Sue Boreskie on Active Aging Adult Programs
This month we sat down with Sue Boreskie, the CEO of Reh-Fit Centre, to discuss active aging adult programs.
How does your facility serve active aging adults?
We are a medical fitness center, so we tend to attract individuals who want to maintain or improve their health in the safest possible environment. Many have risk factors or health issues they would like to resolve or cope with more satisfactorily. These tend to be older people, and in fact, our single largest age bracket is males 55 to 60 years old.
We have designed our facility spaces and acquired equipment with our membership’s age profile in mind. Spaces are accessible and the equipment must be suited to a wide range of abilities. Space for socialization and member events is provided because these opportunities are very important to older members. Their social circle develops at the center. The bonds they make and maintain with each other are important emotionally while also reinforcing their desire to be active.
What specific programs do you offer?
We have a variety of programs suited specifically for older adults and we adapt to needs within these programs. Though many older members participate in general classes, we also have specialty programs often used by them, such as hip and knee recovery, cardiac rehabilitation, and balance/falls prevention classes. We find our older adults tend to come in the late morning and afternoon, so we schedule more programs such as Gentle Stretch or Gentle Yoga at these times. We strive to make the programs adaptable.
What marketing strategies does your facility use to reach active aging adults?
The message targeted at aging adults is to stay physically active, healthy and involved as they age. We run specific media ads by age/demographic, ensuring age representation in our messaging and marketing materials. We are on various social media platforms but find emailing is the best means of making contact with older members. We keep in mind the readability of written material and follow accessibility standards. Industry jargon is avoided as is terminology that may have become common among young people but not the older population.
What is the biggest challenge you have run into when it comes to offering senior-specific programming?
We have not had anything in particular that has been a challenge. What is critical is not to label someone’s ability by their age. We have members in their 80s and 90s that are competing in master sports and younger adults who have poor fitness levels. We focus our programs for specific fitness levels and health issues, regardless of age.
Three tips for offering active aging adult programs:
1. Meaningful connection between staff and members and between members themselves is very important. A center like ours becomes a community, not just a building to exercise in individually.
2. Centers must ensure the facility is accessible — parking, wheelchair ramps, automatic doors, etc. — for those who are limited in mobility.
3. Teaching within a program must account for the capabilities of the participants. Their speed and range of movements can vary greatly and, if accommodated, will ensure their satisfaction with the programs.