Brent Daubenspeck may be the leader of the fitness program at Dock Woods, but he’ll be the first person to tell you that it’s the residents who guide many of the program’s activities – and make them as successful as they are today. On any given day, you might find residents playing an exciting game of water volleyball, strolling through the beautiful grounds on a group walk, or testing out their dance floor skills in a Zumba class.
“Fitness has evolved over the years to become less of a daily ‘task’ and more of a way of life – and a fun component of each and every day,” said Brent. “As a result, more and more residents are joining our communities with fresh ideas from their own backgrounds and interests – and we enjoy finding new opportunities to transform these ideas into tangible programs that benefit our entire community.”
Like so many aspects of life at Living Branches, the fitness programs aim to enhance each resident’s intellectual, spiritual, and physical well-being. Let’s face it – we all know that exercise is good for the body, but in addition, it can enhance your mind, your mood, and your spiritual connection to the world around you. It also brings people together, and the Living Branches team designs almost every fitness activity to maximize the opportunities to have fun together, while doing something great for the body and mind.
“Join us at any one of our fitness classes or events, and you’ll see clear evidence that fitness and friendships go hand-in-hand,” said Brent. “For example, we’re in the middle of a cross-community water volleyball tournament right now, and sure, everyone is involved in some aspect of the game – but there’s also a lot of splashing and laughing happening in the process.”
Be Active. Feel Great. Repeat.
“I’ve heard many residents say that their calendars are more full now than they were before they retired,” said Brent. “I love hearing that, because our ultimate goal is to encourage every member of our community to live their lives to the fullest – and that’s exactly what they’re doing!”
Because of the fun and social nature of the Living Branches fitness activities, Brent rarely needs to “sell” residents on the benefits of an active lifestyle, but he knows the advantages are countless, particularly for a senior population. Spending time being physically active can increase mental capacity, prevent disease, improve healing, and increase balance, overall happiness, and even life expectancy.
“Some of my residents have expressed a concern that physical activity might open them up to the risk of injury – but we’ve learned that quite the opposite is true,” said Brent. “An active lifestyle prevents a loss of strength and enhances flexibility – fortifying your body against injury, as well as keeping you connected to the community around you for a richer life experience.”
Getting started in the Living Branches fitness or aquatics programs is far from intimidating. Team members like Brent and Tasia Adams from Souderton Mennonite Homes are filled with ideas for getting your feet wet – literally or not.
“Even doing little things can have big results,” said Tasia. “You can take a walk with a friend, spend some time gardening, play with your grandkids or a pet, or dabble in any one of our fun classes or events.”
The group activity options are countless, from classes that focus on basics like balance and strength training to popular classes like Zumba and Tai Chi. Brent is particularly proud of Dock Woods’ new arthritis water program, which, like all fitness activities, is open to residents from all Living Branches communities.
“Our therapy pool is a perfect 88 degrees, and our residents have discovered they can do so much more because of the buoyancy of the water,” said Brent. “Attendance has been growing, so word is getting around that it can make a positive impact – inside and outside the pool!”
Senior athletics have also picked up in recent years, including sports like water volleyball, croquet, bocce, ping pong, and shuffleboard. For some of the activities, the residents themselves serve as the team captains and organize inter-community games – a great way to meet new faces. This summer’s Senior Olympics, hosted at the Peter Becker Community, offered yet another wonderful opportunity to develop new friendships.
Living Branches exercise and aquatics activities are designed for residents of all fitness and mobility levels, and the staff is committed to working with each and every resident to meet unique goals and needs.
“I just met a future resident who plays squash, so he’ll likely be much more advanced in his fitness needs – but some residents just want to be able to play with their grandkids,” said Brent. “A while back, I helped a resident who wanted to be able to have a softball throw with her granddaughter when she visited, so we worked on strength training her shoulder to allow her to better enjoy those precious moments with her granddaughter.”
Keep Going. Keep Growing.
Because residents are so engaged and empowered in the Living Branches fitness and aquatics world – and are quite vocal about their ideas and desires – the offerings are continuing to expand. A new bocce court has just been installed at Dock Woods, and look for even more exciting classes, such as chair yoga, to be added to the calendar in the fall and beyond.
“I’ve had numerous jobs in the fitness world, but at Living Branches, I’m part of the family,” said Brent. “The residents genuinely care about me, and I care about them. We have so much fun together, and it’s incredibly rewarding to be a part of a community that is always willing to try new things – and to harness the power of fitness in bringing people together and enabling us to collectively lead healthier, happier, and richer lives.”