Discovering the fountain of youth

Ashby Ponds fitness center promotes physical activity, healthy aging

Created date

April 22nd, 2020
Ashby Ponds, community member William “Bill” Boleyn visits the fitness center for three workouts a week. He is seen here participating in the community’s annual Summer Olympics.

Since his move to Ashby Ponds, community member William “Bill” Boleyn visits the fitness center for three workouts a week. He also enjoys participating in the community’s annual Summer Olympics.

"It’s never too late to start an exercise program, no matter your age or physical condition,” says Debra Silvers Enright, fitness coordinator at Ashby Ponds. “We start everyone off slowly, ensuring that no one works out in a way that causes injury. And in doing so, we help create a habit.”

And this habit is a proven fountain of youth. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, physical activity is essential to healthy aging. It recommends adults age 65-plus get two and a half hours of moderate physical activity a week and do muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups twice a week.

In the book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain (Little, Brown and Company, 2013), author John J. Ratey, M.D., notes that “Exercise is the number one thing you can do for your brain.” In fact, research shows that cognitive abilities improve with just one aerobic workout.

And while science and research are on their side, the hundreds of people visiting Ashby Ponds’ fitness center remain committed to their workouts simply because it is fun and makes them feel better.

Healthy decisions

William “Bill” Boleyn began working out in the fitness center shortly after his move more than ten years ago. His former home, with more than seven acres, allowed him the opportunity to remain physically active performing outdoor chores such as chopping firewood. But he never maintained a formal fitness program until he stepped foot into the fitness center at Ashby Ponds.

“Immediately, the trainers made me feel welcomed like family. They were simply delightful,” says Bill.

His routine consists of individual strength and cardio workouts three days a week, utilizing state-of-the-art equipment such as the NuStep and recumbent exercise bicycle. He also takes a Stretch & Balance group class.

“This exercise program has contributed to my good health and longevity,” he says. “I do it with conviction as I’ve only missed a few workouts over the past ten years. Completing my regimen also provides a sense of accomplishment. The whole process gives me what I call ‘go-power.’”

Elaine and Lloyd Ulrich began visiting the fitness center regularly following their move to Ashby Ponds six months ago. Like Bill, the couple makes frequent visits, choosing to engage in a variety of workouts.

“The fitness center is a very important part of our lives,” says Elaine. “We are both working on 100 days of exercise at least 30 minutes a day.”

As a fun incentive for community members, the Ashby Ponds fitness center awards those who reach 100 days of workouts with a t-shirt as a reward.  

“I feel that fitness and physical activity are an excellent way to keep in good shape,” says Elaine. “I find that I think more clearly, feel invigorated, and am able to maintain better health, including lower blood pressure.”

Leading by example

Often, the hardest part of beginning a workout routine is taking the first step. Fortunately, for the community members at Ashby Ponds, the fitness staff make that first visit fun and stress-free.

“When a resident visits the fitness center for the first time, our team seizes the moment by welcoming them,” says Enright. “We know it can be intimidating, especially if you’ve never used the equipment. We ask many questions, listen, and then invite the resident to try a machine like the NuStep to build initial confidence. We’re there every step of the way.”

“The staff at the fitness center is very helpful,” says Elaine. “They show you how to use all the machines and give you advice on which machines would be best [for you].” 

Convenience is key

Another key to achieving success when it comes to fitness goals is convenience. Ashby Ponds community members are able to make it to the gym regardless of weather conditions or busy schedules.

“I attend fitness classes every morning at 9 a.m.,” says Kim Finan. “These visits often include two cardio classes, yoga, barre, and Pilates. Occasionally, I can squeeze in another sports activity, like pickleball, especially in bad weather when I can’t garden.”

Because the fitness center is available to residents 24 hours a day, seven days a week, community members are welcome to work out on a schedule that best meets their needs. When staff members are not present, residents must wear an alert that, when pressed, alerts security staff.

“Each day, we meet with people who have never made exercise a part of their daily life as well as those who’ve been active for years and years,” says Enright. “It is so fulfilling to witness the people who never had a gym as a part of their lives, and often find them intimidating, take that first step and transform their health and lives.”

“I strongly recommend a visit to the fitness center for everyone who lives at Ashby Ponds,” says Elaine. “People of all physical levels will gain support and confidence through talking to the physical trainers.”