When you hear the word ‘gym,’ do you think of fun exercise classes, supportive fitness trainers and socializing with friends? Or do you associate the gym with loud noises, blaring music and crowded workout machines? If it’s the latter, the gym is probably not a very appealing, and perhaps even intimidating, place for you.
If the gym environment you envision makes you uncomfortable, you may be surprised to learn that a gym for seniors could change your mind. Not only does a gym for seniors provide all the benefits of other gyms, but they also offer a wide range of senior exercise programs, ideal for those beginning a new exercise routine or those who have been active for a while. Either way, you’re bound the find the right program for you.
So, how exactly do you go about finding a gym for seniors? Luckily, this is much easier than it sounds!
Finding a Gym for Seniors
Although we don’t commonly hear about gyms that are solely dedicated to helping seniors maintain their mobility and independence as they age, that certainly doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. In fact, finding a gym for seniors is now easier than ever thanks to the development of the Age-Friendly Facilities and Services Locator from AARP and the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA).
To find a local gym for seniors, all you have to do is either type in your zip code or choose the type of facility you are looking for in the drop-down box, select your state and city and then click the ‘search’ button to see the options available to you. It’s that simple!
As an added bonus, the locator uses icons to help you determine if the gym is a good fit for your activity level. For example, if you’re just beginning to exercise, look for the red “Getting Started” icon next to the senior fitness center, or if you regularly engage in competitions or strenuous recreational activities, then you would look for the yellow “Athlete” icon.
Other Senior Fitness Programs
Although the Age-Friendly Facilities and Services Locator is the easiest way to find a local gym for seniors, there are other senior fitness programs you can look into, such as:
- Silver Sneakers: Also developed by AARP, Silver Sneakers is one of the most well-known senior exercise programs on the market. With more than 13,000 gyms and 60 healthcare plans involved, this program provides access to an extensive network of gyms and fitness classes that are ideal for seniors, at no extra cost to you.
- EnhanceFitness: Through this program, more than 500 locations across the country offer hour-long exercise classes led by a certified instructor, who guides the group of participants through a series of aerobic, strength, balance and flexibility exercises.
- The Y’s Active Older Adults Program: This program features a variety of senior exercise programs, ranging from swimming to gentle pilates and yoga classes. This program is not offered at all YMCAs, however, so be sure to check your local YMCA (or use the Age-Friendly Facilities and Services locator) for availability.
Senior Exercise Programs You Can Do at the Gym
When it comes to senior fitness, including a variety of exercises in your daily routine is a key component in helping you maintain your mobility, and the gym is the perfect place to do so. Not only will you have access to certified fitness trainers and instructors, but it also has all the equipment and classes you’ll need to create a balanced workout regiment featuring the four types of exercises:
- Strength: Lifting weights is a great way to strengthen your muscles, but be sure to have a certified fitness trainer or instructor nearby to spot you. If you don’t feel comfortable lifting weights, resistance bands are a great alternative. You can also use your own bodyweight to do these stretches and experience the benefits of strength training.
- Balance: Experiencing a loss of balance becomes more common with age, but signing up for a tai chi class at a gym for seniors will improve your balance and help you stay on your feet. Tai chi also comes with many other health benefits, including aerobic conditioning, flexibility and muscle strength.
- Aerobic: By increasing your breathing and heart rate, aerobic senior exercise programs strengthen your heart, lungs and circulatory system. At the local gym for seniors, you could enjoy a walk or jog on the treadmill, a swim in the pool, or maybe even a ballroom dancing class.
- Flexibility: Doing flexibility exercises will not only stretch your muscles, but it will also help you perform simple tasks you do in your daily life, like tying your shoes. Luckily, most gyms and senior fitness centers offer yoga classes, which is one of the best flexibility exercises.
Guaranteed Safety At The Gym
Although exercise is a key component of healthy aging, it’s important to remember that accidents can happen anytime and anywhere. Whether you’re heading to the gym or senior fitness center in your area, remember to take your Mobile Guardian with you. Should you experience an accident while exercising, our emergency operators will send help to your exact location right away.