In honor of grandparents' day on September 7th of this month, we're commemorating senior members from our SilverSneakers® program. Our trainer Becca nominated Bob and Mary Hunter, members of RHF since 2010. Having had the pleasure of conducting this interview with them, I (Emily) can attest that they are model members when it comes to staying active, eating healthy and connecting with their neighbors.
Emily: What made you want to join Rainier Health & Fitness?
Bob: Well we were already members of SilverSneakers® and we moved to the south end, to Seward Park, from Capitol Hill, and we’d been going to two different gyms and wanted to keep on and find one that offered SilverSneakers® and this was close to our home and convenient so we visited and we liked it.
Mary: I think it was Patrick who welcomed us when we dropped in and he was so inviting and friendly. We had driven by the gym many, many times and we knew that it had been here for a long time.
Bob: We kept looking at it and saying, ‘Do you suppose we could go in there?’ Mary actually came first.
Mary: Yes, I came first.
Bob: Mary was brave and came first. And I said ‘OK’ but once we walked in we were sold.
Emily: What sort of activities have you enjoyed doing with your children and grandchildren?
Bob: You go first ‘cause you’ve been more active than I have.
Mary: Well, visiting parks and walking, especially along the shore. I’ve learned some new rock aiming games from my grandson and had a lot of practice throwing rocks into the lake with our granddaughter. Also, I very much enjoy taking them to playgrounds and merry-go-rounds and swings. Also, bringing our grandson to exercise class with us, which the gym has been so gracious about. He actually loves coming here.
Emily: to SilverSneakers® classes?
Bob and Mary: Yep
Mary: And I think it’s really good for him to see old people exercise. And he has been tired after. In fact, a couple times he said, ‘My legs are shaky’ on the way home.
Emily: How old is he?
Bob: And I know another couple who bring their grandson sometimes so when Angus was staying with us we asked, ‘Do you want to come?’ He said, ‘Oh yeah, I’d like to go!’ I didn’t think he’d be interested but he really likes it.
Mary: He likes the yoga.
Bob: And he likes talking to the other people in the class.
Mary: And he likes helping put the things away.
Bob: Yeah, he helps put the chairs away.
Mary: And he actually had a good time with Gilbert and Amy’s two grandsons. At the end of the class they started playing with the big balls. So it was real positive. Anything else that we do with him?
Bob: Well, he’s a soccer player and although I can’t do any of that with him, Mary was also a soccer player. So she gives him tips from her experience.
Mary: I also kick the ball around with him.
Emily: That’s a cool Grandma right there who kicks a soccer ball around!
Mary: We can still kick the ball around!
Emily: So what kind of results are you getting from working out at the gym, SilverSneakers®?
Bob: Well I think it’s keeping me moving. I can see over the last 5 or 6 years that my activity abilities are dwindling, but coming to the gym I think keeps it from dwindling as fast. I’m sure I’m continuing to be able to move around a little bit more because of the exercise I do every day. I mean, it’s not making me into a jock or building up my muscles or anything like that I’m sorry to say but it’s keeping my activity level up. It gives me a motivation to keep coming and working. I think if I weren’t coming here, I’d have a hard time making myself do it somewhere else.
Mary: And I feel it’s really been good for my flexibility. You know, I am stronger. I can really tell it in yoga class when we do the moves where we have to really sustain our core and I can hold things longer. Some mornings I wake up and every joint in my body complains and I get here and I do a workout and everything feels better just getting the blood flowing and stimulating.
Emily: That’s awesome!
Mary: And I think the other thing we come here for is the community.
Bob: Oh yeah!
Mary: We’ve found really wonderful people here and connected to the neighborhood in a way we would not have, had we not come to this gym.
Bob: And to a broader segment of the neighborhood, beyond just the people who live right around us. We’ve connected to people who live in the broader South Seattle, South Rainier neighborhood and gotten to know the neighborhood and the people here much better than we would have if we weren’t coming to this facility. And truly we’ve met some of the nicest people in Seattle at this gym.
Emily: That’s awesome! Yeah, that’s one of our goals as well as health is the community aspect. It’s encouraging to hear that. And even as an employee here I feel the same way.
Mary: It’s been very successful. Even before the new gym opened that was one of the things that we liked immediately when we started coming here.
Emily: How do you motivate one another to be active and healthy?
Mary: We both cook. We raise vegetables. We both garden and we really do try to eat a healthy diet. I would say that when we fall we fall together for ice-cream.
Bob (laughing): Yeah.
Emily: It’s ok. You gotta have your guilty pleasure.
Bob: When both of you are coming in, if she says ‘I’m going’ well I’m not gonna say ‘Well, I’m not going.’ I have to have an awfully good excuse to stay home and have another cup of coffee or stay in bed longer. I think if you’re both doing it, in a way it kinda pushes each other. I mean it’s not a competition, but it is a shared and you want to keep it doing it together.
Mary: Plus you’re the one who consistently sets the alarm for 7. We are both long-time members of Group Health and in that health care system. Well, they provide our SilverSneakers® services. But there’s also a lot of emphasis on you’re responsibility to taking care of yourself with nutrition and exercise.
Emily: That’s awesome. It’s fun to hear how you motivate each other with your 7:00 alarm.
Mary: And making coffee. Whoever gets upstairs first makes the other a latte.
Emily: It’s a gym in Seattle. It’s perfectly acceptable to include that! And the last question is, what are your current fitness routines? What do you do when you come to the gym?
Bob: With me it’s the 5 classes, the regular SilverSneakers® classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and the core strengthening and yoga on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I don’t typically come and do any other.
Emily: Five days is a lot.
Mary: Well, that’s our goal. And we are at the point of thinking we might like another day of core. And we have tried ZUMBA.
Bob: I don’t think I could do that any more but it was fun.
Mary: Well I really want to say one more thing. We’ve really appreciated the professionalism of the staff here and like it that they’re trained in the program. Also just the very welcoming attitude the minute you come into the gym. It’s just professionalism at the desk and if you workout and the training—we’ve tried a couple of group trainings—it’s not that way at every other gym.
Emily: Thanks for that feedback. It’s good to hear.
Bob: I think because of the friends we’ve made here and everything I wouldn’t consider going to another gym. The one thing that would make me not is, the thing that is very important for me at the age I am, is I do feel like the instructors are knowledgeable and appreciate the particular problems of seniors. I think if that were to go away, that would give me cause and I think I wouldn’t feel comfortable if somebody just came in and gave a dumb-down class because we’re old without really having the awareness of the special needs and special concerns of seniors. And I have felt from the very beginning that they were aware of that. And I think keeping that up is important to maintaining a seniors’ business.
Emily: Thanks for that too.
Mary: And also the demonstration of good form. Many of us can’t attain it, but to be shown the proper way to do it is really protection for our bodies.
Emily: Is there advice or tips you’d give to another senior who’s thinking about going to the gym or doing SilverSneakers® but is not sure and feels a little intimidated?
Mary: Get off your chair and get over here! It’s a fun group of people; there are no whiners. I mean, when I go for my annual checkup, I talk to my doctor and I always tell him, ‘And in this group of people there are no whiners. It’s just so refreshing!” We know they all have their aches and pains but they just get in there and do it. It’s a very positive atmosphere and energy to it.
Emily: Thanks so much!