Active Aging: Fitness at The Hill

Residents Jay Gress and Karen Minyard enjoy a workout with The Hill’s Fitness Director Andrew Seibert.

Before moving to The Hill at Whitemarsh in 2007, Suzi Foster had never belonged to a gym. In the past 15 years, Suzi has taken full advantage of the Fitness Center at The Hill, participating in water aerobics classes in the indoor pool as well as outdoor activities like yoga.

“I golfed, I swam, and I walked–that’s really it,” said Suzi. “I’m more active now than I’ve ever been!”

For Jay Gress, who moved to The Hill in June 2020, access to top-notch fitness was a big factor in his decision-making process.

“The Fitness Center played a big role in my choice to move to The Hill,” he said. “Fitness is really important to my wife and me. We led a very active lifestyle before moving and wanted to make sure that wouldn’t change with a move.”

Since becoming a resident at The Hill, Jay has taken full advantage of the pools, swimming regularly and even trying a water aerobics class or two.

It’s not surprising that two people with two different views about fitness would fall in love with exercising at The Hill. In fact, it’s all by design; one of Andrew Seibert’s main goals as Fitness Director for The Hill at Whitemarsh is creating programming that everyone loves, despite their age, capabilities, or fitness level.

“We have a population that spans about 30 years, and we try to find ways to educate our residents about how to exercise within their own abilities in a way that’s appropriate for their goals and needs,” Andrew said.

As members of the International Council on Active Aging® (ICAA), The Hill incorporates the organization’s guidelines and philosophies to help inform the fitness program.

“We use the ICAA’s seven dimensions of wellness, which include the intellectual, spiritual, physical, environmental, emotional, social, and professional/vocational, and we look for ways to encourage balance among all of them in our fitness programs,” Andrew said. “No matter the reason for why someone wants to work out, we want to make sure there’s something appealing for them.”

For Suzi, she really loves the social aspect of The Hill’s fitness programming.

“There are always new activities to explore. I had never done yoga before moving to The Hill, and I’ve tried bocce, pickleball, and virtual golf. Much of the athletic activities encourage socialization, and it’s so fun!”

And for Jay, it’s the physical and spiritual dimensions that he loves most about exercising, and he’s built a weekly routine around it.

“Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I’m in the pool doing one hour of work with resistance equipment, and I’m in the aerobics center on Tuesday and Thursday for an hour,” said Jay. “It encourages a very healthy lifestyle!”

It’s not uncommon for Andrew’s team to partner with the Events Coordinator in order to dream up new ways for residents to stay active and engaged in the wider community. In October, as part of ICAA’s Active Aging Week, The Hill arranged for a wide variety of special fitness programming that included yoga for seniors, outdoor games and activities, a virtual golf tournament, and a boxing fusion class.

“There are always new activities to explore…much of the athletic activities encourage socialization, and it’s so fun!” – Suzi Foster

These special fitness programs are a big draw for many residents at The Hill, including Suzi Gerber, who is always looking for new ways to keep her exercise routine fresh and exciting.

“Trying new things keeps you young!” Suzi Gerber said with a laugh. “Boxing was a really, really fun class. It was hard–there was a lot of footwork and fancy arm work–you just do not stop moving the entire time. But the instructor was wonderful and encouraged everyone to move at their own pace. It was challenging, and I had a blast.”

“I love watching our residents try new things when it comes to fitness, to break out of their comfort zones and enjoy it,” said Andrew. “And I really love to see residents come back because they’ve overcome something that they never thought possible. Many start to exercise with greater frequency and come to really love it.”