Parkville, Maryland--In January 2019, Mike Sullivan made a concerted effort to bolster his exercise and wellness regimen. He began using the on-site fitness center at Oak Crest, the Erickson Living managed senior living community, and by the end of the year, he was achieving his goals.
"My workout included the elliptical for cardio and weights for strength training. I also enjoyed water volleyball in the aquatics center and joined a walking group. All told, I tried to make use of the exercise facilities at Oak Crest six days per week," says Mike.
But as the calendar turned to 2020 and the pandemic took hold, Oak Crest residents were encouraged to physically distance and the fitness center temporarily closed. But even a pandemic couldn't derail Mike's determination to stay in shape.
"Since I couldn't go to the fitness center, I had to come up with something else," says Mike. "So, I started walking six miles a day outside around the loop road here at Oak Crest. I also climbed up and down the stairwell in my building, and I turned laundry detergent containers into weights to do arm curls."
Throughout the pandemic, Oak Crest residents also had access to virtual exercise and meditation classes, as well as strength and cardio videos on demand, via the community's in-house television station, WOCV Channel 973. Mike moved to the community with Doris Neff in 2015 from nearby Perry Hall.
Always physically active, he began to take advantage of opportunities at Oak Crest, first by joining the resident softball team. "I was initially hesitant about becoming involved with the on-site fitness center, but every trainer on the Oak Crest staff made me feel welcomed and appreciated," says Mike, a retired mass control technician with WJZ-TV in Baltimore.
Mike has been an active participant in the Oak Crest Triathlon, March Madness Free Throw Shooting Contest, Poker Run, Super Fit Challenge, and National Parks Challenge. He even played cornhole and pickleball.
"They make exercise rewarding and fun," says Mike. As soon as the fitness center reopened on June 23, Mike retired his laundry detergent bottles and headed back to the gym. "It feels good to be back," says Mike. "It's hard to keep up with a fitness routine, but keeping healthy, both mentally and physically, is important."
At the fitness center, Oak Crest residents have access to the latest technology and equipment designed specifically for the senior age bracket, including Matrix treadmills and ellipticals, SCIFIT Total Body Trainers, NuSteps, WaterRower HiRise rowing machines, HUR strength equipment, and CyberCycles (recumbent bicycles that feature a video screen displaying bike paths, virtual tours, and racing challenges).
Julie Sega, fitness manager at Oak Crest, and her team of trainers are on hand at the fitness center to assist residents with their fitness goals, as well as to maintain a safe and healthy environment.
"The safety and health of our fitness members, as well as our staff, is paramount, and we have taken extensive measures to ensure a safe environment," says Sega. "At this time, we do require masks during exercising, and hand sanitizing both before and after exercising. Sani-Cloth wipes are provided for each member to take with them to their piece of equipment, and signs reminding people to social distance are posted throughout the fitness center."
Three steps to success
Whether you have a home gym, belong to a fitness center, or enjoy exercising outdoors, Sega says, exercise at any age is not only important, it should be a priority. Sega, a certified MS Exercise Science, RYT 200 trainer, promotes three principles to people of all ages who are beginning an exercise program:
Goal setting: "Set the commitment and make it a priority in your life. At Oak Crest, for example, we perform a comprehensive assessment of each resident when they get started. Our team asks questions and listens to their priorities. It could be improving personal strength, balance, cardio, or even seeking socialization opportunities. We then map out objectives together."
Regimen: "Wake up and feel awesome today! This can be an early emotional boost to create the habit and move forward with your routine. Develop a calendar that describes your activities and tracks your progress. It could be a handwritten chart on your refrigerator or an app on your smartphone. Either way, you'll be able to celebrate your success and identify areas of improvement."
Support system: "Enrolling in a group class or working with a personal trainer, both services we offer at Oak Crest, are positive ways to generate enthusiasm and accountability and form friendships. These are all fundamental dimensions of wellness."
Mike was named a Fitness Center Star in 2019, a quarterly award given to a resident who always strives to excel. He is enjoying an active year, despite a rough start. "With the resources so close to our apartment home, there's never an excuse," says Mike. "Everything connects when you exercise."
About Oak Crest: Oak Crest, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 87-acre campus in Parkville, Maryland. The not-for-profit community of more than 2,100 residents and 1,250 employees is governed by its own board of directors, affiliated with National Senior Campuses, who provide independent financial and operational oversight of Oak Crest. Additional information can be found at OakCrestCommunity.com.