New fitness centers cater to aging baby boomers

Mon May 13, 2013 3:48pm EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Baby boomers, the generation that vowed to stay forever young, are getting older, designing senior-friendly gyms and becoming their own personal trainers.

In exercise havens for the over-50 set, the cardio machines are typically low impact, the resistance training is mainly air-powered and some group fitness classes are taken sitting down.

At Welcyon gyms, founded by husband-and-wife boomers Suzy and Tom Boerboom, the average age of members is 62.

"The environment is really designed for those 50 and over," said Suzy Boerboom.

The couple created Welcyon, which has locations in Minnesota and South Dakota, in 2009. It has no tread-mills and no free weights and workouts are customized to members' levels of fitness. A smart card sets resistance, counts repetitions and adjusts workouts.

An important attraction for many boomers: background music is a combination of '40s, '50s and '60s tunes played at a much lower volume than in traditional gyms.

"It was something I could manage," said 66-year-old Bill Zortman, one of an estimated 78 million baby boomers, defined as the group born between 1946 and 1964, who make up about 26 percent of the U.S. population, according to U.S. Census reports.

His thrice-weekly workouts at a Welcyon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, consists of riding a bicycle or using air-powered resistance machines to strengthen his legs, arms and back.   Continued...

A senior does yoga in Sun City, Arizona, January 7, 2013. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson