As we age, the body’s natural ability to stay healthy declines. More conscious effort is needed to stay healthy and fit. This is where the three pillars of health come in: sleep, diet and exercise.
Apart from sleep and diet, exercise is one of the best ways to keep your body and mind fit. Joining a gym is a great idea to keep up on your exercise routines. But as a senior, do you have any extra benefits that you could claim? Any gym discounts? Or free gym passes? Turns out there is one way you could get a free pass to the gym and keep yourself busy with the equipment.
It is possible to enroll yourself in a gym for free with the help of SilverSneakers program, a free program that gives you free access to certain gyms under certain Medicare or other insurance plans. Let us learn more about it.
Gym Benefits For Seniors
There are numerous benefits to joining a gym and this goes for people of all ages. It goes especially well for seniors. Here are some benefits that seniors derive from joining a gym:
- It has been proven through multiple studies that regular exercise helps lift your mood. And the story is no different for seniors.
- Exercise definitely helps keep body fat away. It promotes the secretion of right hormones that keep you fit and at the same time also keep the blood sugar level low.
- The chances of developing certain health conditions grows as you grow older. Conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, and heart disease can have their development slowed with regular exercise (Mayo Clinic).
- Gyms these days also have a social aspect to them. You can find and make new friends, exercise together and socialize to beat loneliness.
The SilverSneakers Program – Reduced/Free Gym Memberships Through Medicare or Insurance
We have to learn about Medicare Advantage first. Medicare Advantage (MA for short) is a part of Medicare offered by private companies in the US. Medicare Advantage plans are offered to people of ages 65 and above and also to disabled adults who qualify.
The plans generally cover hospital bills and prescription drugs, also they come bundled with access to SilverSneakers- which most people don’t know about!
The SilverSneakers program offers many different types of health and fitness services to its members (which you are, if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan). They have live online fitness classes, on-demand videos, and access to thousands of gyms across the country. This is why SilverSneakers is great for you if you, as a senior, are looking for free access to gyms. There is absolutely no additional cost to accessing a gym through the SilverSneakers program. All you need to have is a valid Medicare Advantage plan.
Perhaps you’ve heard of ‘Active & Fit Direct’– a program where the insurance company provides its’ members with gym memberships anywhere for $25/month. (If you don’t qualify for Medicare due to age or other circumstances, you might want to check that out! Here’s a link to my article about it). This program, SilverSneakers, is very similar. It allows you to gain membership access to many gyms free of charge through the insurance company.
What’s The Catch – Why Do They Let Us Have a Free Membership?
I’m assuming if you’re reading this article you’re probably a little older and a lot wiser. You understand that many things in the world are scams- and you also understand that nothing is truly ‘free’.
So, what’s the catch with SilverSneakers? Why are we getting a ‘free’ membership?
Well, the catch here isn’t really a bad one at all. If you’re healthier, your chance of developing serious injuries and health issues declines significantly. This means the insurance company (Medicare/the US Government) actually saves a ton of money because you’re hospitalized far less, and if you are hospitalized it will likely cost a lot less too.
Imagine you don’t exercise and your bones become very weak and you have a fall- which can happen to us at this age. You can have a serious injury and be hospitalized for weeks and have a very expensive surgery which can cost the insurance company nearly $100,000.
However, imagine if you fall and you have been exercising. First of all, the chance of falling is significantly reduced if you regularly exercise (Journal of American Geriatrics, 2016). There is also a much higher chance you may only get some bruising and you won’t even have to go to the hospital.
So- the insurance giving you a free gym membership- which costs them ultimately around $30/month- will save them hundreds of thousands of dollars down the road.
So, yes, the answer is money (isn’t it always?). The insurance company saves a ton of money in the long run if you exercise regularly. So, yes- there’s a catch- but it isn’t that bad of a catch at the end of the day. The healthier you are, the more money they save. And I don’t think any of us want to be in the hospital.
Free Gyms for Seniors
As we mentioned earlier, many gyms have partnered with the SilverSneakers program to provide free access to seniors. Let us learn about such gyms below.
Planet Fitness – #1 Gym for Seniors
Planet Fitness participates in the SilverSneakers program, so you can use your Medicare Advantage plan to access their locations. Note that not all locations accept SilverSneakers so you should check first.
Planet fitness is famed for having gyms across many countries. Their locations have a relaxed and positive environment which suits seniors quite well. One disadvantage is that Planet fitness does not offer one-on-one personal training, but they do have qualified trainers to help you get started. Other than that, you can take many different classes to your liking which will help you on your fitness journey.
- Visit The Anytime Fitness Website Here!
- Read: Anytime Fitness Review
- Read: Anytime Fitness vs Planet Fitness
As their name suggests, Anytime Fitness gyms are open 24/7, so you can walk in for your routine at any time. This is especially good for seniors who might only find time at certain hours of the day. Anytime Fitness is a big franchise so you will have easy location access though most locations do not offer amenities such as a swimming pool or group classes.
It’s a very good gym for just about anything- stretching, yoga, mobility, or even some light resistance training if you’re up for it. I think what most folks find great is that Anytime Fitnesses are found basically everywhere since they are a ‘franchised gym’- meaning someone in the local community operates it. This means that there are tons of Anytime Fitness locations, even in small cities!
But if all you are looking for is a basic gym membership, Anytime Fitness might be the perfect choice for you. They do offer yoga and strength-based classes which you might enjoy and help improve your flexibility which is quite the need in old age. If you are unsure where to start, get in touch with any of Anytime’s qualified trainers to get started.
LA Fitness – Big Community, Pool
- Visit the LA Fitness Website!
- Read: Planet Fitness vs LA Fitness
LA fitness is one of the biggest fitness chains in the US. LA fitness has been a long-standing participating member of the SilverSneakers program. They offer a wide range of facilities and many exclusives for seniors.
You’ll find their gyms are neat and tidy with a relaxing environment. Most locations are spacious and big enough that you don’t feel hemmed in and can relax and exercise at your pace. LA Fitness has locations across the US and it is easy to find one near you. It is highly recommended to check them out if you are looking for a classic gym experience.
This is the gym you’re looking for if you’re the type looking for pools, a big community, and just about anything you can imagine. (Some locations even have hot tubs and spas!)
Onelife fitness is a chain of gyms across the US typically seen on the eastern-southern coast. They are a part of the SilverSneakers program, so they provide free access to seniors. Although they are primarily based in the Mid-Atlantic region, you should consider joining them if you find one near you.
They have all the equipment you could ever need. So get in and exercise all you want. Speaking of features exclusive to seniors, Onelife fitness offers senior-friendly classes designed specifically for the aged. In case you would like a custom workout routine planned for you, get in touch with one of their personal trainers. Moreover, many Onelife locations have pools, so you can indulge in swimming workouts if you so wish.
As a senior, you can benefit greatly from a gym. We already discussed a bunch of such benefits above. And obviously, you don’t have to break your bank doing it. With the SilverSneakers program we mentioned, it is practically free of cost to get started with a gym. Try one of the gyms we mentioned above to start getting healthier today!