Kim Pinkham is in the best shape of her life: She is stronger and more flexible than she was 20 years ago thanks to her routine of meeting with friends three to four mornings a week to work out in the pool. She also just turned 73 and recently recovered from a hip replacement.
Pinkham is a member at Life Time Crosstown in Eden Prairie, Minn., and she credits the programs at her club for profoundly changing her life. “My friends can’t believe how much energy I have,” she says. “Even with a bad hip, I was swimming up until the day before surgery. I couldn’t walk, but I could swim. And I went into my surgery with strong, limber legs.”
Pinkham actively participates in many of the programs offered through the ARORA community at Life Time. “It fits my generation and those who want to stay fit and challenged. It’s a form of community I haven’t found anywhere else,” she shares.
We spoke with Pinkham and a few other ARORA community members about their experience with this program and the benefits they’ve enjoyed — all with the goal of shedding light on how others can make the most of their memberships, too.
1. Strong Social Connections
From classes, workshops, and events to twice-weekly coffee club gatherings, ARORA offers many opportunities to make connections with others who share your interests. “One of my favorite things about the club is the people,” says Pinkham. “Through my ARORA Aqua class, we have built an amazing community of friends who support and care for each other. We laugh a lot, too! As a single woman, I am so looking forward to social events and mixers geared toward my generation.”
“My husband is a real socialite, and since he’s retired now, he needs people,” adds Debbie Johnson, a Life Time member in Lakeville, Minn. “He comes home from Life Time with so many stories, and I’m really enjoying hearing about who he’s playing pickleball with or who was in his class that day.”
While the ARORA programming is designed for active, older adults, it’s welcoming and allows for interaction with people of all ages and stages of life.
“It’s fun to have a wide variety of ages,” says Carol Thorpe, also a Life Time Lakeville member. “I think younger and older people feel comfortable in the ARORA Aqua class — really, every age feels comfortable.”
Some members even extend the fun and organize activities outside the club. For instance, a few members at the Lakeville location formed a Tuesday movie-club group. “We send out an email so people can join,” says Life Time member Mike Harris. “If it’s one of our instructor’s birthdays, we take them out to celebrate. It becomes more social than anything else.”
2. So Many Ways to Get Active
Regular exercise is a crucial part of healthy aging, but as the years pass, our bodies and abilities can change and present new challenges. ARORA classes and workouts are specifically designed for people ages 55 and older to help combat this age group’s concerns and conditions.
“I enjoy trying different classes from time to time,” says Pinkham. “I dabble in yoga, strength training, barbell classes, Zumba, cycling, and more. I also enjoy the treadmills, bikes, and equipment on the workout floor.”
There are currently seven different ARORA class formats on the schedule — with plans for more in the works — as well as several other ARORA-friendly classes. These focus on improving muscular strength, cardiovascular endurance, and mobility, balance, and flexibility.
ARORA Aqua is one of the most popular classes for this community: Low-impact exercise in the pool produces less strain on the joints than land-based workouts, and the added resistance from the water helps improve strength and cardio endurance.
“I applaud the effort that the club is taking to give people of age some alternatives,” Harris adds. “The best so far has been the water because of the buoyancy you feel. As you get a little bit older, sometimes the mobility factor doesn’t stay. You lose some of that leg work, but the water helps.” (Explore ARORA class options in “Which ARORA Class Is Right for You?”)
If you’re looking for individual instruction, ARORA offers certified trainers (at an additional cost) who specialize in working with older adults. These fitness professionals are knowledgeable about and focus on addressing factors that can come with age to develop the right plan for you. (Learn more at “Aging Active and Fit: Introducing ARORA-Certified Personal Training.”)
3. Opportunities to Try Something New
Trying new sports isn’t just for kids. Pickleball continues to grow in popularity, and if you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, an ARORA pickleball mixer or open play at Life Time is the perfect place to do so. With a quick learning curve, pickleball is easier to play as the ball travels slower compared to other racquet sports.
The movements you make during each game can also help sharpen your balance and coordination.
“I will play pickleball as long as my body will allow me to,” says Johnson. “I love open play pickleball because I can come and go as I please. It’s part of my everyday routine.”
(Explore more benefits of adult sports at “Stay in the Game.”)
4. Experts Who Share Their Knowledge
If you’ve ever wondered whether you’re getting the necessary fuel and nutrients for your body, or if a new skincare routine is what you need — you’re not alone. The experts at Life Time can help: ARORA offers monthly workshops where you can learn about various health topics in a classroom setting.
ARORA-certified trainers, dietitians, and even skincare experts are available to provide information and helpful tips, as well as answer your questions on a variety of topics — including movement, nutrition, self-care, and more. Plus, it’s a chance to connect with others who share your healthy interests and passions.
5. More Ways to Take Care of Yourself
Rest is just as important as movement, and as we age, more recovery time between workouts is crucial. After a workout or on a rest day, take some time to unwind in the whirlpool, steam room, or sauna. Growing research shows that regular sauna use can lead to decreased risk of heart attack, stroke, and even dementia. (Explore more about the benefits of heat therapy in “Taking the Heat.”)
Members like Pinkham also like to take advantage of Life Time’s peaceful lounge spaces for some much-needed down time. “The facilities at Life Time are so clean and attractive,” she says. “It makes me feel like I belong to something special, especially while sunning and reading around the pool in the summer.”