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Encouraging Residents To Stay Fit During COVID-19 – Just Keep Moving!

April 22, 2020

Social distancing doesn’t have to mean inactivity. At Westminster Communities of Florida’s 10 active living communities, fitness teams are sharing a common objective: Keep residents fit and active during a pandemic.

From filming videos of their wellness classes to conducting classes that residents can participate in from their balconies or their front doors at a safe distance, our teams are working hard to provide residents every opportunity to stay fit and safe.

 “We’re trying hard to do things differently from how we’ve done them before,” said Director of Resident Experience Mario DeLuca. “We all share the common goal of keeping the residents active and engaged.”

Wellness teams are filming fitness classes and providing the videos to residents on the exclusive MyWLife app, on YouTube, and even airing them throughout the day on the in-house television station.

“We have 20 videos ranging from chair yoga to cardio low-impact, standing stretches and yoga poses, balance class, sculpt and tone, and how to walk with Nordic poles,” said Jeri Jo Fox, Fitness Coordinator at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek in Jacksonville. “We’re keeping them busy with a variety of exercises.”

Fox said that anyone can look on YouTube or pop in a fitness video, but it may be an unfamiliar routine or instructor. By creating our own videos with exercises appropriate to our residents’ fitness level, Westminster communities can offer residents the familiarity with instructors and exercises they already enjoy.

“The residents would rather take classes with our staff than just find somebody else’s videos,” DeLuca said. “They know and trust our staff. So by creating our own content, the residents can enjoy the experience they’re familiar with, and a sense of caring and togetherness.”

Westminster Woods on Julington Creek resident Bill Snell participates in the virtual balance class twice a week. “It basically keeps you going to the point where you don’t lose anything you’ve gained along the way,” Snell said. “It’s very easy to sit back on your butt and do nothing and use this as an excuse to say, ‘Well, I can’t do this now because they’re not offering it.’ They are offering it and we can do it.”

Westminster Baldwin Park Fitness Assistant Kaila Varano leads classes that residents join by coming out on their balconies. “We wanted to continue to offer this service to them, so we had to really think outside of the box and get creative and that’s what we came up with,” Varano said.

“We’ve built up a great wellness culture here that people really want to be a part of,” said Westminster Winter Park Fitness Coordinator Jason Morgan. He and his team lead classes at eight locations around their community for residents to participate in. “It’s not only about the physical exercise, it’s about the culture we’ve created here, the social component, and all of that. They all come out on their balconies and they feel like they can see their neighbors and wave to them.”

Each said that the outcome has been exceptional and attendance has gone up. “It took a global pandemic to get so many people out and exercising,” Varano said. “Yesterday, I had a class that was a record. There were 20 people there and I was thrilled. It’s so exciting to see more people come out.”

“We’re capturing a lot of people who didn’t come to classes before,” Morgan said. “Those who may be curious about what’s going on because everybody else is doing it, maybe because they’re bored, whatever it is, they are coming out and joining in as well.”

What’s the best way for older adults to stay fit during quarantine? Our wellness teams say the best way is to just keep moving.

“Keep moving at all costs, that’s it,” Morgan said, “Find a way to stay active, whether it’s through our videos or it’s your own program, something you’ve carried over from physical therapy, whatever it is, you have to keep moving.

Varano recommends finding a way to move that you enjoy. “Exercise does not have to be punishing, it does not have to be this thing that you don’t look forward to. Find something that you love to do when it comes to movement and stick to that.”

To learn more about the variety of wellbeing opportunities you can enjoy at a Westminster community, contact us now or call (800) 948-1881 today.

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