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'Sweatin' to the oldies' at baby boomer gyms

May 14, 2013

    Paige Hill, Daily Briefing

    What is a gym once you take away the treadmills, free weights, and loud, pulsating music?

    Maybe the perfect place for the over-50 set to work up a sweat, according to a few entrepreneurs who have opened gyms that cater to baby boomers.

    "There is a big bad myth about the boomer generation being more fit, [but] in fact, the boomer generation is less fit than their parents were at [the] same age, " says Sheldon Zinberg, a physician and founder of Nifty after Fifty fitness centers, told Dorene Internicola at Reuters.

    A study published in JAMA in February also found that baby boomers had higher rates of hypertension, obesity, and diabetes and had higher cholesterol than their parents' generation.

    At Nifty after Fifty, exercise is focused on group classes, including yoga, Zumba, seated volleyball, and a self-defense class in which participants use a cane called "cane fu." According to Zinberg, the exercises target improving balance, muscle power, muscle strength, reaction time, and cognitive skills. Nifty after Fifty gyms are located throughout Arizona, California, Nevada, Texas, Virginia, and New York.

    Similarly, baby-boomer focused Welcyon gyms in Minnesota and South Dakota offer members a quiet atmosphere free from weights clanging and pop music. Soft background music includes a combination of 40s, 50s, and 60s tunes, according to husband-and-wife owners Suzy and Tom Boerboom.

    Members use "smart cards" to set resistance, count repetitions, and adjust workouts to specific genders and ages. The average age of a Welcyon gym member is 62.

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