A gym for the 65-and-over crowd: Senior participants break a sweat at UMHS’s Functional Fitness class; one of program’s first-ever participants turns 100
In between chats with friends and quips with her fitness trainer, Margaret Rookes spent a recent morning walking on the treadmill, stepping on a NuStep and leg pressing 100 pounds.
When it comes to maintaining her three-times-a-week, 75-minute workout routine, Margaret makes no excuses – not even the fact that she just turned 100 years old.
Watch Margaret in action on Channel 4 Detroit!
“I wouldn’t be in this condition if I didn’t come here,” says Margaret, sporting white sneakers while switching between strength and cardiovascular machines and stretching exercises. “It’s kept me moving. It’s kept me young.”
At age 89, Margaret was one of the first three participants to enroll in the Functional Fitness for Older Adults class that started at the University of Michigan Health System more than a decade ago. The class, which is offered by the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation for people age 65 and over, has since grown to more than 60 gym-goers.
For Margaret, the class offers a social outlet and place to connect with peers while improving her strength, balance, endurance and mobility – components that typically decline with age and can pose major health risks for older adults.
She says the class kept her so fit that at age 95, she was able to take a trip back to Bermuda – her home of five years in the 1930’s where she waitressed after college and met her late husband. Along with her daughter and son-in-law, she was able to visit all of her favorite landmarks and even walk up and down the 39-flight of stairs that took her from her beach cottage to the ocean.
“There’s no getting around it – I’m old,” says Margaret, sitting near a photo from her recent birthday celebration that pictures her with a bottle of sparkling cider under the caption “still partying at 100.” “Coming here is good for my body and mind. It gives me a reason to get out of bed every day. My doctor told me ‘whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.’”
The eight-week Functional Fitness For Older Adults class is intended to combat the detrimental physical and cognitive effects of aging such as muscle loss, worsened posture and balance, memory loss, bone loss and arthritis. After getting their doctor’s clearance, attendees are offered on-going instruction on exercise equipment in the PM & R’s Transitions Studio, which includes strengths, treadmills, bikes, elliptical bands and balls. Participants are also introduced to home exercises.
“This is about helping older adults get stronger and more confident in an effort to improve their quality of life,” says health educator Britt Michel, CSCS, director of UMHS’s Transitional Therapy Programs. “Everyone has different goals. Some want to be able to keep up with their grandkids or enjoy travel, while others want to simply climb a flight of stairs or work in their garden with greater ease.
“Margaret is a great example of how to live life to its fullest – even at 100.”
Margaret, who formerly worked at the U-M School of Dentistry, has battled several health issues, including high blood pressure, cancer and sciatica. She says her physician credits her exercise program for helping reduce some prescription medications.
“I think a lot of people think they’re too old to start going to the gym but they’re not. You’re never too old,” Margaret says. “I started at age 89 and kept going until 100 and look, I’m still here.”
More on Functional Fitness:
Classes meet for 75 minutes twice a week with sessions offered Mondays through Thursdays at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m. or 1 p.m. All participants have access to the studio on Fridays from 8 a.m. to noon during the eight weeks.
The initial cost is $175 for eight weeks, which includes an exercise interview/consult, fitness assessment, equipment orientation and eight weeks of classes (twice a week) with supervision. Renewal cost is $100.
More details here: http://www.med.umich.edu/pmr/patient/classes.htm
For more information call (734) 232-1262 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.