Richard Groff and Art Gates (pink shirt)

Of the Keizertimes

When Colin Leech suffered a second stroke in three years, he knew where to go to hasten his recovery.

Leech is a veteran of Silver Sneakers, the nationally-recognized program offered at the Courthouse Athletic Club in Keizer. It’s here where Leech’s physical therapist sent him after suffering his first stroke three years ago.

“Well, when I had that first stroke, I couldn’t put my pants on without leaning up against something. Coming here, I’ve got my balance back,” Leech said. “Then, I had this minor stroke. So I’m working on that now.”

Following the second stroke, Leech couldn’t take two steps without having to hold onto something.

“When I first came back, I had a walker, and I did that for about a week. Then I had a cane. But I couldn’t figure out how to use a cane, so I just started walking,” said Leech. “I still have days where I lose my balance if I move too quick. But other than that I think I’m doing pretty well.”

Julia Goin has her own success story to share.

“I was injured in an automobile accident involving a drunk driver,” Goin said when asked of her motivation to join. “My injuries included a fractured scapula and four fractured ribs along with vision problems.”

The recuperative powers of Silver Sneakers caught her by surprise.

“It’s kind of like physical therapy on steroids, because instead of just concentrating on one spot, like physical therapy does, it’s for the whole body,” said Goin. “I’ve enjoyed Silver Sneakers because it’s easy to do and you get flexibility and strength training.”

Goin, a former race walker, was physically fit before the drunk driver slammed into her. She suffered further injury when she fell and broke her kneecap in January.

“I didn’t know how important a kneecap was when I broke it. But anyway, so after physical therapy, I came back still wearing a leg brace … It’s just really helped me to get back to where I was before,” she said.

Silver Sneakers is an exercise program that specializes in increasing balance, flexibility, range of motion and strength.

“We use bands, weights, balls. There’s chairs for people who need assistance with their balance,” said Christa Gilbert, who has taught the class in Keizer for 10 years. “Silver Sneakers is really about helping people stay active in their lives. So picking up your groceries, grabbing and hugging your grand kids, putting things away on high shelves You know, those kinds of things. It’s to help maintain that in your life.”

The population served is generally 65 and older. But that’s not always the case.

“Ladies who are pregnant. People who are recovering from an injury or surgery,” said Gilbert of those who benefit from participation. “Lots of things can prompt you to exercise in different ways than you’re used to in your life, so the age range varies.”

What constitutes a good workout is determined individually.

“You can get a good workout even sitting in a chair,” said Gilbert. “You always want to honor your body and do as much as you possibly can. But there are good things that can happen to you in any activity.”

Silver Sneakers is widely respected in the medical community because it generates positive results in the treatment of such things as diabetes and high blood pressure, not to mention promoting recovery from surgeries and strokes.

In addition, there’s a socialization component to Silver Sneakers.

“We’re a family. New members are absorbed into that family,” said Gilbert. “We’re so appreciative for all of the new faces that we get to see and for all the people we get to share our lives with.”

Anyone interested in joining the class is encouraged to review their medical insurance policy. The monthly enrollment charge is covered in some plans.

In Keizer, classes are held Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.