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Photo: Courtesy of the Mayflower - An upgraded gym facility at the Mayflower Retirement Community in Winter Park harnesses the power of air resistance to make workouts safer for seniors.
Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015 4 years ago

Retirement community gym uses air-resistance to get fit safely

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Seniors get fit safely
by: Allison Olcsvay

In a brightly lit, mirror-lined room with expansive lake views, a group of ladies gather for their weekly Zumba class. Among them, Nancy Klingler, 70, a confessed lover of Broadway, pretends that she is rehearsing for the next big show.

“I love to pretend that I am on stage, practicing my dance steps and preparing for opening night,” Klingler said.

The backdrop for Klingler’s pseudo production is the new high-tech gym that opened last year at The Mayflower Retirement Community in Winter Park.

The 1,250-square-foot complex is home to group classes like Zumba and Yoga, as well as the usual array of fitness equipment like weights, a rowing machine, stair-steppers, treadmills and stationary bikes.

At first glance, the new space looks like a typical gym, with one key exception: all of the machines in this gym feature advanced pneumatic technology – using air resistance instead of weights – specially designed with the needs of mature adults in mind.

The adjustable settings on each piece of equipment make it simple to customize workouts to the individual users’ needs and preferences. Resistance is determined by air pressure rather than weights, making the machines easy on joints, said Mayflower Wellness Coordinator Sarah Burke.

On their first visit to the new gym, residents receive a fitness evaluation in which Burke goes over their goals, current health issues and develops a custom program based on individual needs and desires.

She explains how the machines work and which settings will provide optimal benefit, so there is no guess work on the part of the residents.

“Since opening, we’ve seen a significant increase in usage – with an average of 25 to 30 residents working out daily,” Burke said.

Residents like Jack Williamson, who’s been plagued by high blood pressure for years, have also seen significant increases in their fitness and wellbeing.

Williamson began a three day-a-week workout routine with Burke in September and suddenly, his blood pressure was consistently too low.

On the advice of his doctor, he backed off his medication until he no longer needed any at all. For the past three months, Williamson has maintained his perfect blood pressure with nothing more than his thrice-weekly exercise routine.

“I feel great with less medications and some flab turning to muscle,” Williamson said.

Whether seniors have access to the high-tech gym or not, Burke said there’s certain workout tips anyone can adopt to help further their fitness goals.

She recommends seniors beginning a new fitness routine set small, attainable goals.

“If your goal is to walk a mile, start by walking five minutes a day, five days a week until that feels comfortable, then increase slowly until you reach your goal,” Burke said.

She suggests that seniors find an activity that they enjoy and finding ways to add variety to stay motivated.

“If you like dancing, Zumba is a great way to work out and make new friends,” she said.

Speaking of friends, Burke says working out with a partner is very important, for motivation and for safety.

And, she said, the end of a workout is just as important as the beginning. “Proper warm up and cool down pre- and post-exercise will help prevent injury,” she said.

While Nancy Klingler is busy preparing for the Broadway debut of her dreams during her weekly Zumba class, she’s employing all of Burke’s tips without thinking twice about it.

“I’m so busy enjoying the view and making new friends, I get extra exercise without even thinking about it,” Klingler said.

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