Tribune Print Share Text

Fitness center works out 24/7 schedule

Created date

August 25th, 2009

Since March 16, 2009, the fitness center at Maris Grove has been open 24/7, causing the number of visits to skyrocket from 1,500 to close to 1,800 each month. Fitness is important to most Maris Grove residents, and Lois Hayes who moved there last November from San Diego, Calif. is no exception. Though Hayes says she hates exercise, she can t imagine her life without it. I do it because I like the results. I like how it makes me feel. It s such a part of my daily routine, such an essential part of life, that I dare not stop, she says. Though she tends to wake up stiff, Hayes knows that if she gets to the gym, she can accomplish anything in the day. So the morning is when she visits the fitness center. The most important activity of the day is finished by 9:30 a.m., she explains. Her one-and-a-half-hour routine consists of 50 minutes of cardio broken into 20 minutes of walking on the treadmill and 30 minutes on the NuStep (a machine that allows her get her heart pumping while sitting). The rest of her time is spent doing free weights and weight machines, and she ends with stretching and yoga poses. She s as flexible as the body allows, says John O Donnell, manager of the fitness center. Safety first Unlike other 24-hour gyms, Maris Grove s fitness center doesn t leave its doors open. If residents want to visit after hours, they sign out a key at the front desk. When a key is signed out, security knows to keep an eye out. There s also a pull cord inside and an emergency alert pendant residents can wear if they re working out by themselves. But we encourage people to use the buddy system so they re never alone, O Donnell says. Hayes is grateful for the company because she believes she gets a better workout in the fitness center than she would in her apartment home. I d get distracted too easily. I d clean or read anything but exercise. That s why I go to the gym. And I feel comfortable there because it s all about safety first. The number one rule is don t fall down! Hayes only has sight in one eye, which affects her balance; so she specifically does exercises to help improve balance. My philosophy is, the one who does the most is the healthiest. And it s never too late to start, she says. Hayes adds that her peers commonly say they wish they would have started working out sooner. One challenge people face when trying to incorporate exercise into their daily lives, especially when just starting out, is the time it takes. People need to build it into their schedules. Once you establish a routine, it s just a part of your day, Hayes advises. And the staff at the fitness center helps residents formulate routines. Something for everyone To join the fitness center, people must meet with staff for a physical assessment that allows them to tailor an individual fitness program. Offerings include one-on-one personal training sessions; classes like water aerobics, chair yoga, and low-impact aerobics; and FallProof!, a ten-week training program available at every Erickson community, which focuses specifically on balance and mobility. To ensure access, Maris Grove makes the fitness center affordable. Membership is free for those enrolled in Erickson Advantage ' , a Medicare Advantage insurance plan exclusively for Erickson residents. For all others, it is $15 a month. Daily exercise allows people to stay strong and healthy, it allows them to do more things, and it gives them a better quality of life, O Donnell says. If someone were to have a knee replacement, the recovery time would be much quicker for an active individual versus a sedentary one. Exercise takes effort, says Hayes, but the benefits far outweigh any work. Bonds and friendships form as people sweat and laugh together. Emotionally, an active person feels more secure. And physically, the world opens up. Exercise in the aging population carries into functionality, O Donnell says. It s not just about how good you ll look on the beach.

Fast fact:

Maris Grove Wellness Manager John O Donnell and Fitness Specialist Jen Moser are certified athletic trainers with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. O Donnell is also a certified specialized personal trainer.