Seniors now have a club of their own

by Jim Boyle

Reva Salfrank, an 87-year-old resident of Angel Ridge at Guardian Angels’ Elk River campus, had never been a member of a health club.

That is, until now.

She’s one of the first 35 people who have signed memberships to Club GA, the new Guardian Angels Wellness Center.

Photo by Jim Boyle
Reva Salfrank, 87, is one of the first 40 seniors to sign up for a membership at Club GA, a new wellness center at Guardian Angels, 350 Evans.

Club GA opened to the public this past Monday, and a grand opening celebration is slated for 4 to 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 1 at the wellness center. It will include a chance to tour the center, see the senior-friendly equipment and meet Kayla Lieser, Guardian Angels’ wellness coordinator.

The club’s hours are from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. It’s located at 350 Evans Ave. on the western edge of the building, known in the community as the senior dining site.

As for the grand opening, Lieser will be there to explain the benefits of exercise and membership. The club is open to Guardian Angels residents and anyone 50 years of age and older in the community.

Club GA is billing itself as Elk River’s first wellness center designed with aging adults in mind. It features HUR exercise equipment.

Photo by Jim Boyle
Kayla Lieser, Guardian Angels’ wellness coordinator, demonstrated how seniors are using the HUR brand of exercise equipment at Club GA at a recent open house. The Guardian Angels Wellness Center is open to the public for those 50 years of age and up.

Lieser has seen seniors like Salfrank go through a metamorphosis at her previous job as a wellness coordinator for CommonBond Communities, a nonprofit provider of affordable housing with on-site services.

She recalls one resident, a 90-year-old lady, at one of CommonBond’s facilities comment to her: “I have never exercised before, and I don’t think I should have to start now.”

Lieser encouraged her to give it a try, and she did. The woman went on to become a faithful regular at that center.

Among the benefits of exercise are improved health, strengthened leg and core muscles and fewer falls, Lieser says.

“I tell people it’s the cheapest medicine out there,” said Lieser, who calls doctor’s advice on exercise as an informal prescription for better health and more mobility that seniors yearn for.

Lieser earned a master’s degree in exercise physiology in 2009 and has worked in cardiac rehabilitation and as a wellness coordinator before coming to Guardian Angels.

She has experience developing and implementing senior wellness programs, including exercise instruction and wellness education.

Club GA features the HUR brand of strength training equipment, which uses smart card technology. It uses air resistance rather than stacked weights to go easy on club members’ joints.

In addition to the HUR strength and balance equipment, the wellness center also will offer access to cardio equipment and ongoing wellness programs that focus on physical, mental, social, emotional, spiritual and environmental components of wellness. Examples include but are not limited to tai chi for balance, monthly wellness talks, stretch and strengthening, nutrition and sit-and-be-fit classes.

The wellness center was birthed at the March Gala for Guardian Angels.

“We are excited about the support (the wellness center has garnered) and anxious for it to be there for seniors,” said Deb Weston, the director of fund development for Guardian Angels.