“This is a hidden gem,” I said to Jenna Chase, Associate Director of Health and Wellness Programming at Saint Joseph’s College as she gave me a tour of the state-of-the-art fitness facility in Alfond Center. Not able to resist playing off my slightly southern dialect, she responded, “Did you say this was a hidden gym?”
We both laughed but the truth is, there is a lot of unknown opportunities for fitness, growth, and lifelong learning at Saint Joseph’s College available to all residents of the Lakes Region communities, young and old alike. Many people in the area are unaware of the multifaceted options available at Saint Joseph’s that are accessible at a very low rate or at no cost at all.
Of the many programs offered, SilverSneakers, a nationwide exercise program for older adults, has recently been added into the fitness selections at Saint Joseph’s. “Silver Sneakers is a fitness program for seniors that’s included with many Medicare Advantage plans,” said Chase who is a certified SilverSneakers instructor. “Membership incorporates access to every participating gym and fitness center in the network. To check eligibility, an individual can simply go to the website at or by contacting their plan directly.”
|SilverSneakers is now available at Saint Joseph's College|
photo by Evan Loignon
The purpose of featuring SilverSneakers is multifold. “We empower older adults to live their best lives with vitality, dignity and purpose,” said Chase. “Our goal is to enable healthy aging – both in place and within the community.”
Additionally, SilverSneakers is part of a new initiative at the college. Peter Nielsen, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Saint Joseph’s, explained that the college is developing several programs designed to support older adults as the college establishes the Institute for Integrative Aging, a center for research, education, and community-centered care for older adults. Integrative aging—a term coined by Saint Joseph’s College President Jim Dlugos—seeks to advance the concepts of integrative medicine and healthcare to develop an understanding and approach to aging which recognizes the multi-dimensional aspects of aging.
Chase stated that SilverSneakers has a variety of classes to meet the needs of all participating members. “We are currently offering three signature class formats that include strength and cardio classes to improve overall fitness,” Chase began. “We accommodate and make modifications to assure that everyone is comfortable.”'
SilverSneakers participant, Kimberly Cross concurred with Chase. "I have arthritis in my shoulder, and finally I have exercises I can do,” she said.
But just as important as the physical aspect of health and wellness, social connections and having fun, play a large role in SilverSneakers as well. “If you don’t like walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes, don’t do it,” Chase said. “Find something that makes you forget that you are working out.”
That’s what makes SilverSneakers so unique. Participants forget they are working out because they are having so much fun. "It is so much better than just using equipment in a gym full of strangers. An engaged group following an enthusiastic leader is so much more encouraging," stated another SilverSneakers participant, Kathie Bickford.
Another reason why SilverSneakers is so much fun is the music that is chosen by the participants. “After feedback, I’ve included music that the participants have requested and enjoy working out to,” said Chase, who is a 2011 Saint Joseph graduate with a degree in Exercise Science. “We dance and do exercises to music selections from Jimmy Buffet, Frank Sinatra and Beatles to name just a few. We even have had a request for music by Dianna Ross and I have included her music in the exercise program, too.”
When asked if Chase knew Diana Ross, she responded, “I think I may have heard of her” and thus, multigenerational and integrative learning at its best.
If you are interested in learning more about SilverSneakers, join in on the Launch Week for free to experience the classes for yourself. Join in all or one of the following sessions: Tuesday, March 12, Thursday, March 14 and Friday, March 15. All classes begin at 11 a.m. and will include a tour of the fitness facility, healthy snacks and beverages, as well as a tour of the café on campus.
Whether it’s exercise, fun, food or social activities you are looking for, you will find it at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, 278 Whites Bridge Road in Standish. You will definitely find the hidden indoor “gym” (aka, indoor track) located on the second floor that is available for all Lakes Region residents for free. And perhaps you’ll discover a hidden gem that will meet all your needs, right here in your own backyard.
For more information about SilverSneakers or to schedule a tour of the fitness facility, call Chase at or go online at www.silversneakers.com