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Health & Wellness, Living at GreenFields of Geneva

Health and Fitness Specialist Making a Difference in the Lives of Seniors

At the young age of 23, he’s making a difference in the lives of seniors, and they’re making a difference in his.

Michael Zlotnick, an American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) certified exercise physiologist, is the health and fitness specialist at GreenFields of Geneva senior living community. He oversees and coordinates wellness programming in GreenFields’ fitness center.

With a degree in kinesiology from U.W. Whitewater, Michael said his career choice was largely shaped by the fact that he didn’t want to be an office worker. “I’m an active person. I’ve been a competitive swimmer, and kinesiology appealed to me,” he said. Having graduated in 2021, he said, he initially thought he’d be working in a clinical setting but saw the job opening at GreenFields of Geneva. “I’ve been here ever since,” he said, adding, “I look forward to coming to work every day.”

Michael’s primary responsibility is to keep the residents living at the active and engaging senior living community moving. He does so by being a consistent presence, offering something for everyone, and encouraging participation. Most of all, he likes to hang out and engage with the residents. “Sometimes they come in with a frown on their face, but they leave with a smile. That’s my goal,” he said. “I love this population. I always knew I didn’t want to work with little kids, but I didn’t know I wanted to work with older adults. I love it.”

Michael said that many residents at GreenFields of Geneva are working to increase their strength and balance in order to maintain and even enhance their independence. He is delighted to help with their progress. “Sometimes it’s slow, but residents know when they put in the time and effort with me, there’s going to be a benefit. Sometimes the residents are surprised by the extent of the progress. I love that,” he said.

Working hard to provide something to appeal to everyone, Michael offers a variety of fitness classes each week. “We have a balance class, stretching and yoga, a resistance class, and tai chi,” he said. The classes draw between 15-20 residents. “This community is really engaged. I give them a lot of credit. I fill in sometimes at other senior living communities, but the engagement at GreenFields is higher. GreenFields has just built a great wellness program with a strong foundation.” In addition to classes, residents are able to work out on state-of-the-art fitness equipment.

Michael also plans special challenges for the residents. The recent Walk to San Diego event drew approximately three dozen participants . During February, they documented the time they were up and actively moving, with all activity translating into walking ‘miles’ on their 2000+ mile ‘trip’ to San Diego. Residents tracked their progress with pins along a map of the U.S. Some enthusiastic fitness buffs made it a round trip. Everyone who finished was entered into a raffle to win a gift card to DSW for a new pair of walking shoes.

Michael also oversees the annual GreenFields Classic, which features friendly competition among the residents in physical and cognitive activities. Residents of all ability, activity, and interest levels enter events, including a free throw contest, home run derby, bocce ball, archery, and more.

Michael also brings in guest speakers once each month. Recently GreenFields hosted a cardiologist who spoke about cardiac health. “This type of program gives residents that extra incentive to work out,” he said. The resident wellness committee helps identify speakers of interest.

GreenFields has entered into an agreement with its beautiful neighboring Tanna Farms and Mill Creek Golf Course, allowing residents to golf free. In order to help resident golfers prepare for the season, Michael said, “I coordinate a program in the spring to focus on golf strengthening exercises.”

He also oversees a walking club at GreenFields. The residents regularly meet to walk the campus or the surrounding Millcreek subdivision..

Michael said that he loves helping the residents work out and equally loves visiting with them. “I know I’m making a difference in the residents’ lives, and I get that reassurance daily.”

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