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Fond of Fitness

When I saw the article in the USA Weekend magazine in my newspaper about senior's fitness,  with 73 year old Jane Fonda, it reminded me of how important the fitness element is on my activities calendar. It is an area, that fortunately, I have a fitness director's assistance with. Together we work towards giving the residents a variety of opportunities to exercise. I plan outings where there is walking involved, (and I do mention the need to be an "able walker" when I promote the outing), dances, and more. The Fitness Director plans classes for all level of senior adults. We have a video that the residents love that is simply a homemade video of a resident leading a chair class from many moons ago... that they will not stop doing, no matter how many new DVDs we bring in. We have a tai chi instructor who leads a modified class that includes some chair stretches; water aerobics, during the warmer months; walking outings along the beach or at a local park; and a few other classes that use hand weights, therabands and rings. There are also times in the Fitness Center when the instructor is there to  teach people how to use the equipment or set them up with a plan. And I can not forget Wii Bowling.  Do you all use a Wii for fitness in your community?  I know that there is a Wii Fit game, but not sure how to incorporate it into the schedule so that a class can use it. I'd love to hear if you have any suggestions!

Along with those classes and outings, the independent living residents (and some personal care/assisted living) in our retirement community also have fun and get fit with some annual events. Since the company that I work for has three communities that are close to each other, we compete against each other in these events. Each community has their own color, and they were it proudly at these annual events with specially made t-shirts and pom poms.

Our biggest event is our Senior Sports Day. It consists of approximately 15 different events, hosts about 250 competitors, and runs over three days because some event take a while to get through and residents want to play in multiple events. There is a putting contest, shuffleboard, boccie bowling, bean bag toss, race walk, ping pong, billiards, Ladderballswimming, and more.  After all the events are played, we have lunch and an awards ceremony. Individuals get a ribbon for winning 1st, 2nd or 3rd place. The community gets a trophy based on the number of points it earns. (Each 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winner earns points for the team.)

We also have other events that are fitness driven, such as a Poker Walk. The residents get together and walk at their own pace. They go along the path and find stations where they pick up a playing card from the deck. The selected card is written down on a slip of paper that they carry with them. The paper is designed so that there is a column for each suite (spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs). The card they take is written under the correct column. At the end of the walk, the person with the best poker hand wins. You don't even have to know how to play poker to win! And there is no gambling either... unless you want to add that, but it is a no-no in my community. Decorations for this are easy. Red and black, card theme.....
 And, I will share one more with you now.... as this post seems to be getting a bit long. The "newest" event that we tried was a fishing tournament. We had a lot of neigh-sayers in the community for many different reasons, such as "there aren't enough men here to do something like that and the ladies won't want to get involved, we are not sure if there are fish in the lake or not, what if they don't catch any because we are using the wrong bait, hooks, etc?"  Well, let me tell you that we've done this twice now, and it is a successful event. It is definitely one of those that we could not do if the maintenance staff did not help us. They help by bring poles from home and providing the bait and hooks for us. (They are reimbursed for any expense they have for the event.) A few of the maintenance men are allowed to come outside with the residents and spend time putting the bait on the hooks for them and even helping the resident cast the line into the water. Of course, when a fish is caught, they are there also to celebrate the occasion, help record the catch and get the fish back into the water quickly. The residents really enjoy this time with the guys and I think the residents have fun with the staff.  A tent and chairs are provide by the lake for those who want to watch the action. Extra chairs are available so the resident can take one to the spot on the lake where they want to fish. And bottles of water are available for everyone.  Prizes are awarded for the biggest fish caught, the littlest fish caught and the most fish caught. One year, we had a fish fry lunch for those who participated. This past year, we did a entire fish theme party and served the community the fish dinner, decorated in fish theme and invited the residents to dress as a fisherman, sailor, etc. It was a lot of fun.
Do you have an interesting fitness program that you would like to share? Feel free to click the pencil at the bottom of this post and add you comments. The more we share, the better we will be at our jobs as Activities Directors, and the better quality of life we can provide to our residents.

Also, check out the Activities Director's Store. It has some good resources for your fitness program. You will find it under the "Browse by Category" link on the right side of the page.

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