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Senior Living

Seniors living in the city of Evanston have a wonderful fitness opportunity right in their own backyard at Northwestern University. The Prime Time Fitness program is designed specifically for the needs of older adults and addresses the many different levels of ability/disability of those who enroll in the program.

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How does it all work? Prior to beginning the Prime Time Fitness program, a physician’s consent is required. Then, an individual health and fitness evaluation is done so that participants can re-test at the end of the program to see how much they have improved. Signing up is easy—either with the 10-class pass, the quarter pass or the annual pass, depending on what is most convenient. Those opting for the quarter or annual pass also receive a free pass for the mind/body classes on the premises as well. Participants also have a “limited membership” to the rest of the facility, which is theirs to use free of charge on the mornings they have class.

Before starting in the program, there is an orientation where the new member is shown around—and introduced to ­the exercise machines. Proper form, settings and use are discussed so that participants know how to operate the equipment before they are asked to do things in a group setting. This also gives people a chance to ask questions and get more comfortable in their new exercise environment.

The program itself consists of three, one-hour meetings per week—on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. Members have their choice of a class that meets from 7 to 8:00 a.m. or one that goes from 10:00 to 11:00, depending on their personal preference. Classes are geared for those over the age of 55, but are not restricted to that age group—younger people can also join. “The program just keeps growing,” remarks the Assistant Director of Fitness and Wellness, Bettylynn Koules.

Classes follow a predictable format—a half hour of cardiovascular conditioning, followed by a half hour of guided strength-training, balance work and functional conditioning, depending on the day. Mondays highlight Latin Dance and Fridays are T’ai Chi. All of the instructors and personal trainers in the program are certified, and many have advanced degrees in fields such as exercise physiology or exercise science. Koules notes, “We try to give people the latest, good information.” Class sessions run for 10 to 11 weeks, and usually have breaks built in for the holiday seasons.

Those who are concerned about whether they can participate in group exercise classes can rest easy. “All of our instructors are aware of any individual challenges that people might have, and offer modifications tailored just for them,” says Koules about the program’s approach to group fitness.

In addition to the physical benefits of these classes, people in the program often find the social network is an enjoyable aspect as well. Some even choose to extend their time at the facility, going on with friends after their first workout to classes such as “Aqua Aerobics,” which is offered by the Group Fitness Program.

The Prime Time Fitness program has continued to grow and develop since its beginnings in the fall of 2002. With an expert staff, supportive environment and solid enrollment, it has established itself as one of the leaders of the senior fitness community in the Evanston area.

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