by Alexandria Parra
WellREP provides low cost exercise classes for seniors throughout Wichita and the surrounding areas.
WellREP is a physical fitness class designed for adults aged 60 years of age and older. Wichita State University (WSU) trained graduate student instructors conduct these one-hour long classes which currently serve nearly 400 seniors in and around the Wichita area at 17 locations. This program is low-cost and over 50% of WellREP classes are implemented in areas where at least 10% of residences are impoverished. WellREP incorporates exercise regimens that assist seniors with balance, flexibility, and coordination. The dance component incorporated into these classes can improve muscular strength and endurance. Additionally, these classes promote independence and encourage socialization amongst participants. The components needed in order for WellREP to continue being successful are WSU, properly trained student instructors, and easily accessible locations.
Administration of the Program
WellREP and Dance Cardio require participants to enroll in the class through WSU. To facilitate this process for returning “students” I used an existing database to merge returning student data with the Spring 2019 registration form. After I populated registration forms they were picked up or delivered to the graduate student in charge of each site. Upon receipt of the signed registration forms I updated the database and forward registration forms to Lifelong Learning. Based on the database and registration reports, I created sign in check sheets for each site. Sign-ins were picked up or delivered to each site.
Figures 1 and 2 show participants at the Northeast Senior Center, a predominantly African American community with income levels ranging from $0-$37,000. There were 20 female participants who used exercise bands to work on upper body, lower body, core, and flexibility training.
Figure 3 shows participants at The Regent Senior Living Residence. This area is predominantly Caucasian with income levels ranging from $82,000 to over $100,000. This class was comprised of six females and three males, which used dance components and music to improve balance and coordination.
Overall, 397 participants registered for these programs with Lifelong Learning. The program has seen tremendous growth since 2017, at which time there were 150 participants. The new Cardio Dance class enrolled 110 people and WellREP enrolled 247. Spring WellREP registration was down from this past fall. Participants indicated their hesitancy to enroll due to the scholarship they receive and their misunderstanding of the tax implications. This semester we will implement a brief education session to better inform participants and potentially increase fall 2019 enrollment.
Participants at the Northeast Senior Center were engaged and lively and instructors noted significant improvements among participants. One instructor noted that a participant was unable to walk without her walker at the beginning of the program and is now able to walk without assistance.
Participants at The Regent Senior Living Residences were quiet and focused. The instructor commented that participants in the beginning of this program could not make it through the entire class without taking a break, but now a break is no longer necessary.
By assisting with WellREP, I found that there is a great need for low-cost physical fitness programs for seniors. Seniors take advantage of programs like WellREP, regardless of their financial status. They enjoy socializing with individuals their peers and it is evident that this program can improve a senior’s quality of life. The increase in participants from 2017 to 2019 demonstrates that this program has flourished and is meeting the needs of seniors regardless of their socioeconomic status.