Our communities host Ageless Grace® classes, a brain-body fitness program that activates cognitive strength and much as physical strength.
Leading the classes are Prestige Senior Living wellness coaches, who oversee and lead fitness programming for our residents to keep them healthy and strong.
One of those wellness coaches is Korri Nelson, and we interviewed her about the Ageless Grace® program.
Before getting into Ageless Grace®, what’s your background and how did you get to Prestige?
Korri Nelson: “I’ve been teaching a variety of group exercise classes for roughly 30 years. Initially it was a hobby, and something I kept up with while staying home and raising my kids. The athletic club where I was employed needed instructors to teach their senior classes, so I became Silver Sneakers certified and turned my focus to that demographic. I found myself in a position where I was needing a full-time position right when Prestige was introducing wellness coaches into their buildings, so I applied for the job, and here I am. That was six years ago last month.”
Why do you enjoy working with older adults?
KN: “It’s fun for me because older adults like the social aspect of class more so than some of the other groups I’ve taught, it seems. They want to have fun and engage with each other during classes. I also realized how important it is to keep our bodies moving while we age. I’ve noticed that with myself as I get older. Staying active can make a big difference with doing daily tasks, staying independent, safe, and enjoying the fun activities that bring us joy in our lives. I enjoy showing older adults that staying active and ‘move-able’ is doable at whatever age we find ourselves.”
Can you tell us about Ageless Grace®?
KN: “Ageless Grace® is a brain and body program that is based on the concept of neuroplasticity and the brain’s ability to continue to create new neuropathways as we get older. We incorporate our imaginations and move our bodies in creative ways, unlike regular choreographed, traditional fitness classes. Denise Medved, the creator of Ageless Grace® says that the brain’s primary function is to move the body. So, the best way to really stimulate the brain and create more neuropathways is to move the body in ways that are very natural and creative. Add music and the safety of sitting in a chair, and it’s the ideal class. It’s also fun, and very social.”
As you’ve been doing Ageless Grace®, what kind of outcomes have you seen?
KN: “Since it encourages a lot of natural organic movement, I see a lot of improvement with just better overall flexibility and even agility improvements with the residents. For instance, a resident may say they have difficulty with stiff shoulders and express their movement limitations which will keep them from going to an exercise class. But in Ageless Grace®, we are mimicking doing things that we do (or have done) in our lives. We may mimic combing our hair, or raking leaves, brushing our teeth or playing a trumpet, and because it’s a natural movement (and also utilizing our memory recall of having done or seen those things being done) they are able to easily perform them, sometimes without even realizing that they just exercised their shoulders.”
And what about the residents, what do they say about how Ageless Grace® has impacted them?
KN: “A lot of times I’ll notice them moving better before they notice, because we often take our ability to move comfortably for granted. It’s easier to notice when we can’t do something rather than when we can. But I have had residents tell me that they’re able to turn over in bed easier, or put on their shoes, get up from a chair better and even walk to the dining room without having to stop and rest. They’re able to now do some of the personal hygiene tasks that they struggled with before. And so those have been the most rewarding comments to hear because that’s what it’s all about. Giving them the opportunity through these classes to increase their fitness so they can stay active and do all of the tasks needed to keep them independent.”
Does the fact that Ageless Grace® is performed seated help people feel at ease?
KN: “Oh, yes, I think it does because it levels the playing field and allows participation for people of all ages and fitness levels. It alleviates the fear of ‘Will I be able to do it?’ because right off the bat we know that everybody has the ability to sit and move in a chair. It also encourages the residents in wheelchairs to attend. Not only is it better for the brain to have to ‘figure out’ how to do, say, swimming from a seated position, but if they get tired they already have a built in ‘rest’ break option, because they’re already sitting. It takes away the perceived assumption that it’s going to be something they won’t be able to do.”