Aging Well at the Gym

Splendido’s circuit training class is tailored to maximize benefits for each participant. Here, resident Deanna Sides works out with help from trainer Ryan Wuest.

If you want a quick and comprehensive workout that continues to burn calories long after your session ends—or you tend to get bored with your fitness routine—consider Aging Well with circuit training. Circuit training is a fast-paced, intensive workout that involves cycling through multiple types of exercise in order to work different muscle groups. For example, you might rotate among stations that involve weights, floorwork like lunges or pushups, exercise bands or balls, and cardio equipment, spending about a minute at each station and quickly rotating around them for fifteen minutes or half an hour. 

An Effective Workout for All Ages

Splendido, an all-inclusive community for those 55 and better in Oro Valley, has a circuit training class for residents that meets for 30 minutes three times a week. “We’ll have one station per participant, and each person does two or three rotations of all stations during the class, spending 30 to 60 seconds at a station, explains Todd Lutz, the Get Fit coordinator at Splendido. “We ask people to show up ready to work out, so they’ll stretch and warm up on their own, and we get right to it.” 

The class includes an ever-changing selection of cardio stations and balance exercises as well as weights and stretching geared toward older adults. “We try to vary it and keep in fresh and challenging. We can also adjust it to suit participants’ abilities and levels,” Todd says.

Judy Carr, who’s been taking the class for about six years, says “They’ll show us three ways to do each exercise, from easy to harder, so we can each work at our own level. That way the class can be as advanced as people want it to be.”

The intensity and full-body workout of circuit training “keep the calorie burn higher, and that calorie burn continues after the class,” adds Todd. “Unlike, say, taking a walk, you can keep burning calories for 30 minutes or an hour after the class ends.” It is an effective workout that can be done in less time than a typical visit to a fitness center. Judy adds, “It’s a good class because it addresses a variety of things, from your upper body to your balance.” 

Improves Physical, Social & Mental Health

An added health benefit to taking a regular class like circuit training is making social connections. Research shows that people who work out in a group had greater improvements in mental, physical, and emotional health than those who worked out alone or with a partner. And a Japanese study found that older adults who exercised in groups “felt socially connected and experienced a sense of security in the community through caring for others and supporting each other.”

Splendido’s class is mostly composed of long-term devotees who have formed friendships outside the fitness center. “I created this class maybe seven years ago, and the participants have largely stayed the same,” says Todd. “It’s a tight-knit group that has a great time while they’re here.”

Deanna Sides can attest to that. She started attending the circuit training class soon after she and her husband moved to Splendido six years ago. “It’s a way to work on my health and my balance—which in turn can enhance my mental health,” she says. “The class is an important part of my life. There’s a social aspect as well; after class, we’ll adjourn to the café to sit and talk and share stories.”

Judy adds, “We encourage each other in class, and afterwards we’ll all sit around and laugh—they say that’s the best medicine!”

An Option for Aging Well

Circuit training can be tailored to suit one’s abilities and fitness level, so in an environment like Splendido, adults of any age can partake and reap the benefits of the class. “There’s a gal who works out with us who’s 94!” says Deanna. “She doesn’t do the same [level of exercise] that we do, but she does it! She’s a great example of staying active.”

Look into local options for circuit training and give it a try—you may find it’s the perfect way to end exercise boredom, get a good workout, and even form some good social connections!

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