California State University, Long Beach
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LifeFit Center For Those Over 50

Published: August 1, 2013

Life Center
PHOTO BY DAVID J. NELSON

Are you over 50 and want to work out? The LifeFit Center @ The Beach might just be the perfect place for you.

“We cater specifically to the age 50-plus population,” said Ayla Donlin, director of the CSULB’s LifeFit Center @ The Beach, who is also a lecturer in the Kinesiology Department. “Our vision and our mission is to be the premier health and fitness facility for the age 50-plus population on campus and the community.”

The center strives to do that by tailoring its programs, services, fitness classes, assessments, personal training and its fee-based programing for the age 50-plus adult, a population Donlin says has different priorities than its college-aged counterparts.

“I think priorities are very different from one individual to another in general, so you can’t necessarily make a huge blanket statement,” she said, “but overall the older adult population is looking more for health parameters and improving health indices and that can be either from a preventative standpoint or maybe they are already dealing with some health issues that they need to address by eating healthier and exercising, so that’s what we can help them with.”

To get to where it is today, it’s been an interesting journey for the LifeFit Center. Frog’s Fitness, which was located in the Pyramid for years, closed in December 2010. Just as Frog’s was closing, the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) moved in, purchased a lot of its equipment and opened the Center for Active Aging in January 2011 in the same location. Many age 50-plus Frog’s members transitioned into the new center, which also housed the Kinesiotherapy clinic.

In June 2012, the Center for Active Aging closed down and renovations were done so student-athletes could move from the Department of Athletics’ workout facility in the Kinesiotherapy building into its new strength complex located in the Pyramid.

“A swap took place and the College of Health and Human Services renovated all of our space here, put in air conditioning and created some additional square footage by opening up some of the space that used to be part of the women’s locker room,” said Donlin.

The LifeFit Center has grown to encompass 17,000 square feet, which includes a 3,000-square-foot fitness studio, two group fitness studios of 1,700 square feet and the main fitness area of 7,000 square feet.

“It never feels crowded, but it does get busy at times,” said Donlin, who manages the facility along with intern coordinator Heather Mazzei and facilities coordinator Tim Trefts. “We have so many people who are delighted with the availability and opportunity to work out on the equipment. Going to a gym and not being able to get on a machine can be very frustrating, but we don’t have that problem here.”

Though the LifeFit Center indeed caters to the 50-plus age group, it also accommodates a number of Kinesiology classes and CHHS interns.

“We have a two-pronged mission that comes together,” said Donlin. “One side is to be the premier health and fitness facility for the age 50-plus community and the other is to serve as an educational laboratory for the College of Health and Human Services offering educational, research and service opportunities for students, faculty and staff. All of our spaces are shared for academic purposes as well.

“One thing that makes this a really great facility,” she added, “is that we have from 18-year-olds to 90-year-olds in the same space pursuing and making a lifelong commitment to health and fitness and serving as reciprocal inspiration to spur each other on. Part of our mission is to foster and generate intergenerational relationships, which is something I think is missing a little bit in society—the connection across all the generations.”

Donlin noted that in addition to the physical well-being that takes place at the LifeFit Center, there is a social component for members as well.

“I think the social aspect is huge for the population we serve,” she said. “A lot of our members enjoy coming here because it not only provides a health and fitness opportunity, but they come because it’s a social opportunity and that’s something we are really purposeful about.

“We also offer educational lectures, workshops and seminars and those are really well attended,” she added. “I think the older adults enjoy the cognitive piece of it, so learning about health and fitness and then being able to practically carry it out and implement it is a cool connection that we’re able to offer.”

Donlin says her staff prides itself on focusing on members, knowing their names, what they need and giving them the personal attention that they need.

“When people come here, they feel like they are part of a community because the staff knows them, the other members know them and we really try to focus on making them feel like this is their place, this is their community,” she said. “I think that’s just one thing that distinguishes us from other health and fitness facilities. We want people to be comfortable when they come here.”

And, maybe most importantly, Donlin noted it’s never too late to begin working out, believing age should never be a barrier to improving one’s health.

“We’re teaching a class right now here as part of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute programming and it’s called ‘Discover the Exerciser Within You,’” she said. “It’s about shifting your mindset from an external motivation where you are motivated by external circumstances to be motivated from within. Thinking about how you feel and how exercise will make you feel from a subjective standpoint and what motivates you. I would encourage people not to be distracted with thoughts about what other people are going to think, but to come in and just address what are their goals, how they feel and what they want to accomplish. I think that’s a challenge initially, but I think once they get that activation energy to begin the process, it’s really contagious, addictive almost, but in a positive way.”

Individuals interested in learning more about the LifeFit Center may call 562/985-2015, contact it via e-mail or visit its website.