It’s time to get back to the gym. Evidence suggests that people who get and stay fit during middle age can better avoid chronic illnesses in their later years.
Fitness centers are realizing the value of the fifty something patrons and adjusting their programs to appeal to those needs. Gym goers 55 and older are the fastest growing membership segment in the health club sector.
With more program options than ever before, 50+ patrons have the abilities to find a fitness club to suit their needs. To appeal to over 50 clients, many gyms offer yoga, spinning or pilates classes tweaked to a lower intensity. Classes are being made more accessible to people with physical limitations or who may need a longer adjustment time into physical fitness. Many fitness clubs even host Zumba classes which move at a slower pace, so everyone can get in on the Colombian-inspired fitness trend that mixes hip-hop, salsa, merengue, mambo, martial arts, and belly dancing.
Fitness centers across the country, are also offering discounts to those who are 62 and over and some clubs even offer discounts to those 55+ . With the average cost of a monthly gym membership at around $55, getting (and staying) in shape, can be incredibly cost effective. If your favorite club doesn’t list a discount, ask! Fitness clubs want your business and it’s on them to make an effort to work with you.
Your insurance company may also offer a discount option, with physical fitness being a cost effective alternative to doctor visits and prescriptions, many policies now offer a reduced rate, a discount on premiums, or a direct rebate for joining certain clubs.
There is also a growing number of centers solely dedicated to older clients, including Nifty After Fifty, a six-year-old chain with 26 locations in California, Arizona, Nevada, and Texas, and Curves, whose 9,000 locations in 35 countries serve women over 45. These gyms create a different, more welcoming atmosphere. Instead of pulsing pop music, Nifty After Fifty pumps plays music from the 50s and 60s.
Gyms designed for the over 50 population also have specialized equipment. Weight-and-pulley machines are not ideal for boomers, says Nifty After Fifty founder Dr. Sheldon Zinberg, because they can put too much stress on joints. In place of those machines, gyms of this nature offer pneumatic resistance equipment, which does not rely on weight stacks. These gyms also have fewer treadmills and more step machines and elliptical trainers.
For fitness seekers 65 and over, many gyms offer class franchise “Silver Sneakers”. These classes are available in most all ages gyms and cater to those looking for low intensity workouts that increase cardiovascular and muscular endurance. They offer upper-body strengthening workouts that use lighter hand held weights, elastic tubing and exercise balls for low impact aerobic choreography.
The gym environment is a more social environment with higher motivation potential. With classes and equipment geared to your needs, there’s nothing getting in the way of getting and staying physically fit after 50!