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.
What Is 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.
- Added value
Silver Sneakers partners with healthcare providers and nationally recognized fitness centers and gyms to provide participants with convenient ways to improve their health. Participants may access over 15,000 locations nationwide as many times as they like.
Each participant in the program has unique needs and goals. Health and fitness centers offer a variety of classes for seniors to achieve their best health and wellness ever. There is even the Silver Sneakers FLEX program that has over 70 types of classes at parks, recreation centers and clubs.
Silver Sneakers provide education and motivation through extensive learning and expansive social media outreach.
The Silver Sneakers program knows the number one most beneficial factor for motivation and progression towards better health and welfare is to provide a social system as well as exercise buddies. Social events and other online resources make participants feel like they are all in it together.
Silver Sneakers Offers a variety of classes to choose from so you will never get bored.
Silver Sneakers: Product Specs
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
This class is designed to increase muscle strength and range of motion in order to improve the participant’s ability to manage their activities of daily living. Seated exercises use a chair, standing exercises are facilitated with standing support, and the class can be modified according to individual needs.
Silver Sneakers Circuit
Standing, low impact maneuvers are alternated with standing upper body strength exercises using hand-held weights, elastic tubing and a Silver Sneakers ball. Chairs are available and the class can be modified according to individual needs.
Silver Sneakers Cardio Fit
The focus of this class is to improve core strength and cardio endurance. This safe and heart-healthy class utilizes aerobics and low impact movements.
Silver Sneakers Yoga
Restorative breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, and seated and standing postures increase flexibility, balance and range of movement.
Silver Sneakers Splash
Just as the name says, this is a shallow water exercise class suitable for all skill levels and safe for non-swimmers. Movements take advantage of water to facilitate improved strength and range of motion.
Silver Sneakers Stability
This class focuses on strengthening ankles, knee and hip joints in order to improve balance, stability and enhance fall prevention.
Water in Motion
The buoyancy of water reduces of the strain of gravity and permits participants to enjoy a high energy cross-training workout.
Boom Muscle focuses on groups of exercises to tone muscles and build overall strength. Boom Mind takes the best from yoga and Pilates and combines them to relax the body and mind. Boom Move provides a high intensity dance workout that improves cardio endurance.
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.
Depends on eligibility.
Exceptional variety and quality of classes adjusted to meet the needs of every user.
Limited to Medicare participants who qualify and choose the Medicare Advantage option.
Over 15,000 locations nationwide. Equipment depends on location.
24 Hour Fitness
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
Designed to get you up and running right from the start, workouts are suggested for you based on your goals and your time. Your trainer can be added and you can track everything you achieve in and out of the gym.
GX24 Studio Classes
Individually or with friends, this program offers hundreds of studio and cycle classes such as Zumba, U-Jam, POP Pilates, BODYPUMP and BODYCOMBAT.
Professional trainers utilize proven strategies to help you meet your personal goals.
TC24 Small Group Training
Team workouts with buddies offer friendly competition and inspiration to push beyond personal limits.
Olympic equipment provides the highest standard of training.
Designed to supervise and entertain your children while you are getting a well earned workout.
Fit: Perks Rewards
As an incentive to keep moving forward with your success, 24 Hour Fitness offers a reward system. You are automatically enrolled and can earn points towards exclusive deals and sweepstakes.
A bit pricey, given the restrictions.
Exceptional variety and quality of classes adjusted to meet the needs of every user.
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.
Only 400 locations nationwide. Excellent, clean up-to-date equipment. Quality online resources.
Silver & Fit
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
Defines the various fitness facilities available.
Home Fitness Program
For those who prefer or are limited to working out at home.
Online classes, videos articles and a newsletter are available.
Enhances motivation by inviting supporters to cheer for their member.
Silver & Fit Connected
A device app that makes it easier to keep track of health and wellness improvements.
Offers rewards for being active.
Some health plans may require fees; Blue Cross of Idaho charges $50 per year.
Hard to find convenient information without being asked to enroll or call.
Limited to Medicare participants who qualify and choose the Medicare Advantage option. Some health plans offer membership as well.
Unable to discover the number of locations unless type in zip code. Equipment depends on location.
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.
There are three personal trainer study programs ranging from $500-$1000.
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 means being part of the certified professional trainer community
There are plenty of online courses, specialist programs, workshops and events, live webinars and other online materials.
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.