In 2019, Greenspring, an Erickson Living-managed community in Springfield, Va., commenced a multiyear renovation of its on-campus fitness and aquatics center, doubling in size and bringing in new, state-of-the art equipment. As construction proceeds, residents enjoy full use of the current fitness center and a variety of expertly led group classes.
"Exercising and getting physically fit is one of the top New Year's resolutions," says Greenspring Wellness Director Brad Hibbs. "Fortunately, our residents enjoy the resources to keep those resolutions and stick to their resolve all year round."
Among the most popular of Greenspring's group exercise offerings are a series of balance and strength classes designed to help build core strength while increasing flexibility and balance. Currently, the wellness team provides beginner, intermediate, and advanced balance classes.
"Taking the balance class is the single, best thing I've done since moving to Greenspring," says Carol Tippett, who moved to the community four years ago. "The 16-session class teaches an awareness of your body that is life changing. I think everyone should take the class."
Fighting the odds
According to a 2016 study conducted by the National Institutes of Health's Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, "Those who participate in fitness and mobility exercise programs are more than 50% less likely to fall."
The Greenspring balance classes focus on a variety of exercises specifically designed to build better balance.
"When my husband John and I moved to Greenspring, we jumped with both feet into the fitness center offerings," says Marie Lee. "I found that attending the balance class helped me be more confident in my body and made me more mindful of my movement and muscles."
"I was really struggling with my balance and had a few falls," says John. "That scared me. Marie suggested I go to the balance class, and it has made such a difference in my life. I now supplement the class by working out in the fitness center. I feel that if I had not taken the class, I might need help now getting around. Instead, I've graduated to the advanced class!"
Moving to Greenspring last summer, Norma Christie eagerly signed up for the balance class just weeks after arriving on campus.
"It's something that I knew was important and I always wanted to do," she says. "I was thrilled to see that classes were available. One of the things we learn is how to react and what to do if we start to fall. The day after learning that in class, my foot caught in my purse strap and I started to fall. I knew to take a large step forward, and I avoided an accident."
Whether taking the balance class or working out in the fitness center, Greenspring community members credit the dedicated wellness staff for helping them achieve their fitness goals.
"We continue to go back to the fitness center because we've made the commitment to our health," says Marie. "But the experience is so much greater thanks to the excellent fitness staff. They treat us like family. They are well educated and make the classes and workouts fun and enjoyable. There is something about looking at a smiling face that makes a big difference. They know and care about us and show us every day."
"[The fitness staff] are so patient with everyone, no matter their level of fitness," says John. "They are like loving parents, always offering encouragement."
Carol agrees. "I can't believe there is a community anywhere with the quality of fitness center staff as we have here at Greenspring," she says. "They are all fabulous. They encourage you to do what you can but never more than you should."
With the New Year on the horizon, the wellness team hopes that other residents will take advantage of the opportunity to improve their balance and make physical fitness a priority.
"So many people tell me they never thought in a million years that they would be working out, and now they can't imagine not having exercise in their lives," says Wellness Coordinator Juanita Kuntz, who, along with Lisa Boorom and Marla Masakayan, lead the balance classes. "The hardest part is getting started, taking the leap. But once you arrive, you will have so much fun, all while learning the tools to improve your physical fitness and overall health."
"It's an investment in the future that pays high dividends," says John.