A Love for Fitness Unleashed

How a furry friend became a fitness coach — and an inspiration 

women holding dog

Meet Gremlin, the adorable pug who stole Darlene’s heart. Darlene also credits Gremlin, in addition to a few other pups she’s owned, with introducing her to a newfound passion: fitness.

Of course, that wasn’t always the case. Darlene, mother of three and grandmother of four from Horsham, Montgomery County, worked as a medical transcriptionist until her 70th birthday. “I did most of my work sitting down,” recalls Darlene. “In my 50s, I started going through menopause and was putting on some weight. I figured I’d better start moving.”

The joy of exercise 
Around that time, Darlene also became a pet parent. First one dog, then another, and finally she had three pups at one time. “I started walking them every day,” says Darlene.

Although Darlene still walks with her current pup, Gremlin, she sometimes leaves her at home. But those leash-holding days opened up a whole new world of fitness for Darlene and showed her that exercise can be fun. 

“SilverSneakers keeps me on the right path and makes me feel better about myself.”
 — Darlene Ray, Horsham, Montgomery County

From dog-walker to class-goer 
The realization that fitness can be enjoyable gave Darlene the confidence to try SilverSneakers® through her Independence Blue Cross plan. Although hesitant at first, after sampling a few programs, she ended up at her local YMCA. Now she rarely misses a class.

“I couldn’t be in better shape at my age ...”
Darlene, who is 83, now sees exercise as an investment in her life. “As you get older, you don’t want to lose the abilities you have,” she says. “SilverSneakers keeps me on the right path and makes me feel better about myself.”

You can catch her at the YMCA five days a week, taking two arthritis classes, a yoga session, and a couple of balance classes.

She credits the balance class with helping her avoid an injury when she once tripped over a rug.

Darlene enjoys the social factor, too. “It’s really nice exercising with other seniors — nobody laughs at you because we’re all in the same boat! When class is over, I always feel better.” She often meets friends she’s met through SilverSneakers for lunch.

But she’s always happy to come home to Gremlin. After all, she’s the one who inspired Darlene to get fit in the first place.

Is she glad she joined SilverSneakers? “I couldn’t be in better shape at my age.”

Did a SilverSneakers® class change your outlook on fitness? Send us your story at silversneakers.com/mystory.

The SilverSneakers fitness program is provided by Tivity Health, Inc., an independent company. ©2020. All rights reserved. Always check with your doctor before beginning a new type of exercise.