Meet Your 2021 SilverSneakers Member of the Year!

By Nancy Fitzgerald |

At 98, Margaret Masters is still going strong, loving life, and Zooming to Zumba.

Margaret Masters 2021 SilverSneakers Member of the Year

Nobody makes it to ninety-eight (and-a-half) without a few bumps in the road. Consider Margaret Masters. Just this past year, her house got hit by a hurricane, her living room ceiling collapsed, her television was smashed to smithereens, and she came down with a nasty case of shingles. 

But here’s the thing about Margaret: She doesn’t let any of it keep her down. When things go wrong — even when she had to evacuate her home in New Orleans — she has a way of looking on the bright side. “My daughter and son-in-law came and got me and drove me up to their house in Michigan,” she recalls. “It was a joy to be there. I was blessed to have such a nice place to stay — it was perfect for me.”  

The best part: “My daughter fixed up her computer for me, so I could just go off into my bedroom and do my SilverSneakers classes online.”   

Obstacles Become a Source of Motivation 

That’s the kind of dedication that got Margaret named the 2021 SilverSneakers Member of the Year. She joined SilverSneakers a few years back, when the gym that she and a friend had been attending shut down.   

“We loved exercise, so when somebody told us that there were classes just for seniors at the Humana insurance office in New Orleans, we decided to give it a try — and I’m glad we did,” she says.  

Before long, Margaret was a SilverSneakers regular. She does Zumba a couple of times a week, plus SilverSneakers Yoga and the SilverSneakers Stability class. “And the best part of all the classes is our instructor Deana,” says Margaret, of her local SilverSneakers trainer Deana Palmisano Lejarza. “She works hard at it and never, ever lets us down. She makes every class so much fun.”   

Margaret’s Fitness Secret: Do What You Love 

For Margaret, exercise comes naturally. That’s because she’s never looked at it as something she had to do. Instead, she viewed it as something she got to do. 

“I’ve always been active,” she says. “I loved dancing during World War 2 — we’d dance the jitterbug half the night away.”  

As she got older, dance nights turned into daytime walks and fitness dance classes. “Zumba class is my favorite because of the music. My favorite song is Sangria Wine.”  

SilverSneakers is a fun social event too. “Friends are a big part of the experience,” she says. While her gym is currently only hosting online classes, Margaret says one of her favorite parts of each class continues to be after the music stops. “It’s fun to sit and talk and visit,” she says. “We do some of that online now, but it’s not exactly the same.”  

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Even though she’s looking forward to in-person classes again, Margaret says she and her SilverSneakers pals managed to arrange a couple of get-togethers at a nearby park. “It was so awesome seeing people I hadn’t seen in such a long time!”  

Feeling the SilverSneakers Love — and Sending it Right Back 

Being named Member of the Year was a thrill for Margaret. Her family threw her a big party, with balloons and a cake decorated with … sneakers! And now, home again in New Orleans, she’s back to her usual cycle of classes and enjoying the extra attention that comes with her new honor.   

“They say I got more votes for the award nomination than anybody ever had. But I know it’s just because all the members are so awesome,” she says. “They think everything I do is neat and special. I say to Deana, ‘Don’t you think they’d get tired of this old lady?’ But I guess they don’t. And if I’m special to them, then they’re even more special to me.” 

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