Tennessee YMCA ends program that offered free access to senior citizens

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Thousands of senior citizens across Tennessee will have to find a new place to stay fit in 2020, as the YMCA ended its relationship with the largest senior fitness organization in the country.

After an extensive partnership, the Tennessee State Alliance of YMCAs will no longer provide free access to members of Silver Sneakers, a medicare fitness program designed to provide health and social benefits to adults aged 65 and older.

Silver Sneakers claims more than 10,000 senior citizens will be affected across the state, including many in rural communities, where the YMCA is the only fitness option.

The office for Silver Sneakers was closed for New Year’s Day, but a spokesperson told WREG in an email that the partnership will continue with more than 1,500 other YMCAs across the country outside Tennessee.

We were unable to reach the Tennessee State Alliance of YMCAs, but executive director Ted Cornelius wrote a guest column in the Tennessean when it announced the decision to part ways.

He wrote in part that the decision to split with Silver Sneakers was business-driven, and the “short-term impact will be much easier to weather than a long-term relationship with Silver Sneakers, which would impair the Y’s ability to serve seniors, children and families.”

Moving forward, Silver Sneakers members will still have free access to Planet Fitness, Gold’s Gym and other fitness options, but the organization is concerned for those with limited options.

Silver Sneakers has a list of alternative choices for fitness on its website.

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