swims, uses 18 different strength training machines, and relaxes in the steam room and sauna. Adams also gets her blood pressure checked by volunteer Marcia Rice, RN, BSN.
“It really helps me because I can do things I never could,” Adams said. “I feel like I did when I was in my 40s, and now I am in my 80s.”
She recruits residents of her long-term care facility to join the YMCA.
“They see how I act, and they want to know how to stay healthy, relaxed and feeling good.”
Exercise has also helped Adams’ diabetes.
“My blood sugar now is 120, where it used to go to 300 or 400.”
Senior YMCA Member Jim Hoffman recommends the facility for individuals in their mid-60s through 90s for two reasons. First, exercising at the YMCA has improved his health significantly. Second, he thrives from the relationships formed at the facility.
“I wanted a place to walk and exercise without having the difference in the weather,” Hoffman said.
He also needed to regain strength and mobility after his knee replacement surgery in 2010. As a SilverSneakers member, he walks 1 to 2 miles on the track, uses eight strength training machines and attends the Enhance Fitness class on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. He tracks his approximately 6,000 repetitions per month using FitLinxx. Hoffman appreciates Enhance Fitness instructor Anu Joshi’s approach to helping participants modify the exercises and select the correct weights.
“She is very astute at watching what you are doing because you can injure yourself by lifting weights,” Hoffman said.
He appreciates the attentiveness of all staff members.
“They leave messages offering to help with weights and cardio,” Hoffman said. “When you get that kind of reception, you are missing the boat if you don’t join.”
Hoffman believes joining the YMCA helped him recover from his knee surgery and remain pain free. He also lost 42 pounds in the last two years due, at least in part, to his exercise program.
“I feel great and at my age, I have no pain – none whatsoever,” Hoffman said. “What an opportunity offered for people like me.”
After completing his workout for the day, he visits with fellow members that have become family. Though they are around the same age, he appreciates the diversity among his fellow seniors.
“There are so many nice people that you learn about,” Hoffman said. “Regardless of education, nationality and race, they all have something to offer that’s very interesting. They are family.”
After completing his workouts, Hoffman sits at a round table in the wellness area with fellow seniors. They discuss sports, politics and local events. They encourage each other to stay active and attend activities outside of the YMCA. Hoffman’s YMCA family remains closely connected, but they regularly welcome new members into the group. They introduce themselves and instruct new members on what equipment to use for class. He said those people usually become long-time members because they feel included. Adams also appreciates the opportunity to connect with other seniors at the YMCA.
“The culture is very warm and very nice,” she said. “We really help one another and keep each other up-to- date on things.”
Hoffman and Adams have clearly benefited from the YMCA staff’s dedication to serving its senior citizens.
“Our main goal is not only to increase the health of our seniors, but also to connect seniors to each other,” Twedt said.
Twedt said the YMCA staff members strive to cultivate an atmosphere of positive energy and connectedness. “We have a lot of seniors that come in and they have lost a loved one or they are living isolated,” he said. “They come in and they want to connect with people.”
Hoffman’s YMCA family members even celebrate each other’s birthdays. This year his special friends decorated their table in the wellness area, brought cheesecake and cookies, and sang happy birthday.
“It was an extra special day for me,” Hoffman said. “We try to make everyone’s birthday special.”
He gives back be giving birthday cards with a SilverSneakers group picture enclosed.
“I pretty much remember everyone’s birthday,” Hoffman said. “If they tell me once, I remember it.”
Twedt enjoys hearing feedback from the family members of senior YMCA members.
“The children of the seniors come in and say thank you so much for taking care of my mom or my dad.” “It’s a place where people can recreate and communicate,” Twedt said. “We do improve lives each and every day with what we provide to not only seniors, but all individuals in the community.”