A fitness club is only as good as its location…if it's inconvenient, people won't go and thus it won't be effective. Therefore the residents of The Clare are especially fortunate, having a first-class fitness center that couldn't be any more convenient. Located on the 9th floor of the Gold Coast Life Care high-rise retirement community is its remodeled and newly equipped The Clare Athletic Club. Only an elevator ride away for each resident, The Clare Athletic Club provides the latest in senior-friendly equipment, professional instruction, personal training and round-the-clock hours. "Our goal is to provide a great fitness club for all of our residents within our own community so that they won't have to go elsewhere," said Melissa Cusick, manager of The Clare Athletic Club. "Fitness is an essential part of staying independent and vibrant as the residents' age. It has a direct effect on their quality of life."
The Clare Athletic Club was redesigned to offer an optimal multidisciplinary approach to wellness, fitness and overall health. "We now provide a more comprehensive ability to exercise the major muscle groups," said Cusick who added that there are also great alternatives available for residents who don't like or are unable to use machines. "It's just wonderful to have options and work with people at their individual level. Variety is the spice of life."
The space accommodates group fitness classes, which are especially popular as they provide the opportunity for residents to work out together. "It's important to make fitness enjoyable so people will be more inclined to exercise regularly. The group classes are a lot of fun as well as effective. There's a tremendous sense of camaraderie because the person you're working out next to is your neighbor and probably your friend. The residents take great pleasure in encouraging each other," said Cusick. The thirteen fitness classes offered weekly include three fusion or cardio strengthening classes, three balance classes, two circuit classes, two chair-based classes, two pool classes and one water walking class.
The Clare Athletic Club is managed by the National Institute for Fitness and Sport (NIFS), a leader in the expanding field of active aging. "We work with more than a dozen other senior communities across the United States. That's a significant advantage for us as it gives us feedback on what has or hasn't worked well across the country with residents similar to those living at The Clare," said Cusick.
As the fitness manager, Cusick is able to design and coordinate special programs that she knows will engage the residents. This week she unveiled the Twelve Days of Fitness Program, which encourages residents to stop by The Clare Athletic Club daily and add a new exercise to add to their routine. "Being here as the fulltime fitness manager allows me to really get to know the residents, their goals and their likes and dislikes so that I can then help them identify activities that will help them be successful and enjoyable," she said.
In addition to group fitness classes, services available at The Clare Athletic Club include exercise consultation, personal training, balance and fitness testing, health screenings, wellness programs, educational presentations, pool programming and more. "We have a strong focus on balance, flexibility, strength training, cardio/aerobic and range of motion," Cusick said. "Our indoor pool has a tread water feature for residents who like to water walk. There really is something for everyone at The Clare."
Since the renovations and new equipment at The Clare Athletic Club were unveiled, there has been a significant increase in resident participation in fitness and wellness activities. "We have some residents that have been living here more than four years and never used the fitness center. Now, with the new Clare Athletic Club and our new equipment and greater programming offerings, more and more residents are joining in," said Cusick. "Some are a little nervous at first, which happens with all age groups at the idea of getting involved with a fitness program. I take them around and show them how to use the machines, talk with them about their interests and goals and how to help achieve them. Once they become familiar with things, the nervousness goes away and they being enjoying their routines. It is really encouraging to have residents who haven't worked out before, doing so now. It's going really well!"
Not all state-of-the-art fitness clubs are created equally, Cusick cautioned. "In addition to having the best equipment, we are also very senior friendly which means, among other things, that spacing between the equipment is targeted for individuals who may have mobility issues. We strive to serve as many people in the community as possible." Membership to The Clare Athletic Club is free to residents.
Cusick said that it's been a lot of fun introducing the new equipment to the residents at The Clare. "Some of our residents didn't have the time for fitness that they have now. They enjoy exploring the new opportunities and realize the importance of fitness in maintaining their independence. I like the challenge of creating individualized plans for each person, with routines they will enjoy and benefit from in order to achieve their goals," she said. "The Clare as a community is in the heart of it all. I like to think of The Clare Athletic Club being the heart of our wellness program."
The Clare at Rush and Pearson is a Life Care retirement community in the heart of Chicago's Gold Coast with incomparable lifestyle, amenities and the financial stability only a debt-free community can offer. The Terraces at The Clare, which partners with Northwestern Memorial Hospital, provides assisted living, memory support, rehabilitation and skilled nursing. The Terraces has earned the 5-star quality rating by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The Clare is owned by Chicago Senior Care and managed by Life Care Services. For more information visit: www.theclare.com or call 312-784-8100.