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Progressing Through Movements, Not Labels

Silver Sneakers

Fifteen years ago, Crunch franchisee Vince Julian would not have included Silver Sneakers in the gym’s programming. But after he took over a Gold’s Gym that offered Silver Sneakers, and turned it into a Crunch location, he reconsidered.

Silver Sneakers is a workout program created for older populations. It was started by Healthways and has been implemented into many health and fitness clubs throughout the U.S. To offer Silver Sneakers, clubs must submit a form to be considered.

When Julian first took over, the Silver Sneakers program was chair-based. He wanted to re-format the class to better fit the Crunch brand. “They put them in chairs and that was fine for a certain part of that population, but [that age group] can do a lot more than just sit in a chair and participate in some kind of an exercise class,” explained Julian.

So he contacted Healthways and explained he wanted to implement the program into Crunch, but through movement-based progressions, calling the classes Move It 1, Move It 2 and Move It 3.  “Move It 1 is more of an introductory class,” explained Julian. “It might be the base class, but again it doesn’t include chairs. Because again, the fundamental purpose is that we’re trying to get people out of chairs. We’re trying to create movement. We’re trying to improve flexibility, quicken reflexes, increase range of motion.”

While chairs are still available to the population that needs them in the Move It classes, Julian said he’s noticing a progression in the members’ movements, instead of regression.

On average, his Crunch location has anywhere from 8,000 to 9,000 members, and 30 percent of that population is 55-years-old, or older. And there are 60 to 75 members in each Silver Sneakers class. Julian believes the popularity is due to the community the class fosters. “Seniors do love the group. They do love the formatted classes because it’s camaraderie. It’s a bunch of people that are in their age bracket. Remember one thing about fitness: it’s entertainment,” said Julian. “[People] want to go into a club where people of a similar nature are going to be. And the Silver Sneaker class is the same way.”

The Silver Sneakers classes are 30-minutes long at Julian’s Crunch locations. But the classes are scheduled back-to-back, for those who wish to stay longer. Julian said the classes are also offered multiple times a day and in different formats, such as classic, circuit, CardioFit and yoga.

With programs like Silver Sneakers becoming more popular in gyms across the country, Julian believes the 80-year-old 15 years from now is going to be more physically active than the 80-year-old today. And the program has empowered the older population to take general classes, without fear. “You can’t label these people,” said Julian.

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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