Silver Sneakers offers fitness, fun, and friendship
The term “move it or lose it” becomes more of a reality as we age. It’s one thing to say, “I need to exercise”; it’s quite another to actually walk out the door and do it. That’s where certified fitness instructor Sheryl Boerger and her amazing group of FLEX/Silver Sneaker students come in. This energetic and vibrant group of seniors is all about getting and staying fit, and they come together to meet their goals four days a week at the recreation room at Mags Indoor Shooting Range in Moriarty, where owner Dave Tixier generously donated the space for the first few months.
Boerger insisted that I interview her students as well, because, “They’re the class, not me.” So I became a student, too. Thirty seconds in to her Monday morning class, I was handed a small basin with my supplies: resistance band, small exercise ball, a set of dumbbells, and a bottle of cold water. Then I chose my spot beside one of the many chairs that were situated around Boerger, who is adamant that her students stay hydrated while moving through the high-energy, hour-long class that seriously works every muscle group.
Erase any preconceived notions about what you think a senior exercise class might look like, because this place is hopping. For more than five years, Boerger has helped this diverse class of 11 to 20 people, depending on the day and weather, achieve healthier lives. “I work your body and mind, and God gets your soul,” says the dynamic Denver transplant.
Boerger’s students are quick to call her “fantastic,” and I can see why. She adores them and wants them to do well. “I enjoy pushing people to their limits to see how far they can personally take themselves without injury,” she says with conviction.
While the Silver Sneakers program is usually covered by insurance for seniors 65 and above, Boerger welcomes all ages to attend her classes. As an occupational therapist, I can say that this program would be a great addition to rehabilitation for anyone easing back into exercise after an injury or surgery, as students are free to do as much or as little as they’re able to—and always under the watchful and extremely helpful eye of the instructor.
The National Institute of Health cites the many benefits of seniors staying fit and active, from increased good mood and cognition to preventing or delaying many diseases and disabilities. But perhaps the greatest incentive to keep moving is that, as Boerger states, “They can be more independent, and they can do things now that they would not be able to do without some type of exercise program. If they exercise in a setting with others, you watch them open up a little bit more, like a rose blooming.”
Participants report that the camaraderie is their favorite thing about the class. They’ve become friends who share a meal as a class at least once a month—either at a potluck or at a local restaurant. They carpool when needed, and they encourage and support one another.
They all started taking the class for different reasons: retirement and the need to keep busy, arthritis, a fall, and not wanting to succumb to depression due to the death of a loved one. One participant named Joyce, who, at nearly 70 years old has had multiple sclerosis for 40 years, has regained muscle strength. Another, 92-year-old Ruth, has been coming about three times a week for over seven years and often brings freshly baked bread for the class.
It’s not difficult to get involved. Sheryl offers classes Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9:30 a.m to 10:30 a.m., and she encourages folks to come try a class to see if they like it. You’ll be guaranteed a fun time while you get fit, and I’m certain you’ll make a friend or two as well.
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