Trillium Woods Fitness Program Helps Seniors Stay Fit and Have Fun

Just 15 miles west of downtown Minneapolis, Trillium Woods senior living community in Plymouth, Minnesota, is the place for those wanting a healthy senior lifestyle. Included in the vast array of on-site amenities and activities is a fitness program that combines group exercises classes, seasonal fitness events, outdoor activities, and day trips to nearby parks and bike trails.

Exercise Classes for All Abilities and Interests

Trillium Woods boasts a very high fitness participation rate, with a current 150 out of 180 residents using the fitness center on a regular basis. The center offers a variety of traditional exercise equipment – treadmills, NuSteps, ellipticals, free weights, balls, stretch bands – as well as a table for stretching and targeted exercises. There is also an array of group exercise classes and activities each week, some of which take place outdoors when the season allows.

According to Alyssa Isaackson, Trillium Woods’ Fitness Manager, the most popular exercise class at Trillium Woods is Strength & Balance, which draws about 15 participants per class. There is regular chair yoga and mat yoga, as well as Sit & Fit, a chair class specifically for those with limited mobility. A new, 8-week Tai Chi class was just added as well, due to resident requests.

Another popular class that fills up quickly is the Aqua Class, which takes place twice a week. Alyssa explained why water classes are so popular among the senior population. “When you are in water, it takes about 80-90 percent of body weight off of your hips and knees. So it allows residents with issues like arthritis or limited mobility to move in the water. It’s less stress on the body, but you are still able to get a good workout. And it’s good balance training.”

A new class that Alyssa recently introduced to residents is Cardio Drumming. A full-body cardio workout that is giving Zumba a run for its money, cardio drumming involves rhythmically beating on a large exercise ball with a pair of drumsticks, while moving and grooving to upbeat music.

“We move to the music and use different techniques – tapping on the top and side, doing some squats.” explained Alyssa. “It’s not as structured as other classes. It’s fun, and a surprisingly good workout.” Cardio Drumming sites and instructor videos also tout its cognitive benefits, explaining that as you hit the ball with the drumsticks, the brain immediately engages to remember and follow the rhythmic movements.

For residents uninterested in or unable to do a group fitness class, Alyssa provides them with individual exercise tips and advice, and shows them around the gym equipment. She also offers initial evaluations when residents first move in. “We test their strength, balance, flexibility, and aerobic capacity. I recommend it so I can get a baseline reading and suggest what they need to work on. Then annually I check them again to see where they’ve improved or what areas they need to refocus on.”

A Social Outlet for Seniors

Fitness classes are also a great way for new Trillium Woods residents to meet people and make new friends, said Alyssa. “Everyone here is very friendly. They’ll help each other out, and they understand that everyone has limitations and may not be able to do all of the exercises.”

Accessing the fitness center and exercise classes is also very convenient. “Residents literally walk down the hall and here we are. No driving or traffic,” said Alyssa. “Afterward they will go for coffee, or stay and talk. The social along with the physical is a great combination to help our residents adhere to the program to keep them coming back. They really enjoy it.”

Alyssa shared that there have been residents who had never exercised prior to moving into Trillium Woods, who started to come to classes regularly. “You can see the improvement in their gait, walking, their overall health. They can reach up into cupboard to grab something easier, or carry in groceries, they don’t get as easily fatigued.”

Fun Fitness Events

Twice a month, Alyssa takes Trillium Woods residents to nearby parks and walking trails. Local Silverwood Park is a resident favorite, with paved and unpaved walking trails, benches, and an indoor café and art display. “It’s great for residents who can only walk for 10-15 minutes, they then go inside and enjoy.”

In the summer, Alyssa adds in some fun outdoor activities like bean bag toss and bocce ball. Residents also participate in off-campus Pickleball leagues, a unique and fun game for all ages that combines tennis, badminton and ping-pong rules. During the 2016 Summer Olympics, Trillium Woods had its own Olympics, with Pickleball, chair volleyball, indoor golf, putting, and water-balloon shot put. “We had over 50 residents participate. Other residents and family members came to cheer them on. We had opening and closing ceremonies, awards, and even got media coverage,” said Alyssa.

Fitness Freeze takes place in December, and Active Aging happens in September. This past winter, residents participated in Trailing Across Minnesota, tracking their mileage from walking, biking or swimming for one month. “I had a virtual ‘route’ around Minnesota that the residents applied their miles to in order to finish by the end of the month,” said Alyssa. “They really enjoyed that.”

Uniquely Trillium Woods

While many senior living community wellness programs tend to focus primarily on fitness, Alyssa partners with other departments to provide unique events. “With the community life services department, for instance, we do a Healthy Life Fair every quarter. We try to highlight different things pertaining to that time of year, such as focusing on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in the winter and targeting different stations around that theme.” In addition, the fairs include visits from a dietician, the Trillium Woods Health Care Navigator, and community sources, such as a doctor, who can provide information on certain topics.

Alyssa also works with the physical therapy department, referring residents to them and vice-versa. “I also try to attend other events throughout the community so residents see me and feel comfortable around me,” she said. “I love to help these residents with whatever their needs are. They are such a great group of people, with wonderful personalities. They appreciate what I do for them, and they make my job easy! Every day is so rewarding.”

The end goal, said Alyssa, is to provide residents with a quality life and the ability to do daily activities, partake in their favorite hobbies, and be with their grandchildren. “Being fit can enable residents to do those things comfortably and live a longer, healthier, and pain-free life.”

To find out how you can become a part of Trillium Woods’s senior living community, get in touch with us at (763) 553-7600.