Silver Sneakers steps in with exercise fit for socializing seniors


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Silver Sneakers participants exercise with balls to increase their agility under the guidance of instructor Terry Bauer at Pro Fitness Merritt Island.

Wendy Scheuring

Many Brevard County seniors enjoy gathering to exercise and socialize in Silver Sneakers classes.

“We average about 30 seniors in the class,” said Lou Manley, the owner of Fitness Club Merritt Island. “We have more during the winter now that we have the snowbirds.”

Silver Sneakers instructor Terry Bauer said humans can continue to build muscle well into their 90s.

The classes are geared to participants ages 65 and older. However, Bauer has worked with people with Multiple Sclerosis, some using wheelchairs or walkers, or recovering from surgery.

“Most of the people in my class are in pretty good condition,” Bauer said. “If someone needs to sit, they can do that. People with wrist or shoulder issues use a lighter weight. We also use resistance bands and these are as effective as the hand-held weights and imitate some of the machines in the gym. We end with guided meditation and deep breathing to bring everyone back down.”

“This class gets you moving everything,” said Jean Sullivan, 82, of Merritt Island. “You breathe, sweat and have fun.”

“You always learn something new,” said Donna Biondi of Merritt Island.  “I had cancer and two major surgeries. This class helped me get back in the groove on the inside.”

“This class is good for our internal physical problems as well,” said Margaret Kennedy of Merritt Island. “I was recovering from fourth stage cervical cancer. Then, I found Terry, and I’ve been going gangbusters. She encourages us and keeps us laughing.”

Bauer has been teaching at Club Fitness Merritt Island for the past eight years.

Fifteen years ago, she received a devastating diagnosis of morbid obesity and Type II Diabetes.

She saw it as a wake-up call to make a life change.

She hired a personal trainer, lost 100 pounds, and reversed her diabetes diagnosis. Then, she decided to become a personal trainer and earned a plethora of fitness training certifications, including Silver Sneakers, yoga, and, interestingly, trauma-sensitive yoga.

Bauer said Silver Sneakers is more than an exercise class. It’s also like being with family.

“When my husband died, people from my class showed up to help me move,” she said.

Silver Sneakers classes are available nationwide. Snowbirds, for example, can take the class in their home state, then maintain their exercise regimen when they visit Florida.

In addition, “Silver Sneakers partners with 60 health plans across the nation to offer classes at no additional cost,” according to silversneakers.com.

“It’s fun and it helps you. We do cardio, stretching, strength. There’s everything in one program. The exercise is at a level where you’re tired but not dead,” said Frank Merceret of Merritt Island who spoke of a shoulder injury. “The teacher encourages us to do what works for us. It’s a mind-body class. There’s no competition.”

Go to silversneakers.com to find a location near you. For more information about classes at Pro Fitness Silver Sneakers, call 321-455-2227.

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