Five years ago, 80-year-old Charlotte, N.C. resident George Jacobs began a lifestyle metamorphosis. He walked into his first Healthways SilverSneakers Fitness Program class - an exercise program designed for older adults - and didn’t look back. Jacobs had never set foot inside a fitness facility, much less attended any type of group class, but he quickly took SilverSneakers’ “Fitness, Fun and Friends” to heart by attending classes, incorporating healthy life choices and leading the social activities for his classmates. When SilverSneakers was no longer available at his location, he rallied more than 60 class members, and even his class instructor, to find a new location for his fitness family – making him a true SilverSneakers champion.
This is why Healthways SilverSneakers Fitness Program is proud to recognize George Jacobs as the national winner of the 2013 Richard L. Swanson Inspiration Award. The award honors a SilverSneakers member whose healthy behavior has made a difference in his or her own life while motivating others. The Swanson Award preserves the memory of SilverSneakers founder Mary Swanson’s father, who served as the inspiration for his daughter to start the nationally acclaimed fitness program. As the national award recipient, Jacobs is joined by four Swanson Award finalists whose inspirational stories are also being recognized.
“We received hundreds of nominations from across the country for the Richard L. Swanson Award that showed the positive impacts – social, emotional and physical – the SilverSneakers program has on our members,” said Joy Powell, Fitness Market President at Healthways. “George is a true SilverSneakers champion. Embracing the physical, social and emotional elements of the program, he continues to live an active and fit lifestyle, and has inspired those in his community to do the same.”
“After enrolling at the gym and joining the SilverSneakers class, I began my whole mind and body makeover,” said George Jacobs, national winner of the 2013 Richard L. Swanson Inspiration Award. “I gained back all my independence, lost 80 pounds and completed my first 5K.”
SilverSneakers also recognizes the following Richard L. Swanson Award Finalists:
Georgiann Ash, Scott Depot, W. Va.:
After trying other workout classes in her area, Ash found her way to a SilverSneakers class. Ash enthusiastically embraced SilverSneakers and for the past five years has attended exercise classes five days a week. The classes have allowed Ash to rebuild her flexibility and endurance, stabilize her once out-of-kilter balance, reduce stress and better manage her weight. Ash describes the classes as fun and energizing and has seen great physical and mental health improvement.
Linda and Charles Chapman, Toledo, Ohio:
This husband-and-wife team is supporting each other’s fitness goals through SilverSneakers. Suffering from diabetes, Linda Chapman wanted to improve her health and made it a goal to be more active so she could really enjoy retirement. After a few weeks of classes her doctor was able to lower her medications and she is now working toward eliminating her insulin altogether. Impressed with her improvements, Linda’s husband Charles Chapman started attending SilverSneakers classes in hopes of losing weight and improving his overall health. After seven months, Charles lost 31 pounds and is enjoying his new, healthier lifestyle.
Bruce Meyer, Englewood, Colo.:
After dodging any exercise for more than 30 years and suffering a heart attack, Meyer knew it was time to focus on his health and fitness. Reluctantly, Meyer went with his wife to his first SilverSneakers yoga class and was hooked. With improved health, Meyer has been attending classes weekly for the past four years and can even be found letting loose at a Latin dance class.
Ruth Myers, Hudson, Fla.:
At 100 years old Myers shows no signs of slowing down. A socialite in her SilverSneakers Classic class, Myers makes time to introduce herself to new members and share stories with her old friends. Myers takes care of her health - both mind and body - to ensure she can continue to enjoy her SilverSneakers classes, her friends and her life.
The award-winning SilverSneakers Fitness Program uses proven methodologies based upon more than 20 years of science and outcomes. The SilverSneakers Fitness Program increases physical activity in older adults, resulting in higher well-being and lower health care costs. SilverSneakers engages participants in more frequent strength training, aerobic, and flexibility exercise through access to a variety of venues and programming designed specifically for older adults that incorporates social experiences.
SilverSneakers is available to over 10 million eligible members through many Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Supplement carriers and group retiree plans. The SilverSneakers fitness center network offers convenient access to more than 11,000 participating fitness and wellness facilities nationwide.
Healthways will begin accepting nominations for the 2014 Richard L. Swanson Inspiration Award next spring.
Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) is the largest independent global provider of well-being improvement solutions. The Company offers the award-winning SilverSneakers Fitness Program, the nation’s leading exercise program designed exclusively for older adults. Dedicated to creating a healthier world one person at a time, the Company uses the science of behavior change to produce and measure positive change in well-being for our customers, which include employers, integrated health systems, hospitals, physicians, health plans, communities and government entities. We provide highly specific and personalized support for each individual and their team of experts to optimize each participant’s health and productivity and to reduce health-related costs. Results are achieved by addressing longitudinal health risks and care needs of everyone in a given population. The Company has scaled its proprietary technology infrastructure and delivery capabilities developed over 30 years and now serves approximately 45 million people on four continents. Learn more at www.silversneakers.com or www.healthways.com.