The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

January 8, 2014

SilverSneakers: Local seniors invite others to take part in SilverSneakers FLEX fitness program

By Lora Scripps

ATHENS — It was cold and though the mercury was dipping into the teens, about a dozen seniors made their way to the Athens Senior Center Monday for a workout.

The dedicated seniors grabbed weights, exercise balls and tension bands and readied themselves for the 45-minute workout before Grand Funk Railroad’s “The Locomotion” filled the air.

The group is part of the SilverSneakers fitness program. On Monday, they were taking part in a SilverSneakers FLEX class led by Janet Hunt, 58, an ACE-certified SilverSneakers FLEX instructor as well as a lifestyle and weight management consultant, personal trainer and group fitness instructor.

SilverSneakers, a national program, was designed as a fun, energizing fitness program that helps older adults take greater control of their health by encouraging physical activity. The SilverSneakers FLEX group averages around 20 participants per session. “I had as many as 34,” Hunt said. “That was a largest class.”

Hunt’s class is offered at the Athens Senior Center from 8:30 a.m. until 9:15 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Donations are accepted.

“We follow the SilverSneakers format,” Hunt said. “We do a full body workout including some cardio and strengthening for all the major muscle groups in the body.”

The class is offered at the Senior Center, but Hunt said anybody take part in the workout.

A lot of the participants are 55 and older and include both men and women. “The oldest I have had, I believe, was over 90,” Hunt said.

Hunt believes those who take part in the workout will reap the benefits including becoming stronger and more mobile as well as losing weight.

Johnny Crutcher, 80, will vouch for that. He has been taking the class since April. He said his wife, Ann, talked him into it.

“I’ve lost three inches in my waist,” Crutcher said, adding he is getting around a lot better than he used to. He blames that on the squats.

“It’s good for everybody,” he said,

Joyce James, 80, graduated from Athens High School with Johnny. She has been taking SilverSneakers classes since 2002.

James’ late husband, who attended the classes before his death, was a pharmacist and owned a drug store. She said that with his background she knew she had to get plenty of exercise. She also has neuropathy in her legs and believes the exercise helps.

“People need to exercise,” she said. “It makes you feel so much better.”

She said the class might not seem very pleasant to start with, but after some getting used to, “It’s a good thing.”

Janice Lindsay, 64, said she got to where she couldn’t walk on her hip. “Now, it is way better,” she said.

Janice has been taking part in class since July and has lost 8 pounds. “Even though I have only lost 8 pounds, I can tell it in my clothes,” she said. “I feel better.”

When it comes to health and fitness, Janice believes people need to do what they can do until they can do it better.

Brenda Winter and Lindsay are close friends. They started around the same time and have continued to meet at SilverSneakers classes.

“I don’t hurt like I used to,” she said. “I don’t feel tired like I used to. I’m able to think clearer.”

Winter’s advice to others is “just show up. Don’t even worry about what is going to happen. Show up, get you a chair and listen.”

Crutcher, James, Winter and Lindsay all love the class, which socializes together when they get the opportunity. They also like their instructor. “Janet is consistent and so compassionate and understanding,” Winter said. “We love her.”

When it comes to SilverSneakers, Hunts said, “Give it a shot. What do you have to lose?”

For those who don’t live nearby, Hunt is also starting a “Walk and Tone” class at Rogersville United Methodist Church from 8:30-9:15 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

To find out more about the SilverSneakers FLEX class contact Janet Hunt at 256-614-3530, email or visit