We have put on our sneakers and taken a spin through Medicare’s Silver Sneakers Fitness program. Designed for those 65 years and older, Medicare provides an option for seniors to not only get fit and stay in shape, but to socialize with others who want to do the same.

silver sneakers fitness: old person working out in the gym


What Is Silver Sneakers?

Man with barbell in silver sneakers

With all the baby boomers out there, and for those who will follow, Medicare has bought forth the Silver Sneakers fitness program. It’s designed to improve the physical, mental and emotional health of older Americans. You can get started towards better health when you select the program with your Medicare benefits options. Silver Sneakers offers benefits and services through a multi-pronged approach.

  • ​Access
  • ​Classes
  • ​Resources
  • ​Added value
  • ​Variety

​Silver Sneakers provide education and motivation through extensive learning and expansive social media outreach.


Silver Sneakers: Product Specs

Man with dumbells

Medicare participants have the option to enroll in Medicare part C, also known as Medicare Advantage plans or in the Medigap plan. The Silver Sneakers Fitness program may be selected through these plans. Once selected, participants can choose from a variety of options.

​Silver Sneakers Classic

​Silver Sneakers Circuit

​Silver Sneakers Cardio Fit

​Silver Sneakers Yoga

​Silver Sneakers Splash

​Silver Sneakers Stability

​Water in Motion

​Boom Series


Silver Sneakers: Pricing

Silver Sneakers is an optional program offered through Medicare. Medicare C, also known as the Medicare Advantage plan, is an option that you can select to help you pay for things that Medicare Part A and Part B do not cover. This plan is managed by insurance companies approved by Medicare. Medicare Advantage health plans are similar to private health insurance plans, in that those premiums, costs and restrictions vary by location. The only way to know what your cost will be is to examine your individual situation to determine eligibility, cost, and health and fitness center provider participation.


How It Compares

​We picked a few similar fitness programs available on the market to see how they compare.

  • ​24 Hour Fitness
  • ​Silver & Fit
  • ​ACE Fitness

Silver Sneakers

Silver Sneakers logo

Price

Depends on eligibility.


Classes​

Exceptional variety and quality of classes adjusted to meet the needs of every user.


Membership

Limited to Medicare participants who qualify and choose the Medicare Advantage option.


Resources

Over 15,000 locations nationwide. Equipment depends on location.

PROS 

  • ​Variety of programs and classes
  • ​Over 15,000 locations
  • ​Individualized classes
  • ​Excellent online resources
  • ​Cost included in Medicare benefits

​ CONS

  • ​Medicare participants only
  • ​Cost determined by Medicare service area
  • ​Limited class space
  • ​Equipment depends on location
  • ​Social media needed to get full use of everything offered

24 Hour Fitness

24 Hour Fitness logo

These fitness centers stay open 24 hours a day to accommodate everyone’s schedule. They help members take the first and hardest step towards improved health by offering a community-like atmosphere. Professional trainers work with members to develop an individualized program to meet their needs. Members can upgrade their membership to gain more club access. 24 Hour Fitness offers a variety of programs and we have broken these down for you below.

 


​24Go Custom Workout App

​GX24 Studio Classes

​Personal Training

​TC24 Small Group Training

​High-Performance Training

​Kid’s Club

​24Life

​Fit: Perks Rewards


Price

A bit pricey, given the restrictions.


Classes

Exceptional variety and quality of classes adjusted to meet the needs of every user.


Membership

Required to pay dues whether or not you attend. Freezing membership is at the discretion of 24 Hour Fitness. Cancellation and refund restrictions apply. Not free to move between program levels.


Resources

​Only 400 locations nationwide. Excellent, clean up-to-date equipment. Quality online resources.


