Residents focus on fitness at Beth Sholom

fitness“Are your arms getting tired?” Certified Personal Trainer Chelby Smith asks the group around her, one arm over her head as she stretches to the side.

The participants in the exercise class at Parkside Memory are sitting in their chairs in a circle, following her lead as the Beach Boys’ “Don’t Worry, Baby” plays on her iPad.

“I enjoy the connection with the residents,” says Smith, later. “I appreciate their willingness to be fit.”

Each week, Beth Sholom offers numerous opportunities for residents to do just that through its Wellness Program. Once-a-week group exercise classes include Yoga, Sit and Be Fit and an Arthritis Foundation class. The classes are offered free of charge and are primarily chair-based, with opportunities for more mobile participants to stand.

In addition, for a monthly fee, residents and community members (those who live outside Beth Sholom) can also join Smart Moves, a senior-focused fitness program. Smart Moves offers personal training, small group fitness classes, and the use of the therapeutic pool and gym equipment at the outpatient clinic. Located adjacent to the Woods, the clinic also offers doctor-ordered physical, occupational and speech therapy.

CPT Amira Turner helped launch Smart Moves one and a half years ago, to supplement its existing programs. Certified to teach yoga and the Silver Sneakers programs, she serves as Beth Sholom’s Wellness Program coordinator.

“Mark [Finkel] has been a huge wellness advocate. He has seen the difference people are able to make in their lives,” says Turner. “Staying active is extremely important for our clients and residents. It promotes heart health, physical strength, musculoskeletal strength and reduces the risk of falls and injury. We try to incorporate strength, flexibility, cardio and balance into each of our programs when able.”

fitnessParticipants also benefit socially. “There’s a connection here because a lot of people are in similar situations,” she says. “They love to socialize. A lot of people who are still living independently really crave that social connection.”

Residents and community members can join Smart Moves for a monthly fee ranging from $20-50, depending upon the services selected. The packages are customizable, depending upon client need. Community members, for instance, can select Basic Membership for $20/month and receive two fitness assessments per year and unlimited facility use during specified hours. Members can also access additional one-on-one personal training for $30 per 30 minute session.

Exercise equipment at the outpatient clinic includes weights and cardiovascular machines such as treadmills, with some pieces modified to a senior population, such as recumbent elliptical machines and bikes with extra back support. Exercise mats are raised on platforms, so that clients do not have to sit on the floor to stretch.

Safety is important at the gym. Turner encourages participants to talk to their doctors before beginning a new exercise plan.

Almost all of her older clients begin their fitness programs with some apprehension—“about 90% of them,” she says, with a laugh. They soon gain more confidence.

“My favorite quote is `you don’t have to go fast, you just have to go.’’”

For more information about Smart Moves, please contact the Outpatient Clinic at (804) 421-5250 or email or


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