SilverSneakers at Anytime Fitness

Anytime Fitness is offering a program for older adults that’s in correlation with the SilverSneakers program.

The SilverSneakers program is offered through participating health plans to those 65 and older. In fact, one in five people 65 and older are already eligible for the benefit. If you are a group retiree or part of a Medicare health plan you may already have a SilverSneaker membership.

The program at Anytime Fitness is free if you’re a member of the SilverSneakers program.

Anytime Fitness, located at 110 Union Plaza Drive in Union, hosts a 30-minute exercise class for senior citizens at 9:30 a.m., Monday through Thursday.

The class is led by Edwin Van Weelden. Van Weelden said he started the program as a chance to give seniors a way to stay in shape, lose weight, feel better and just have fun.

“It started as a way to get seniors active,” Van Weelden said. “We were trying to increase awareness in the senior community about the program. It has really started to grow.”

The program is growing so much that Van Weelden said he will be adding two more classes to meet the amount of seniors interested in the program.

“We focus on aerobic, core, muscle building, and stretching exercises,” Van Weelden said. “We want to get the heart rate up a bit.”

The 15 members who were in attendance seem to enjoy the half-hour workout very much. As seniors exercise, they talk about their day, joke around with each other and Van Weelden and discuss what impact a particular exercise can have on their health.

“It builds camaraderie,” Van Weelden said. “These ladies enjoy getting together and working out.”

Van Weelden, who also runs his own insurance company, said that starting the group was a way to get seniors involved in the gym.

“I’m trying to be a positive role model for them,” he said. “We are all on the same team and want to get healthy.”

The group is accepting of Van Weelden’s advice and exercises, often joking around with him during stretches or particular exercises.

“He’s an excellent teacher,” Joanne West, of Union, said. “I started just to keep moving, but it’s something that I enjoy.”

The group’s motto is “Getting to a Healthy Place,” which for some could be physical, while for others it may be mentally or even spiritually.

Many members of the group said they would not be in the good shape that they are without Van Weelden’s guidance.

“It’s nice to go into a store and buy a lower pant size,” Marie Wolf, of Union, said. “He’s really helped me. I feel really good since I started coming every day.”

Rhonda Jordan, of Union, said she is relatively new to the exercise group, but can already see the benefits of it. Jordan had undergone two disc-fusions and has three herniated discs.

“Edwin worked with me on which machines I should use,” Jordan said. “He also helped me with a good long stretch. I slept the best I had in a long time that night because I didn’t have the pain I usually had.”

Other members also voiced their appreciation of the program and Van Weelden’s guidance, saying they were grateful for the extra energy to keep up with grandchildren and being able to fit into smaller clothes.

The group does not only work out inside of Anytime Fitness. Van Weelden has accompanied the group on the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Walk in St. Louis, while also getting the group outside when the weather is nice. The group also comes together for bowling outings on certain days.

“We will get outside and walk when the weather is nicer,” Van Weelden said. “They also want me to start a Zumba class. I told them I have two left feet, but I’m willing to give anything a try that they are willing to do.”

To learn more about the SilverSneakers program, call Anytime Fitness at (636) 584-0563 or visit the website at www.anytimefitness.com. If you are not eligible for the SilverSneakers, call Anytime Fitness for information on the senior discount special.