Embrace Movement With Senior Wellness Programs

by | Jun 2024

A small group of mature woman are seen participating in a fitness class together. They are each dressed comfortably as they sit on individual yoga mats and stretch out their hips and leg muscles.


A look at wellness programs for seniors in Edina.

Exercise can be intimidating at any age. Edina’s Christy Zilka has made it her mission to empower people above the age of 55 to give themselves grace, go at their own pace and view exercise as movement a body needs.  

“Exercise and movement is difficult to get started,” Zilka says. She is most known in Edina for being the face of the Agility, Balance and Core Strength (ABC) program at the Edina Senior Center. She is so dedicated to her students that she even made YouTube videos of all the exercises so they could stay fit during COVID-19. Exercise is important to her and she wants people in all stages of life to embrace the importance of movement. “Once you get started, it’s hard to stop.” 

Zilka says programs go above and beyond to keep participants active, engaged and thriving. They have the goal of creating a community. From yoga classes to aquatic aerobics, the city’s array of offerings ensures that every individual can find a fitness regimen that suits their interests, comfort level and ability. 

All have a theme of aging not being about growing older but about embracing vitality and enjoying every moment to the fullest.

Edina Senior Center

RuthAnn Metzger has been going to the Edina Senior Center for Wendy Anderson’s gentle yoga class since 2015. Participants can go at their own pace.

“It works the whole body, but it does it in a gentle way,” Metzger says. “I can’t do strenuous stuff, but I need movement for my whole body. We sit in the chair, we stand up.” Not everyone has to get down on the floor to exercise. It’s up to the participants’ ability and how comfortable they are with the exercises. Gentle Yoga also offers people a half class which just uses the chair and stand. 

“We have people in our class with arthritis and fibromyalgia and if you can’t do a movement, she will give you other options,” Metzger says.

Zilka’s ABC program has no floor exercises. In addition to balance, posture and strengthening exercises, she also teaches seniors how to get up from a fall and other safety lessons. She encourages all participants to go at their own pace and she will adjust exercises to the individual’s needs.

“As far as a workout, we do something different every class. It could be working on balance exercises, seated or standing. We always work with a chair. If we’re standing, we are behind the chair,” she says. 

Her goal is to give people a better sense of balance, posture and a new lease on life. The key aspect is the opportunity for participants to socialize. They are supportive of each other and become friends.

“They have a great sense of humor,” she says of her students. “They’ve got a sense of belonging, they’re inclusive with each other.”

That sense of belonging and camaraderie is important to Dale Borgeson, a student of Zilka.

“I do some exercises at home,” Borgeson says. The long time Edina resident has a rotator cuff injury and an artificial knee. “She’s so kind. She makes everyone laugh. She makes exercise fun. You do what you can. You make friends. We encourage each other. It’s not about winning. It’s about doing what you can.”

The senior center also offers Tai Chi.

Life Time Fitness: ARORA

Tory Quiggle has been a part of Life Time’s ARORA program—a social, educational and fitness program for older adults—for almost two years. She joined after finishing chemotherapy and radiation treatments for cancer.

“My body had just had it,” Quiggle says. She had multiple side effects including limited mobility in her shoulder. She was undergoing physical therapy when her son-in-law, who is a personal trainer, mentioned Life Time.

“I had to take a slow approach to recovery,” she says.

It offers a variety of classes and activities such as pickleball, coffee hangouts, aquatics, group classes and much more. Quiggle found success with Pilates.

“The concept is for people over 55 and for those that are a little more deconditioned,” says Kristin Wallner, an ARORA Pilates instructor at Life Time. “Pilates is extremely customizable to the individual and is highly adaptable.” There are a variety of basic and simple moves that people can build upon according to their ability. Pilates uses springs and body weight resistance for bone building.  For the general ARORA population, Wallner focuses on core strength and balance, hip hinging and mobility, shoulder mobility and strength, alignment of the  body and how to properly complete an exercise. 

“We teach a breathing method called ‘scooping’ to help strengthen the deepest core muscles. Some of my clients have had knees and hips replaced and I have had special training for that as well,” she says.

Quiggle says Pilates helped her recovery.

“It saved me. It was just this regular, gentle approach to building strength, stability. I have full range of motion in my shoulder. I can’t really say enough about my experience,” she says. “Having a program like ARORA, it motivates people to keep moving no matter what’s going on with my life.”

Pilates is offered as a private training session, semi private group training or in an ARORA Core Pilates group class. All Life Time members get a complimentary 30-minute session to see where they are at physically. Depending on that assessment, a trainer will recommend group or private lessons. 

“I recommend a private Pilates session to people who have finished physical therapy or have been away from exercise for a while. It takes time to understand the principles of Pilates such as precession of movement, centering, breathing, flow, coordination and awareness,” Wallner says.

Quiggle is a convert.

“I’m 62 and I feel stronger and more centered and more well rounded physically and mentally than I probably did 10 years ago,” she says.

Edina Senior Center, 5280 Grandview Square Suite 101; 952.833.9570; edinamn.gov

Life Time Fitness, 250 Southdale Center; 952.257.7100; lifetime.life


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