Above: SilverSneakers fitness classes are available throughout the area. Photos courtesy of Tivity Health, Inc.

Some of my friends and colleagues have expressed interest in the well-known national SilverSneakers workout program.

Members frequently say they build strong relationships and healthy social connections with other members they’ve met through the physical fitness programs. Today, more than 70 types of classes are available through SilverSneakers, including boot camp, circuit training, strength and balance, tai chi, yoga and water aerobics, as noted on the MedicareWorld website.

Also, according to MedicareWorld, the SilverSneakers program “offers something most traditional gyms don’t — social support.”

“My SilverSneakers membership with Aetna Medicare has been a real blessing in my life,” said 79-year-old Anne Sheahan. She attends the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta (aka “the J”) with her card.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is among the insurance carriers that offer coverage of the SilverSneakers program. “Anthem is proud of our long-standing relationship with SilverSneakers,” said Hieu Nguyen, Medicare public relations director for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.“We offer access to this program – designed for older adults – with our Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans. Our consumers express time and again that their involvement in SilverSneakers has made a significant impact on their ability to lead more active, healthier lives.”

A High Price for Inactivity

“Non-institutionalized adults 50 years or older spend $860 billion annually on healthcare,” states the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention website. In fact, four out of five of the most costly chronic conditions among adults 50 years or older can be prevented or managed with physical activity, according to the website.

“I attend Silver Sneakers classes at LA Fitness in Decatur and Toco Hills, too,” said Joan Cioffi, retired Centers for Disease Control and Prevention executive.

She said she’s noticed many of the folks are “regulars.” Cioffi added that the instructor in Decatur has a continuous overflow of students in her classes.

“They offer a variety of classes, two of which keep me exercising Monday through Friday,” said Sheahan. “I am working to keep fit, at no expense to me!” Her husband Jim, 81, is a regular at ‘the J’, working out several mornings a week, she said.

Cioffi agreed. “It’s a great one-hour program where teachers have their own style of making each class fun and invigorating, but the Decatur class is exemplary with cool music, chair and standing exercises, light weights, resistance bands and even balls to toss and catch,” Cioffi said.

What’s New with SilverSneakers

Margie Wojciechowski is Senior Manager of Public Relations for Tivity Health, Inc. Tivity Health’s flagship products include SilverSneakers, Prime Fitness and WholeHealth Living, she said.

The new year will bring a broad range of new SilverSneaker benefits, she said. Wojciechowski included the following 2019 updates:

  • CollegeSave, the relatively new tuition discount program that will allow members to designate a beneficiary and accumulate points toward discounts at nearly 400 colleges based on the number of times they visit a participating fitness location.
  • SilverSneakers GO, a new mobile fitness application designed to meet the goals, preferences and lifestyle of active older adults.
  • Digital access to the latest health education information, as well as information about social activities and networking, through SilverSneakers’ social media channels and SilverSneakers.com.
  • SilverSneakers On-Demand, which brings video workouts to members whenever and wherever they want them. Members log in and can choose from hundreds of workouts in multiple categories.

The Sheahans said they’re particularly pleased to participate in the relatively new CollegeSave Program. It’s brought to them through their Aetna health insurance plan and requires seven visits per month at a participating location.

Together, the Sheahan grandparents accumulate college tuition savings (via discount points) for their designated student. Only “students between birth and August 31st prior to their junior year of high school are eligible,” however.

“That would be Rachel, our granddaughter,” said Anne Sheahan.

How to Get a Membership Card

Probably the most common question I’m asked about SilverSneakers is, “How do I get a membership card?”

Actually, the answer is as easy as one, two, three:

  1. Check for your eligibility: Does your health plan include the SilverSneakers Fitness program? Although Medicare Part A and Part B do not, many ‘supplemental’ (or Medigap) policies do. Not sure? Call the number on your supplemental insurance card. Note that most Advantage Plans (Part C) do include SilverSneakers as a benefit.
  2. Find a location near you: The SilverSneakers’ website (silversneakers.com, then click ‘Find Fitness Locations’) will confirm that thousands of participating gyms can be found nationwide — and many are in the Atlanta area. Include your ZIP code when you search.
  3. Take your 16-digit SilverSneakers number to any participating location for added access to classes, equipment and amenities. Be aware that additional rules or limited hours may apply from gym to gym.

Where to Get Your Workout

Here are a few of the many spots in the area where you can slip on your silver sneakers. To find more, visit silversneakers.com and click on “Find Fitness Locations.”

You can also check with your local medical, community, senior and fitness centers and ask whether they supply facilities and classes to SilverSneakers members.

Arbor Terrace of Burnt Hickory

  • 920 Burnt Hickory Road, Marietta 30064
  • Contact Devona Grant at 404-759-3960, arborcompany.com

Atlanta Medical Center Highland Athletic Club

Briarwood Park Community Center

  • 2235 Briarwood Way, Brookhaven 30319
  • Contact Melissa Campbell at 770-354-7664, briarwoodparkga.org

The Bridge at Austin

Campbell-Stone Buckhead Senior Apartments

Decatur Christian Towers

Dorothy C. Benson Senior Complex

First Congregational Church

  • 105 Courtland Street, Atlanta 30303
  • Contact Sheila Sellers at 404-913-3075, firstchurchatl.org

JenCare Senior Medical Centers

  • 2124 Candler Road, Decatur 30032
  • 3371 Buford Hwy., Brookhaven 30329
  • Contact Leiana Santifer at 770-312-6635, jencaremed.com

Kerwin B. Lee Family Life Center

Keswick Park Community Building

  • 3496 Keswick Drive, Chamblee 30341
  • Contact Juanita Black-Roberson at 313-727-5838, chambleega.com

Lou Walker Senior Center

Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta

North DeKalb Senior Center

  • 3393 Malone Drive, Chamblee 30341
  • Contact Karin Zarin at 404-298-4456, dekalbcountyga.gov

Park Place Senior Center

  • 3150 Old Alabama Road, Johns Creek 30022
  • Contact Judith Leet at 770-751-9331, johnscreekga.gov

Park Place at Newtown Park

  • 3125 Old Alabama Road, Johns Creek 30022
  • Contact Cheryl Butler at 770-364-1599, johnscreekga.gov

Peachtree Road United Methodist Church

  • 3180 Peachtree Road, Atlanta 30305
  • Contact Lori Trachtenberg at 678-575-5437, prumc.org

Peregrine’s Landing at Holcomb Bridge

Saint Philip Church

Sandy Spring United Methodist Church Activity Center

  • 85 Mount Vernon Highway, Sandy Spring 30328
  • Contact Melissa Campbell at 770-354-7664, ssumc.org

Stone Mountain Senior Campus at REACH

  • 6212 Memorial Drive, Stone Mountain 30083
  • Contact Cynthia Phillips at 404-502-4166, reachcdc.com

Stone Mountain United Methodist Church

  • 5312 W. Mountain Street, Stone Mountain 30083
  • Contact Ellen Mintzmyer at 404-421-8476, stonemountainfirst.org

Stronghold Community Family Life Center

The Wellness Center at DeKalb Medical Center

Judi Kanne

Judi Kanne is a public health communications consultant and contributing writer to Atlanta Senior Life.