- Partnerships! Based on research Let’s Move in Libraries conducted with the U.S. National Institute on Aging in Spring 2019, chair-based exercises are typically offered in partnership with other individuals and organizations.
Common partners reported by librarians include: Community and senior centers (part of parks and recreation), individual instructors (i.e. certified Yoga teachers/Master Tai Chi instructors), gyms such as YMCAs, fitness and yoga studios, area agencies on aging, community arts groups, hospitals, and more! You can also use technology to offer chair-based exercises at your library. Some technology-partners mentioned by librarians include: Geri-Fit and ChairOneFitness. You may also have certified staff already working at your library! See if you do.
- Why exercise in a chair? You can get a full-body workout in from the safety of your chair. By doing chair-based exercises, you make fitness and physical activity more inclusive for individuals of different abilities. Most major forms of group exercise have chair-based versions, including Yoga, Tai Chi, and Zumba. There are also special fitness programs designed to be done in a chair, such as Geri-Fit and Chair One Fitness. Finally, there are chair-based exercises designed exclusively to help aging adults build and retain balance, mobility, and strength, such as A Matter of Balance, Silver Sneakers, Morning Mind and Body, Ageless Grace, Stretch and Movement.
- What do librarians have to say about how they got started?
- “I have worked with two fitness instructors to help lead the chair-based exercise programs. After doing two rounds of Geri-Fit, my patrons expressed that they were getting tired of the same old exercise routine. So I brought in a senior fitness instructor who held class at the library twice a week for 4 weeks. My patrons loved her so much, that I found another instructor to do another 4 week series of classes twice per week. My goal is to intermingle the Geri-Fit DVDs with actual instructors to make sure my seniors are getting the most out of their time here at the library.”
- “We saw the study being conducted with Geri Fit, and thought it sounded like a great fit for our patrons. They have loved it so far, and we are continuing it almost a year later!”
- “A local assisted living facility asked me to teach classes in their facility after they learned that I teach fitness classes at the library. I quickly discovered that I needed to teach chair based classes at the facility, which I am also beginning to implement at the library.”
- “Staff librarian had experience and professional interest in chair based exercise. Pursued local professionals to offer “demo” or introductory classes to library customers. Professionals were not paid, but allowed to display business cards, brochures, etc.”
- “Chair yoga was added in as another form of exercise, we noticed that some of the seniors we service loved setting down as they worked out, so we incorporated into our fitness work.”
- “We decided to offer our popular Yoga classes in chairs”
- “We participated in the Geri-Fit study and received the discs and training for free.”
- “Our Technical Services librarian became an RYT 200, and had a bit of Chair Yoga as part of her training. She thought it would be a great program for us to offer”
- Add your voice! Use this form to help us build this Program Idea page.
- Important safety information Whatever you do, do it safely! Make sure that participants are aware that they are exercising at their own risk. Having them sign waivers of liability is a smart practice. You can see example forms here. The benefits of regular physical activity are immense! You just want to make sure that safety comes first. Working with your partners and with your town or county government can help you ensure that your chair-based exercises are offered in a safe way for all.
- Other things to consider, according to librarians:
- “Think of how many other locations seniors can work out for free in your community. If there are many options for them, offering chair-based exercises may not be very successful. If there are not many options, be prepared for an influx of library users. This is what happened with me and I have been working with the same group for almost a year now.”
- “Be mindful that many people in chair-based fitness classes take the class due to balance and stamina issues, so plan accordingly.”
- “Demographics, targeted audience. This will influence your pick of day/time; instructor availability.”
- “Treat community professionals like royalty. I give them a Kind bar and certificate of appreciation, gift certificate to pick a book from our used book sales. As mentioned earlier, allow them to display business cards and brochures and “casually” mention their practice. It can be a delicate balance. I make it clear the emphasis is education not personal business promotion. To date is has worked.”
- “Reading and researching on how the exercise is instructed, and how it’s beneficial.”
- “Seek out training”
- “Space and type of chairs! Our Geri-Fit program is so popular that we’ve had to limit class size to 15, since our meeting room is not very big. We also have 10 older chairs that most everyone would rather use. We have brand new, very comfortable folding chairs that few of our participants prefer for the exercises.”
- “Equipment is one major thing. Sturdy chairs without arms are needed for Chair Yoga. We also purchased straps and blocks with a grant from Thrivent Financial. The Friends of the Library bought us tennis balls. Who will instruct the program and what is the target group for enrollees are also important questions to ask.”
- Feedback from librarians:
- “We purchased stretch exercise bands, and dumbbells from amazon. We asked for money from our Friends board which helped a lot! We used existing chairs and our a/v equipment for the videos and exercises.”
