Keeping the Residents Moving
Marissa Krueger can’t be deterred by age, experience, circumstances, or even by a pandemic. The wellness manager at Monarch Landing senior living community is determined to help residents live their best lives possible. She develops fitness and incentive programs that helps residents to keep up and even increase their fitness regimes despite sheltering in place.
Krueger, who has a Bachelor and Master of Exercise Science and Kinesiology, has worked at Monarch Landing for about a year. “I oversee the on-site fitness center, group exercise classes for independent living and all levels of care, and coordinate personal training for individuals. I also plan health chats and educational programs,” she said.
Krueger said that she always knew that she didn’t want to work in a corporate gym where people are working out “in order to look good in the mirror. I wanted to facilitate helping people live a better life. Working at Monarch Landing makes it easy for me to see improvements and changes in the residents’ lives. It’s more about living a good life rather than just looking good in a mirror.”
Monarch Landing, Krueger said, has “excellent fitness facilities including a beautiful swimming pool. Having these opportunities on site is awesome. And it’s essential that we have programs for every fitness level, from beginners to high intensity and everything in between!”
Krueger develops incentive programs throughout the year. Most recently, she ran what she called the Idle Ironman. “Over six weeks, participants completed the equivalent of an Ironman by running (or walking) a marathon, biking 100 miles, and swimming five miles. We had a lot of interest when the program started, and then when residents started sheltering within their apartments, it became more difficult. People started using portable pedal bikes for the biking part and walked around the building. Because the pool was closed, we let participants switch out the swimming portion with extra walking. Three people completed the entire program while in quarantine. They all got Idle Ironman t-shirts.” Krueger added that the best outcome of the program was that a participating resident told her it really helped her deal with the quarantine. “Since she was in her apartment all the time, she said it gave her motivation and kept her going during this difficult time.”
Aside from incentive programs during sheltering in place, Krueger is keeping residents active through exercise videos that are streamed through the in-house television to the residents’ apartments several times a day. “We have different ability levels and include seated and standing exercise and balance classes,” she said. “I also coordinate a lot of in-home programs. I talk to the residents and see what they want and need, and then put together a hand-out with descriptions of a fitness regime just for them.”
Krueger said that people who would not typically be exercising are participating and, in fact, enjoying the videos within their apartments. “I think it’s partly because there are fewer activities going on now, so there’s less of an excuse not to exercise. Additionally, people who perhaps have mobility or vision issues are more comfortable working out within their apartments. Our plan is to continue to run fitness videos on the in-house television even when our regular fitness schedule begins again because it’s been so successful in reaching a new group of people.”
Most recently, Krueger set up an outdoor fitness circuit. With the warmer weather and the campus’s beautiful grounds, residents and even staff are enjoying the opportunity to exercise outside while maintaining social distancing. “There are eight fitness stations around the perimeter of the campus. They don’t require any equipment. It’s a different exercise at each station. A resident whose window overlooks one of the stations told me that he sees people working out all day long,” she said.
Krueger said that her favorite part of her job working with seniors is hearing positive stories about how well the residents are doing and feeling. “It doesn’t take an enormous amount of effort before they start seeing a big difference in their wellness, strength, and balance. It’s rewarding to me and rewarding to them to be able to live a fuller life being more active and independent,” she said.
Krueger cited one of her favorite testimonials. A gentleman who recently turned 90 told her that he’d never had the time or opportunity to work out before he retired. Now, with the fitness center on-site and instruction and assistance available, he’s exercising regularly. “He told me he’s in the best shape of his life. It’s so rewarding!”