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Posted by Positive Aging Community on 04/05/2017

Fit For Life: Pine Run Retirement Community's Innovative Health & Wellness Program

Fit For Life: Pine Run Retirement Community's Innovative Health & Wellness Program

“Fit For Life” is the slogan that was created to embody the innovative and successful Health and Wellness Program supported by so many Pine Run Villagers. “Fit For Life” stands for Longevity, Independence, Function and Empowerment; these are the cornerstones of the program that is providing residents with new opportunities for personal growth and well-being, under the watchful and creative eyes of Co-Directors of Fitness, Maureen Goldsmith and Carol Nieto, who together bring decades of experience to the program.

Village resident, Ginny Cloonan, serves as an “unofficial” personal motivator for Maureen Goldsmith, who readily admits she never expected a Villager to be able to keep up with her, “but Ginny can out plank me any day of the week. She’s incredible!”

“People tell me they could never do what I do,” says Ginny, “but I tell them, if I can do it, you can do it. I’m 83 and I’ve raised seven children, but I was never what you’d call ‘athletic.’ The fitness program at Pine Run keeps me motivated, and I’m always surprising myself. It is truly never too late to get started – you just might surprise yourself, like I did!” shares a smiling Ginny.

“It’s our ‘golden moment’ when a resident tells us that they see improvement in their stamina and their balance, or when they tell us that they ‘really needed this,’ but just didn’t know it until they started our program,” adds Goldsmith. 

Betty Brennan is no stranger to Yoga. She had been practicing this ancient art for over three years before moving to Pine Run, but is delighted to be able to choose between Power Yoga, Chair Yoga, Restorative Yoga and Strength & Balance Classes on any given day. “I am learning to relax more easily; I am much more aware of the importance of breathing for my overall wellbeing,” beams Betty.

Maintaining the journey takes motivation! “We work hard to create an encouraging atmosphere that fosters fun and camaraderie, and we’ve seen a swell in participation,” notes Goldsmith. “Of course, we begin ‘courting’ new members the day they move into The Village, with letters and personal visits, inviting them to stop in the gym. We’re not terribly subtle about asking them to participate,” laughs Nieto, “and the members of our Fitness Program are shameless advocates!”

“Carol and I have been incorporating team challenges into our seasonal calendar, and the Villagers seem to love it. Last year we created a ‘virtual’ Appalachian Trail walk, and tallied every step of every team member; steps that took them from Maine to Georgia along this famous national hiking trail, some 2,200 miles in all. Last summer we also created our own version of the Olympics, and Rio de Janeiro had nothing on us!” laughs Goldsmith.

“Right now we’re playing BINGO,” explains Nieto. “We created cards where each square represents an activity and tempts participants to accomplish a fitness goal such as attending a Tai Chi class or biking one mile, or something as simple as ‘skipping a dessert.’ When a player achieves BINGO their card is entered into a drawing for prizes.”

“But our classes are never JUST about playing games,” stresses Goldsmith. “It’s all about setting individual standards of excellence, regardless of your starting point. It’s about realizing your potential, staying motivated and enjoying time spent with friends at the Fitness Center! Without that, people lose interest.”

Resident Bob Long has always been an “active-kind-of-guy” and considers himself to be in fairly good shape for a 78 year old, but since joining the “Fit For Life” Program at Pine Run, he’s noticed that his strength and balance are both improving. “When I skip a day or two, I can feel myself becoming stiff…and that’s the last thing I want happening at this stage of my life. Walking the family’s yellow lab was just not doing it for me, and the Fitness Program is really ‘raising the-bar’ on my personal level of fitness,” smiles Bob.

Villagers Paul and Carol Bain have only lived at Pine Run for a few months, so they’re new to the circuit, and both are especially interested in the Strength and Balance sessions. “We walk the perimeter of Pine Run every day; just like we used to walk every day in our old neighborhood,” notes Paul.

“We now have easy access to a wider variety of fitness and exercise options, and we’re enjoying the social elements as well,” explains Carol. “We are meeting members of the community who are also participating in the programs, and it’s helping us to feel more ‘settled-in’ in our new retirement home. We are making new friends while we continue to improve our overall well-being.”

“We also carefully incorporate practical components into our fitness techniques,” says Nieto. “Suppose you trip or fall, will you be able to get up? A strong core along with agility training such as Yoga and Tai Chi improve your balance, and strengthening your muscles can support your efforts to get back on your feet.”

“Our message is all about setting individual standards of excellence, regardless of your starting point,” affirms Goldsmith. “We just add a large dose of fun to help promote the vision that ‘Age is NOT the limiter; INACTIVITY is!’”

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