Mila Gorman of Blue Bell feels like she has been working with a personal trainer at The Becoming Center forever. At 69 (although you wouldn't of guessed it by her youthful appearance), she has been exercising her whole life and has no plans of stopping.
"Working out clears your head of all the cobwebs and is very calming. It keeps me active and I just feel better," she explained.
More and more seniors like Gorman are focusing on staying active or are trying to get in shape after an injury. With the Baby Boomer population estimated to reach more than 70 million by 2030, the over 55 club continues to be the fastest growing segment of health club memberships. If you were to do a quick search online for "senior fitness," it may surprise you to see the many sites offering fitness instructor specialization in senior fitness education.
While many more studios, gyms and health clubs are offering specific classes for our older generation, The Becoming Center located on the campus of Artman in Ambler, Pa., is a community health and wellness center that caters to the 50+ crowd.
Jesse Habich, the director of The Becoming Center, told Philly.com that their philosophy is "Wellness for Life." "We emphasize the value in keeping moving and how it is never too late to get started. Staying fit helps make daily living easier with better range of motion and increase in functional strength."
"This is only place I know of that focuses on the 50+ population. Many seniors feel that there is no place for them. That is why I like working here," he added.
With class sizes of 15 to 30 people, the center offers a variety of classes in its exercise classroom and pool. There is a little something for everybody from the quiet contemplation of Tai Chi to the lively Cardio Interval class. In the pool which is always kept at a therapeutic 90 degrees and has a ramp and chair lifts, there are aquatic classes that teach flexibility and range of motion exercises developed by the Arthritis Foundation as well as water aerobics classes.
In a gym staffed by exercise physiologists, members can work out on cardio and strengthening equipment like circuit equipment, treadmills, and bikes. Free weights and therapy balls are also on hand. Staff focuses a lot on balance and core strength during personal training sessions.
Some members like Gorman who have exercised their whole life are able to just jump right in, but others need to ease into being more active. Habich explained that is why they offer different intensity levels and always provide a comprehensive evaluation which includes medical history and assessment of balance, gait, range of motion and muscle strength when a member first joins the center.
"Our instructors will help them get up to speed if they haven't worked out in a long time."
He added that half of their members sign up to stay active and to prevent injury as they get older while the other half come to them from physical therapy as they are trying to heal from an injury. Abington Rehabilitation rents space at the Center and their patients often stay at the center for post- rehabilitation.
Chris Moyer, the member services coordinator, has been with The Becoming Center for over 10 years and does a lot of personal training and post-rehabilitation. "I focus on ambulation, balance and strength training. It is awesome to see the difference in members as they progress and become more active," she said.
For Moyer, it is important to prevent the atrophy of muscles which can lead to injury. "Falls can happen," she cautioned.
At the Becoming Center, the mind and the spirit are as important as the body. Members can get a massage, do some meditation and take classes that focus on mental acuity like Cranium Crunch, an interactive brain aerobics class.
It's a fun place too. According to Moyer, members really enjoy the social environment of the center and often recruit their friends to join. Most days the lobby fills up quickly with members catching up and chatting before class.
Learn more about The Becoming Center here.