- “The only cost is when I bring in actual instructors. For the first instructor, I paid her a total of $280 for the 4 week program. The next instructor that’s coming in January will cost me $480 for the 4 week program. If I use the Geri-Fit DVDs, there is no cost associated with the program.”
- “I hosted a ChairOneFitness training at my library, which earned me a free registration and certification as a host site.”
- “Currently, we offer Tai Chi and yoga events as “one-time only.” I have established a list of community professionals who are willing to teach these classes periodically at the library at no charge. I try not to wear out my welcome, so it helps to have more than 1-2 community contacts. The Ageless Grace classes are taught by two certified educators who are library employees during their work time. Morning Body and Mind was weekly by library employees. Generally, the library does not pay someone to teach on a regular basis (there are a few exceptions within our system). Currently, working on a grant to provide funds for someone to teach for a specified time.”
- “Chair based yoga 45 min program can range from $50- $75 a class, but you can find yoga professionals to volunteers and yoga students who are looking for yoga volunteer hours.
- “Printing costs for handouts”
- “We purchase and provide the stretch bands, and we also have several sets of weights available for patrons to use while exercising. We used money from our programming budget to purchase these items.”
- “The Friends of the Library and Thrivent Financial helped fund equipment purchases, including tennis balls for foot massages.”
- Feedback from librarians
- “It is always important to check in with your patrons as they take part in the programming, so you can gauge their levels of interest.”
- “Instead of simply counting how many people attend each session, I like to look at how long people have been coming to the library for their exercise needs. I started the Geri-Fit program in January and about 70% of those participants are still with me a year later. I take into consideration what they want to do in terms of their fitness goals, then I do my best to make that happen. Now senior fitness is an integral part of my budget because I will happily spend money on fitness classes when I know my audience will come.”
- “Consider using it as an outreach and in-library program. You can talk about library programming when doing it as outreach, and you’re also making connections.”
- “The only formal assessment we’ve done has been the survey at the completion of the Geri-Fit study. Informally, our patrons love our Geri-Fit classes and keep coming twice a week. It has gotten so popular we had to add a second class two days a week and another class on Fridays.”
- Feedback from librarians
- “We used newsletters, the newspapers, etc. It worked out for us really well in the newspaper, especially with that audience.”
- “I always tell participants that they can go at their own pace, which seems to put everyone at ease. I think they assume it’s going to be really difficult since it’s exercise. Since my Geri-Fit program was so successful, I have had no issues with funding my other senior fitness classes.”
- “Definitely promote your class in the local newspaper because most of your target audience still reads the newspaper!”
- “Emphasize chair-based exercise programming isn’t just for older people. People who work in offices all day benefit from becoming more aware what exercises can be done in a chair.”
- “Chair base yoga, is still yoga but in a different form. you still get the same effect. Chair yoga helps those individuals who are not as mobile to experience stretches while setting in a chair. “
- “I find talking about our programs very simple: we explain our affiliations and then promote our services. The community loves it!
- “Age-friendly and accessible”
- “Our best message is word of mouth! Our Geri-Fitters enjoy the classes so much that they are constantly telling their friends, doctors, physical therapists, etc. about the program. If I am approached by any of the above for more information, Geri-Fit has excellent informational flyers and sample exercise sheets I can give out.”
- “Our instructor appeared on the local morning radio talk show and discussed the program with the hosts. We use social media extensively to promote it.”
Neese, A. W. (2018, September 3). Seniors learn to improve their balance, strength to prevent falls
. Retrieved September 3, 2018, from The Columbus Dispatch website.
September 05, E. P. | on, & 2018. (2018, September 5). Chair Yoga coming to Waterboro Public Library
. Retrieved September 6, 2018, from Journal Tribune website.
Pisano, M. (n.d.). “We recognized a need”: Yoga classes popular at Elmwood Park’s library
. Retrieved February 1, 2018, from Chicagotribune.com
Additional resources recommended by librarians
Buy bulk stretch bands online – here are the resources
one library uses – they cut them into three foot lengths for their programs
“Walmart and Target sell individual weights, so you can easily pick up a couple of extra sets of 1, 2, and 3 pound weights. We also asked patrons to donate any unused weights they had and we got a couple of sets that way.”
The following librarians have agreed to be expert resources for StoryWalk(R) programming. Reach out to them with additional questions!
Lisa Maiden – Adult Programming Coordinator at Daviess County Public Library in Owensboro, KY
Sandy Mayer, Librarian, Orange County Library System, Orlando, FL
Christy Dyson, Fulton County Libraries, Atlanta, GA
Karen Hiemstra, Marion Public Library, IN
Kayleigh Thomas, Gilford Public Library, NH
Kayleigh shared this advertisement used at her library with Let’s Move in Libraries
Are there additional resources you use at your library to support chair-based exercise programming? Let us know using this form and we’ll add them to this webpage.