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Seniors Stay Fit and Have Fun Through Fitness Programs at Newcastle Place

Daily exercise is just one benefit to being a resident at Newcastle Place senior living community in Mequon, Wisconsin. Newcastle Place is a Life Plan Community that is all about living life to its fullest. This includes a robust fitness program with gyms on both the independent living campus and at The Highlands Health Center, where residents have access to assisted living, skilled nursing, rehabilitation services, and memory care.

Working the Whole Body

Newcastle Place offers a wide range of fitness classes and physical activities. Standard offerings include Stretch & Tone, balance and posture classes, and a water aerobics program.

Stretch & Tone is a 45-minute, standing and chair-based, full body workout for seniors. It includes resistance bands, hand weights, body weights, functional movements, and stretching. The water aerobics program is also a full-body workout that utilizes pool weights, noodles, gentler movements, and the benefits of being in water.

Newcastle Fitness Manager Patrick Gilbertson explained, “We have a beautiful pool in our Highlands Health Center that is always kept at 88 degrees. It’s considered a therapy pool. We do squats, lean back on noodles and work abs, the full spectrum.”

There is also a series of balance and posture classes that work the core muscles and help residents maintain good posture. “This class mixes sitting and standing, too, and really helps residents who are using walkers and wheelchairs as well as those who have or want to prevent certain postural issues, such as hunched shoulders and back,” said Patrick.

Uniquely Newcastle Place

Newcastle Place offers a unique resident-led yoga class and a Tai Chi class, led by a fitness staff member, which includes senior-specific movements.

Karen, a Newcastle Place resident and yoga instructor, began practicing yoga because of back issues. She said her back improvements, along with the meditation aspect of yoga, keeps her coming back for more. “Teaching yoga gives me the opportunity to practice it myself. Plus, I get to see the progression of the residents that participate. It’s always satisfying to see people doing things that they did not expect they could do – or perhaps wouldn’t do on their own – like the look on their face when they find out they can do a balancing pose they didn’t think was possible.”

As for the senior-focused Tai Chi, participants sit in a chair and learn the movements and correct form from an instructor, then stand and practice. Patrick shared, “This class is newer, and residents are really enjoying it. Rather than just mirroring the instructor from the beginning, we ensure they learn the correct form and can then execute what they learned.” According to Patrick, most Tai Chi classes are not taught in this format. “This [format] also keeps seniors confident knowing they learned it and can repeat it.”

There is a fully furnished fitness center attached to the pool area that offers treadmills, ellipticals, a NuStep recumbent cross trainer, free weights, and rigid motion machines – leg press, lat pulldown, row machine. “Our facilities also have a stretching table, so seniors don’t have to get all the way to the floor, and a bar to help those who use a walker to have a place to hold onto,” said Patrick.

Residents from memory care and skilled nursing as well as independent living visit the fitness centers regularly and even participate in one-on-one workouts geared to what they want to work on. “Residents have two complimentary personal training sessions available to them per week. Sometimes we may have an independent living resident whose spouse is in skilled nursing and we work it out so they can come work out together – obviously doing different things, but at the same time.”

Patrick and his team will even work in one-on-one pool appointments. “We have a few ladies who enjoying swimming, but who spend their entire days in wheelchairs. But when in the pool they are walking,” said Patrick. “It puts a big smile on their families’ faces to see that.”

Help To and From the Community

Newcastle’s management company, Life Care Services, offers an annual activity challenge to all of its communities in an effort to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association. “They donate $10,000 to Alzheimer’s if all of the communities participate in a certain number of hours or miles of deliberate exercise,” explained Patrick. “Newcastle Place always participates. This May we did what we call a 1k/5k, which was a resident-employee walk around campus. The residents walked 1k and the staff walked 5k, with all proceeds going toward Alzheimer’s research.”

The fitness center and Community Life Services department partner to offer regular health education programs. “We are lucky to have a hospital right across the road, so we have doctors come in and talk about signs of heart attacks – when they should call doctor, when to call the ER. We also offer a class by AAA on defensive driving for seniors,” said Patrick.

Fun For the Brain, Too

Patrick and his staff regularly work in fun to engage the residents in cognitive exercises along with the physical. “I will talk about my life, they will talk about theirs. On President’s Day I did President trivia. I’ve talked about Frank Sinatra and how old he would be if still alive today – people were trying to remember when he was born and do the math,” shared Patrick.

“I have a few residents who are early-stage Parkinson’s and I’ll make them count their reps. Research shows that it’s a good way to keep that brain power working while moving your body.”

“These aren’t young people who eat pizza one day and then work out hard the next day to work it off. Our seniors just want to enjoy their lives. We still get down to business, but we have fun along the way.” Patrick said that being an “open book” and engaging seniors with some fun trivia has helped grow the classes greatly since he came on board four years ago. Residents who used to come once or twice are now regulars.

“A 95-year-old woman comes to all of my classes and does one-on-one training with me. She came back from her great-granddaughter’s wedding and said that her entire family was so impressed that she was able to dance at the wedding,” shared Patrick. “She said she felt confident doing it and said it was because of me. But it’s because she works hard.”

Find out how you can get fit and have fun as a resident of Newcastle Place senior living community. Get in touch with us at 262-421-9050.

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