Last January I was approached by Jill Ramsdell, the Engage Life Director at Atria Merrimack Place in Newburyport, to help make the fitness classes at this senior living community better. Jill had come to realize that the classes need to include more exercises that targetted core strength, mobility and balance for her senior residents. And so we began the “Level Up” program last March after I had trained the staff and participants in the new program.
My goal was to get folks out of their chairs and exercising on their feet. My initial approach partnered my older clients with one doing an exercise while seated and the other doing a different exercise standing behind their partner’s chair. By having them rotate back and forth between standing and sitting work I had them getting up and down 10 – 20 times during the course of the workout just to do the exercises. Participants used resistance bands, dumbbells and body weight to perform various movements like bending, hinging, pulling and pushing. Particular attention was paid to pulling shoulder blades down and in, standing skinny and tall from the hips to the shoulders to promote spinal stability and developing leg strength.
The following video shows the residents’ early efforts and I am pleased to say that it is now outdated because of the gains they have made. Future video of their work on agility ladders and unstable surfaces like the AirEx pad and BOSU trainers is in the works. Each class is a new adventure and exploration of what is possible. My clients are more confident in their ability to react to a fall and maintain good balance. I began this journey in 2009 when I developed the “Senior to Senior” program at Needham High School (to see a video about that program see our “Media” page) and I am excited to see where we go from here.