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Healthy Living on a Budget

Gyms for Older Exercisers

Move on from the budget gyms, and step to a higher-level health club.

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Working out next to sculpted young athletes wearing compression gear can be intimidating. To feel more comfortable in your own Spandex, find a gym frequented by your age group. People ages 35 and older make up the vast majority of health club members, but some gyms attract mostly people 40 and older, and a few target older athletes.

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If you’re in your forties or older, you’re probably not as interested in a deal at a budget club such as Planet Fitness as you are in a higher-end, one-stop shop—and you have the cash to pay for it. Life Time Fitness, which has 121 centers across the U.S., may be a good match. At these centers, you can work up a sweat with a fitness regimen, relax with a massage, change your hairstyle at the salon or catch a quick snack at the café. Another bonus: Some locations have on-site child care.

Membership levels, which vary by location, range from bronze to diamond. Expect to pay at least $140 a month for the gold level, available at 53 locations, for a family of four or more. The lowest, bronze level starts at $114 for a family of four, and the diamond level, which is the highest, runs at least $324. The higher the level, the more the perks.

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Welcyon, a chain of clubs in the western U.S., markets itself as the place for the 50-and-up set. Coaches take health histories of new members and provide three sessions of one-on-one coaching, including training on air-driven resistance machines, designed for low impact. A smart-chip card plugged into each machine tracks your progress. “Our members don’t like big-box gyms—they feel lost. We’re like the TV show ‘Cheers’. Everyone knows your name,” says Will Annett, communications and content director.

For other fitness centers with age-specific programs, try your local YMCA or Jewish community center, or use AARP’s Age-Friendly Facilities and Services Locator. Once you locate a promising club, go to the website and search for active-adult or senior fitness programs.

For personal trainers with senior fitness certification go to Ace Fitness