Dublin Villager

L.A. Fitness tells Silver Sneakers to pack up

The Medicare-covered program for seniors won't be accepted at the Sawmill Parkway gym as of Jan. 1

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Health and welless are important to Powell residents Gary and Inge Carpenter.

For the past year, the two, both in their 70s, have taken advantage of a Medicare program to participate in free fitness classes at the Urban Active gym on Sawmill Parkway.

Now they, along with dozens of other senior members, are feeling snubbed after the gym announced this fall that it will no longer participate with the Silver Sneakers program, starting Jan. 1.

In October, national fitness chain L. A. Fitness acquired Urban Active clubs in seven states, including Ohio. The new ownership is doing away with its Silver Sneakers classes in the transition.

"It's frustrating that in a time when seniors are increasing in numbers very rapidly, that every which way you turn, people are telling you they don't take Medicare programs," Mr. Carpenter said.

It's not the first time he's been forced to switch gyms. In 2010, he attended Lifestyle Fitness in Dublin until that business was bought out by Life Time Fitness, which also nixed its Medicare-supported senior program.

For the past year, the Carpenters have attended Urban Active three days a week for classes that included weight-lifting and aerobics workouts.

"Those of us with limited incomes would never be able to afford a club, so it's nice that we are able to take advantage of this exercise opportunity," Mr. Carpenter said.

"I think it's a great program and it's extremely well-attended. It just doesn't make sense to me that they would refuse something like that."

A manager at the former Urban Active location, now L.A. Fitness, declined to comment on the development.

ThisWeek News calls and email to officials at L.A. Fitness corporate headquarters in Irvine, Calif., were not returned.

The Sawmill Parkway Urban Active manager did say the gym is considering other options to provide discounts on senior memberships, but said the programs likely won't be free through Medicare like Silver Sneakers.

That's a disappointment for Richard Jacobs, 82, who also participated in the program.

"I feel like we're being discriminated against," he said.

Area seniors do have at least one option left. The Liberty Township/Powell YMCA at 7798 Liberty Road North still participates with Silver Sneakers.

Jacobs said the YMCA classes can get crowded because its rooms are smaller, and he worried they might fill up.

But a representative with the local YMCA said the location can add classes based on demand. She said several new water fitness classes were added recently to accommodate more seniors.

And the YMCA says the Silver Sneakers program is there to stay.

That could be good news for seniors like Beverly Muntean, 65, who said she has attended free water fitness classes at Urban Active almost daily for the last year to stay fit and fend off arthritis.

"Now the arthritis doesn't bother me, and my doctor said it could be a long time before I need a knee replacement," she said.

 

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