Silver Sneakers Program Helping Seniors Stick With Exercise Program

Jim Derner, Washington, has been involved in Silver Sneakers for two years -- first as a class participant, and now as an instructor. He was asked to fill in for the instructor one day and enjoyed it so much that he decided to get formal training.

Jim Derner is an active member of the staff at the Four Rivers Area Family YMCA in Washington.

When it comes to various programs and classes, or if it’s just providing general guidance to members, Derner always is there.

“I’m a group exercise instructor trained in group exercise,” Derner said. “I also work in the fitness center.”

Derner’s speciality is the Silver Sneakers program.

“I’ve been involved in Silver Sneakers for two years,” Derner said. “I took four of five classes myself and was asked to fill in for the instructor one day. I enjoyed it, got my formal training and the rest is history.”

The Four Rivers YMCA has had a recent increase in membership due to area insurances providing memberships for seniors through the Silver Sneakers program.

The Silver Sneakers membership is the same as the basic YMCA membership.

The membership includes use of the YMCA’s facility, which includes a swimming pool, fitness center, indoor walking/running track, group exercise, water fitness and cycling classes, all of which are listed on a YMCA activities booklet.

Additionally, personnel are available to help new members just getting started to begin using the various exercise equipment.

See personnel at the front desk to register for classes before attending to ensure there are openings.

Derner currently instructs Silver Sneakers classes at the YMCA. Vera Brinkley assists with teaching the class.

Approximately six other instructors are being trained for the program, according to YMCA Physical Director Michelle Villmer.

“Some benefits noted by Silver Sneakers members have been a more flexible neck when looking from side to side,” Derner said. “Additionally, hips feel better during and after certain exercises. There’s overall improved balance and coordination.”

Derner, a Washington native, said there are dedicated Silver Sneaker participants.

“They are finding it easier to stay with exercises at the YMCA as opposed to doing exercises at home on their own.”

The Silver Sneakers Muscular Strength and Range of Movement (MSROM) classes have been expanded from 20 to 30 per class, and have also increased from two to five classes per week.

“The program has really taken off,” Derner said.

More classes will be offered later this year after additional instructors are trained.

Silver Sneakers cardio circuit, yoga stretch and Silver Splash classes will be offered later in the year after required instructors training is completed.

“The group has fun and are somewhat vocal when things get going,” Derner said.

A new trial introductory seasoned cycling class for those 55 and older is being offered at the YMCA. The class will also expand with more classes later in the year as interest increases.

Additionally, there is a senior-friendly beginner cycle class that has openings.

Derner, 68, retired three years ago after working at McDonnell Douglas for 30 years.

The YMCA has a lot of ways to become more physically active and improve overall health and wellness.

Seniors are encouraged to try several of the options, find the ones that suit their needs and then make a habit of using the YMCA’s facility a minimum of three times per week to get the health benefits of being more physically active.