Making Fitness a Priority Pays Off
Seniors are more fitness minded than ever before. As Westminster Village West Lafayette planned for their future, they made fitness and wellness a primary objective. In this section of our series we will look at how one Indiana Life Plan community identified a priority in the lives of their future residents and it paid off in a big way.
Fitness facility powerful element
“Historically, when the Board at Westminster Village West Lafayette plans a big project, they like to include a piece that will generate some revenue,” the Executive Director says. The hybrid home project was no exception, and the component that was designed to create revenue also created marketing value and strengthened connections with the surrounding community.
The Board wanted to attract fitness-minded residents. They envisioned something more elaborate and user-friendly than the room with a couple pieces of dust-covered fitness equipment you’ll find at most senior communities. “The goal was to not only serve the younger residents who would want the facility, but also reach out to serve local seniors who weren’t age- and income-qualified to live here,” the Director notes.
During the design phase, K2M Design took the Leadership Team on a tour of fitness facilities. Along the way, they brainstormed, and the result was the Live Well Fitness & Rehab Center. “It’s a hub where we can offer services to people who don’t live here, or who may need us for a short-term stay in our health center, but may not necessarily move here,” explains the facility Director. “We wanted to incorporate the seven dimensions of wellness, so we also included social spaces.”
The Fitness Center is a large facility divided into several spaces, including two exercise areas, a pool area, craft rooms, private therapy studios, and a large room with a floating wood floor that’s essentially a dance studio. “A local dance club asked us if they could come in and use the space,” says Leadership. “They pay us a small fee that allows us to have someone on the staff come in and open it up for them. We have residents who enjoy watching the club, and some who have even joined in.” The room is also used for aerobics, Zumba, yoga, and other activities.
Accessing university resources
Leadership look for additional ways of interacting with the community and turned to their adjacent neighbor, Purdue University. The Fitness Center is managed by a Health and Wellness Director who earned a Kinesiology degree at Purdue, and it draws upon resources from the nearby campus. For example, graduate students are able to perform internships, giving them a convenient place to advance their education while delivering services such as personal training and therapy to residents.
Westminster Village had been outgrowing the therapy space in its health center because of demand for outpatient services. Now the health center space is completely devoted to residents, while outpatient services have moved to the new facility.
The exercise rooms and equipment are designed for the unique needs of older adults. “Seniors don’t necessarily want to exercise next to a 20-year-old,” states the facility’s Director. “They prefer to be with their friends, and with people who are more their age and speed. The equipment was selected and set up for older adults. For example, the treadmills are lower to the ground, start at zero, and have handrails that go all the way to the back.” Personal trainers ensure that residents use the equipment correctly and effectively. One side of the room has weight equipment, while the other is geared to aerobic exercise.
Visitors will also notice boxing equipment, but it doesn’t mean Westminster Village fields a full card of Friday night bouts. “The local Parkinson’s support group told us about a program called Rock Steady Boxing that uses boxing bags and that has been proven to slow the progression of symptoms,” Leadership explains. “Their members were driving to Indianapolis to participate. We looked into it and have become the first certified site in the area.”
A pair of art studios, including one equipped with a kiln, provides a variety of activities for residents and people from the community. The local YWCA used the facility to make and fire clay bowls for a fund-raiser. “We’ve been fortunate to have an art therapy intern,” the Director says. “We’ve also had music therapists, and access to these professionals allows us to offer a more well-rounded therapy program than other communities.”
Building the facility also provided an opportunity to develop a dedicated entrance and lobby area for the assisted living wing, housed in an adjacent 1980s building, and to create an outdoor garden area designed specifically for residents with limited mobility.
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