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SilverSneakers marks 10th year at Ligonier Y

| Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, 9:46 a.m.
Sean Stipp | Trib Total Media
Instructor Linda Sinemus welcomes the members of SilverSneakers. at Ligonier Valley YMCA on January 15, 2014. The group is marking 10th years in Ligonier.
Sean Stipp | Trib Total Media
Instructor Linda Sinemus leads the SilverSneakers Fitness Program at Ligonier Valley YMCA. The group is marking 10th year at the Ligonier Y. Photo taken Jan. 15, 2014

The SilverSneakers Fitness Program marked its 10th year last week at the Ligonier Valley YMCA.

Developed to promote a healthier lifestyle, the nationwide program encourages physical activity and has become a leading exercise program for older adults. Health plans around the country offer the program to eligible Medicare recipients by providing a fitness center membership to participating facilities.

Linda Sinemus has been teaching the three-days-a-week classes at the Ligonier Y for the past four years.

“The Y is a great supporter of the SilverSneakers program here in Ligonier. They really made a big to-do about our anniversary with balloons and cake to commemorate the 10-year milestone.”

The group of 25-30 regular participants includes several loyal members who have been with the program since it started.

“This is the best bunch of people I ever taught at a facility. They are all friendly, receptive and open to new things.” said Sinemus.

Jerry Stalnaker was already participating in the Off Your Rocker program sponsored by Latrobe Hospital at the Y when he decided to sign up for SilverSneakers a decade ago.

“I'm in better shape now than when I started,” said Stalnaker, 77, of Ligonier. “More seniors should take advantage of it.”

Cheri Belsick of Latrobe is also one of an original group who started 10 years ago with some friends.

“We did not have anything like this in Latrobe at the time,” said Belsick. “It's not only the exercise, it's a social event. I've met a lot of people I would have never met if I did not come here.”

Belsick, who is also a mall walker, credits her active walking habits for her good health.

“You better believe it. I'm still here,” said Belsick.

In addition to helping older adults stay healthy through exercise, the program offers an opportunity for men and women to socialize.

“It's a good thing. It keeps you young,” said Donald Warren, 77, of Cook Township. “I was already planning to join the Y when I heard about SilverSneakers, so I came to see what it was all about. I have been here ever since.”

Irene Hart of Ligonier joined with a group of neighbors 10 years ago.

“It gets me out of the house,” said Hart, 84. “It keeps me motivated about my health and it is as good as it has ever been.”

Jane Mahoney said she also attends as a way to get out of the house.

“It keeps you healthy. It gives you a good sound life,” Mahoney said.

Shirley Nipps, an avid walker who likes to play golf, said she believes in exercise as a way to stay young.

“It keeps me young and able to do other things,” said Nipps.

Rachel Pavlik, membership director for the Y, said the program serves a broad age group.

“There is no age limit for the group. However, it is geared toward lower impact exercises and that is valuable to our patrons as they grow older,” she said. “I'm impressed by the number of people in that generation who are dedicated to exercising.”

Pavlik and Sinemus agree the participants' benefit is more than exercise.

“They do not come here just for their health,” said Pavlik. “They love to be together as a group. It is a tight-knit community within the Y. It's not just for their health and welfare, they are about relationships. They come early and stay late just to talk.”

Pavlik said she would like to see more participation in the class.

“We have a lot of SilverSneakers members, but a high percentage are not coming regularly,” said Pavlik. “It's a relationship-builder and that is what makes it unique.”

For more information, call the Y at 724-238-7580.

Deborah A. Brehun is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-238-2111 or