Roland Ficke showed up to his first SilverSneakers class using a walker. Now he’s an enthusiastic ambassador in his SilverSneakers community.
A “people person” through and through, Roland, 82, is a SilverSneakers AmbassadorTM from Cincinnati, Ohio. Participating in SilverSneakers classes every week helps Roland keep active and connect with others – two things close to his heart.
“I don’t think I can say I enjoy exercising more than I do networking with the people. I think that is important,” Roland says. “I learn a lot by talking to people… I just really enjoy being out with [them].”
Roland realized just how much he missed that interaction when he was diagnosed five years ago with vertebral osteomyelitis, a rare infection affecting the spine. He had always led an active lifestyle but the infection sidelined Roland for six months.
“Physically, I could not move around like I had before. I needed to get my life back and get active again,” Roland explains.
Still in recovery, Roland took the first step back. Encouragement from his partner, SilverSneakers instructor John Treacy, inspired him to try a SilverSneakers class. “I went in finally on my walker,” says Roland. And he kept going back. After a few months of classes, at-home therapy and a little help from his walker, Roland was back on his feet.
“I really felt the exercise through SilverSneakers helped me get my body back working again,” says Roland, who now takes up to 10 classes a week, and spends between three and 20 hours volunteering in the community. He says staying busy helps him feel youthful and being active is the key to aging gracefully. “I’m not young, but I’m studying up on getting old,” Roland likes to say.
Roland has no intention of slowing down anytime soon and advises others to stay active and connected. “It will help your mind and body. Just do not sit down and give up,” says Roland, who always encourages his SilverSneakers classmates to get to know each other, and to invite their friends. “You feel better when you [reach out]. I know I do.”
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