PROS 

  • ​Variety of classes
  • ​Excellent equipment
  • ​Family add-ons
  • ​Individualized classes
  • ​Childcare
  • ​Free three-day pass
  • ​Excellent online resources

​ CONS

  • ​Only 400 locations nationwide
  • ​Fee requirements
  • ​Restrictive membership freezes
  • ​Restricted movement between program levels
  • ​Social media needed to get full benefits

Silver & Fit

Silver & Fit logo

Silver & Fit is a program designed for older adults by American Specialty Health. It’s designed to improve the physical, mental and emotional health of older Americans. Older adults on Medicare may be able to qualify to join Silver& Fit through their Medicare Advantage program. Other health plans may offer membership to some members. Some plans may require an enrollment fee. The benefits of joining include access to a variety of facilities, a home fitness program, a resource library and three defined perks. They offer the following programs:


​Fitness Facility Program

​Home Fitness Program

​Resource Library

​Fitness Challenges

​Silver & Fit Connected

​Rewards Program


Price

​Some health plans may require fees; Blue Cross of Idaho charges $50 per year.


Classes​

​Hard to find convenient information without being asked to enroll or call.


Membership

​Limited to Medicare participants who qualify and choose the Medicare Advantage option. Some health plans offer membership as well.


Resources

​Unable to discover the number of locations unless type in zip code. Equipment depends on location.


PROS 

  • ​Variety of programs and classes
  • ​Home fitness program
  • ​Four types of gyms and facilities to choose from
  • ​Cost included in Medicare benefits

​ CONS

  • ​Medicare participants and over 65’s only
  • ​Cost determined by Medicare /health plan service area
  • ​Horrible public domain online resources
  • ​Equipment depends on location
  • ​Social media needed to get full use of everything offered

ACE Fitness​​​​​

ACE Fitness​​​​​ logo

ACE fitness is not an organization designed to help individuals and groups achieve and maintain their health care goals. It is an organization that trains and certifies personal trainers. Certification for trainers is accredited by the NCCA; education is based on the ACE Integrated Fitness Training Model. ACE offers four certifications; personal trainer, group fitness instructor, health coach and medical exercise specialist.


Price

​There are three personal trainer study programs ranging from $500-$1000.


Classes​

​The Pro Essentials course is a self-guided study. The Pro Plus adds to the basic course and offers material in hard copy. The Pro-Advantage course offers materials from the previous two courses plus a certification exam retest voucher and e-book versions of their manuals.


Membership

​Membership means being part of the certified professional trainer community


Resources

​There are plenty of online courses, specialist programs, workshops and events, live webinars and other online materials.


PROS 

  • ​Nationally accredited certification
  • ​Study at your own pace
  • ​Plenty of resources
  • ​Cost is reasonable
  • ​Career centers help with starting practice

​ CONS

  • ​No brick and mortar location
  • ​No internship or apprentice opportunities


​Conclusion

Silver Sneakers wins hands down with five stars. First of all, the availability and ease-of-use of the online information makes this program the logical place for information seekers to go when they have trouble accessing information such as cost, location and programs. Add to that the fact that Silver Sneakers have over 15,000 locations, and one-stop shopping for information on the Medicare website. Although there is no way to advertise what the cost will be, Medicare participants have Medicare information at hand and can find out for themselves easily enough. It’s not just that Silver Sneakers is the most popular seniors' program out there; they have a well-rounded and comprehensive package of programs and classes that can be individualized according to need.

Silver & Fit embraces those members who need to practice their health and fitness program at home with their home fitness program. For those over 65 who are not Medicare recipients, the Silver & Fit program is offered by some other health plans such as Blue Cross Blue Shield and CIGNA. Some health plans however, will charge beneficiaries fees to participate in the program. Silver & Fit falls absolutely falls flat in terms of their advertising and the availability of detailed information.

Both Silver Sneakers and Silver & Fit target the geriatric population and strive to improve health and quality of life. 24 Hour Fitness has some Silver Sneaker programs as well as their own options for baby boomers. But the cost and limited location is a big drawback for those with limited mobility and limited disposable income.

24 Hour Fitness seems to be geared more towards a younger population. One perk for the younger population is that 24 Hour Fitness also offers child supervision and entertainment. The feature of being open around the clock serves everyone who has to fit exercise into a busy day. The drawbacks to 24 Hour Fitness are its fees, restricted membership levels and restricted cancellation and account freezing options.

ACE Fitness is an organization that provides training for Certified Personal Trainers, based on nationally accredited standards. They appear to be good at what they do, but cannot be compared to Silver Sneakers, 24 Hour Fitness or Silver & Fit.