Silver Sneakers Program Helps Shatter Stereotypes

By: 
Judy Kramer
County Reporter
Kay Wingfield, of Warsaw, is nearing her 70th birthday, and couldn’t be a better example of physical fitness. In a recent gym competition she bench pressed 55 pounds, squatted 100 pounds, and dead lifted 145 pounds. She is one of millions of people in the U.S. on Medicare Advantage who are participating in Silver Sneakers, a free fitness program for senior citizens.
“Through Medicare and my supplemental insurance with Coventry, I have free access to the Warsaw Fitness gym,” said Wingfield. “I also am training five days a week with Brian Phillips, owner of the gym. It is like my job.”
Brian Phillips and his wife, Lindsy, have owned Warsaw Fitness for nearly four years and have from 65 to 100 members using the gym through the Medicare Silver Sneakers program. Phillips says that members can contact their insurance provider to see if they offer the program, and if so will be given a card to take to exercise facilities all over the country. They can even use it to take a shower at a gym, or go swimming in Clinton. He said that Silver Sneakers participants have free access to his gym and to Yoga classes that are held on Tuesdays at 6:30 PM. Warsaw Fitness is open for business 8 AM to 4 PM Monday through Friday, but members have access 24/7.
Integrated Fitness is another Warsaw facility that has roughly 50 to 75 members who exercise under the guidance of owner Randal Postel, a licensed trainer and coach. Member fees are covered by insurance companies such as Cigna, Humana, Aetna and Coventry.
“When they begin their fitness training, we go through an orientation and develop an individualized program,” said Postel. “I inquire about their medications, and try to determine if there are any red flags that need to be considered such as Diabetes so I can decide on the best exercises for them. A lot of people undergoing rehabilitation also come to the gym. I upgrade participants’ programs every four to six weeks and sometimes move from exercise to the use of weights and barbell training. We are open from 6 AM to 6 PM Monday through Fridays.”
The Warsaw Senior Center offers many activities that are covered under the Silver Sneakers plan. They include Pilates, Zumba, Line Dancing, and Exercise with Cyndee. Information is available by calling the Center at 660-438-3300.
The Benton County Health Department is always concerned about falling incidents among senior citizens. Balance exercises are known to help prevent falls, and can be part of a Silver Sneakers fitness regime.
Kay Wingfield said that she believes Medicare’s support of Silver Sneakers helps put a focus on improving health by going to a gym. She said that she began getting fit when she lost her son in 2008 and needed to find something to motivate her. 
When she was younger, she had crippling Rheumatoid Arthritis and is very happy with her present physical condition.  She said that she hopes her story will inspire others to begin exercising and getting healthier, and said that she would be glad to talk to anyone wanting more information about her fitness regimen and history at 816-377-7116.
“I am thinking of writing an article for AARP on my 70th birthday, and having a picture posted of me in a bikini,” said Wingfield.
Those interested in Silver Sneakers can check their eligibility at www.silversneakers.com/eligibility or call customer service at 1-877-402-6711, Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 8 PM EST.

Category: