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  • Writer's pictureBeltsville News

Boot Camp at Riderwood Popular with Residents

Updated: Jan 1, 2021

Rose “Yaya” Gurley says the boot camp class she teaches at Riderwood helps community members improve stamina, endurance, and strength. (Courtesy Photo)

Staying physically fit is one of the best things you can do to be able to continue to enjoy life as you get older. That's why so many people who live at Riderwood, an Erickson Living managed senior living community in Silver Spring, MD, make it a priority to exercise, whether that be walking briskly around the picturesque campus, swimming laps in the heated indoor pool, or taking a group exercise class at the on-site fitness center.

One of the newer group classes at the fitness center is boot camp—a higher-intensity workout that incorporates strength training using bodyweight, dumbbells or resistance bands, aerobic exercise, balance skills, and stretching. The class was added to the schedule after a few community members requested more challenging workouts. It began as a 12-week pilot class in 2019 and was added to the regular rotation because of its popularity.

"Sometimes, to make things fun, we split the class into two groups and have relay races," says Rose "Yaya" Gurley, a fitness instructor at Riderwood. "We always end the class with some mat work where various core work, including Pilates’ moves, is incorporated. We end the class with floor stretches and high fives."

Positive Results

Gurley says that people who take the boot camp class can expect to see an increase in their stamina, endurance, and overall strength as well as a big boost in self-confidence. Fitness manager Paula Butler says instructors can modify the exercises so that anyone can join in and go at their own pace. Plus, she says this kind of exercise has some unexpected benefits for older adults.

"In addition to the obvious improvements in functional and general strength, cardiovascular fitness and mobility, older adults also get brain health benefits from boot camp style classes," Butler says. "Utilizing intervals and rapidly switching between exercises requires faster neural signaling, so processing speed improves. Additionally, boot camp style exercises tend to be more unconventional and complex than traditional strength-training exercises and require more executive functioning skills."

Community member Hue Phan used to get her exercise from line-dancing and walking. She decided to challenge herself by taking the boot camp class twice a week.

"I love it and enjoy it a lot," Hue says. "It is a challenge for me, but I need a challenge."

After several months of taking the higher-intensity class, Hue says her balance has improved. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, many activities at Riderwood were changed or put on hold. The fitness center quickly pivoted by airing exercise classes on the community's on-site TV station so residents could work out from the safety of their own apartment homes.

"We were offering the class outside during the warmer months," Butler says of the boot camp class. "It will come back inside after we expand our group exercise programming.”

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