by Vickie Jenkins, Staff Writer
Welcome to Healthy Living and Fitness, (Healthy Living OKC) where their vision is to provide state-of-the-art health and wellness services, empowering adults to become avid health consumers responsible for their well-being and fulfillment of their personal goals.
I spoke with Claire Dowers-Nichols, Executive Director. Claire spent her career developing programs to better service older Oklahomans. Most recently, she spent seven years at the University Of Oklahoma Department Of Geriatrics Medicine; she co-founded the Community Relations Director for the Oklahoman Department of Human Services, Aging Services. Claire serves in a variety of leadership and advisory roles for state and national organizations and is devoted to making her community an ideal place for active adults.
“We are the first Healthy Living and Fitness Center in Oklahoma City as far as being a MAPS 3 project. We have been here at this location for about 18 months,” Claire said. “The next location to build one will be in south Oklahoma City. OK. We actually have about 5,275 members now and about 630 of them visit our center every day. The growth in numbers of people has grown so fast. It is amazing! It was an answered need for seniors to have a place like this. We couldn’t be more thrilled!”
I was curious to know why Claire left her job to come work here. She replied with a positive answer. “This is definitely where I want to be. Love it! I have always been interested in the aging process. Now, it seems like aging is such an important part of life. One goal is to make aging sexy! Everyone wants to stay healthy with their diet and exercise. This is just a way of helping things along. Aging is such a wonderful process; it’s a form of self-expression now. Why, we have a member that is 100 years old and she is in better shape than me,” Claire said with a laugh.
The mission at Healthy Fitness and Living is to provide a facility and programming that will improve the physical and emotional wellness of northwest Oklahoma City adults with programs that help adults connect and provide a community through social wellness activities and initiatives, to provide access to professional and recreational physical fitness activities, to provide education and support on current adult related issues, to offer wellness coaching and social programming that will nurture emotional health and to reverse current poor health statistics.
“Let me tell you a little more about Healthy Living and Fitness,” Claire said. “Members are accepted if they are 50 years and older. We offer a variety of classes; the latest and greatest exercise equipment, fitness classes, water aerobics, guitar lessons, ukulele lessons, line dancing, arts and crafts, jewelry making, ballet, belly dancing, Tai Chi, yoga, Zumba, creative writing, drama class…we have just about anything you would want! We also have pool tables, and large rooms that can be rented out for special occasions. There’s even a group that meets each week with someone explaining how to keep up with your grandchildren by learning to use an iPhone. There are 9 different fitness instructors that rotate their schedules. The hours for Healthy Fitness and Living, Inc. are Monday through Thursday 5:30 a.m.-8:00 p.m., Friday, 5:30 a.m.-7:00 p.m. and Saturday 7:30a.m.-4:00 p.m. We are closed on Sundays. Membership cost is $30.00 a month single, $50.00 a month for couples. No annual contract. Payment can be made month to month. Most of our members really like that part,” Claire said.
What is your favorite part of your job? I ask Claire. “I really enjoy the art programs that we have here. When I see the members doing their art work, it is very special. It’s also very therapeutic too. It doesn’t matter if you are with a group of old friends, or a group of new friends, it is good for all; it’s just another way of socializing.”
Claire does a little bit of everything at work. One of her challenges is keeping up with the growing number of members. “It’s a good challenge though, definitely not a problem,” she said with a smile. We try to have at least 4 special events throughout the year.” (Car shows, special events). “Our members come here for several different reasons. Diet and exercise, socializing with others, to lose weight and learn how to eat the right way, to relieve stress, and just to have FUN,” Claire comments.
Who knows…maybe it’s time for ME to take those guitar lessons.