January 2022

Quality of Life for Seniors

Senior Celebrations Program @ UMC Offers Free Fitness Classes, Wellness Activities & Social Events

By Scott Kerbs

Like many other seniors across Southern Nevada, Monica Valerio joined UMC’s Senior Celebrations program to improve her overall level of fitness. After attending her first Senior Celebrations exercise class in 2020, at the Healthy Living Institute at UMC, the 66-year-old Las Vegas woman became an active member of the free wellness program, receiving expert-level guidance from UMC’s team of health care professionals.

Two years later, Valerio continues to attend a number of Senior Celebrations events, including the twice-weekly EnhanceFitness class, and the results speak for themselves.

“I’ve lost 25 pounds since joining Senior Celebrations,” Valerio says, explaining that UMC’s low-impact EnhanceFitness class has also significantly improved her mobility. “Prior to joining Senior Celebrations, I wasn’t exercising at all. I had no motivation to exercise.”

Many local seniors experience serious health issues as a result of inactivity and isolation, says Amy Runge, RN, who leads UMC’s Senior Celebrations program as the Clinical Manager of the Healthy Living Institute at UMC.

Recognizing the importance of providing local seniors with guidance and support on their journeys to better health and well-being, UMC introduced Senior Celebrations more than 20 years ago. Today, the program serves more than 2,000 members, providing community members 50 years old and up with access to a robust selection of evidence-based fitness classes, seminars, and activities. A majority of these events take place at the Healthy Living Institute at UMC, located on the hospital’s campus at 901 Rancho Lane.

“At UMC, we believe seniors should be respected and revered,” Runge says. “Our expertly trained team members take pride in developing resources tailored to meet the unique needs of seniors. We work together to promote their health and well-being in a safe, supportive environment.”

With no sign-up fees and no costs associated with participation, Senior Celebrations offers a wide range of exclusive benefits for local seniors, including complimentary access to health screenings, fitness classes, private lectures from industry-leading physicians, and social activities, in addition to many other key benefits. Senior Celebrations members may also have their Medicare Part A deductibles waived for inpatient services at UMC.

The program continues to grow and evolve to meet the unique needs of local seniors. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Senior Celebrations program has provided hundreds of local seniors with convenient access to COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots.

With support from Nevada’s most sophisticated hospital, Senior Celebrations serves as a valuable resource for community members. The program offers a unique concierge service for members, providing personalized support during any hospital stays at UMC. “If our members ever have a medical need, our entire team is at their disposal,” Runge says, explaining that her team often helps seniors connect with specialty physicians, community resources, and other important services.

“UMC is really good to the people they serve, especially seniors,” Valerio says, noting that she frequently attends free Senior Celebrations holiday events and movie nights organized by UMC at local theaters.

Senior Celebrations is a health education program, not an insurance plan. Any adult 50 or older can join the program for free, regardless of their insurance coverage. All members also have the option to receive UMC’s quarterly “Living” magazine, which provides information about upcoming events and resources for community members of all ages.

Like Valerio, many seniors benefit from UMC’s fitness classes. This includes the incredibly popular EnhanceFitness class, which helps seniors improve their balance and mobility. This group exercise class, which is taught across the nation, was designed to help seniors prevent potentially dangerous falls. In addition, Senior Celebrations also offers Stepping On, a more specialized, seven-week fall prevention course taught by a multidisciplinary team of UMC health care professionals. This course offers guidance on common home hazards, medication management, exercises, and mobility.

“Falls are a huge issue for seniors,” Runge says, explaining the program’s emphasis on fall prevention. “In addition to causing severe physical injuries, falls often lead to reduced confidence and long-term emotional trauma for seniors. In some cases, people who experience falls are afraid to participate in physical activities, leading to isolation and inactivity.”

Runge says she and her colleagues at UMC work closely alongside many Senior Celebrations members after they experience falls, helping them build their strength, balance, and confidence.

In addition to exercise classes and workshops, Senior Celebrations also provides unique social activities, including group painting classes, movie nights, and holiday gatherings.

“For many seniors, their social circle is much smaller because they are not going to work anymore,” Runge says. “In some cases, they don’t have much of a connection to the outside world, which can lead to depression and a variety of health issues. By participating in Senior Celebrations, community members have opportunities to interact and form lasting friendships with one another.”

Runge says UMC has taken significant steps to meet the needs of seniors throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to providing seniors with vaccinations, the Senior Celebrations program also introduced online classes to help members maintain their health and fitness. The program now offers both online and in-person classes, providing new levels of convenience for members.

“I’m absolutely thrilled that the classes are available online,” Valerio says, noting that she plans to take online classes whenever she cannot make it to the in-person EnhanceFitness class.

Valerio often attends the EnhanceFitness classes with her boyfriend, 81-year-old Mark Rosenfeld. They both find motivation in the detailed and enthusiastic teaching style of Erin Cheatwood, the UMC Community Relations Coordinator who leads the class.

“Erin is a terrific teacher,” Rosenfeld says.” She has a really great way of explaining all of the motions when you’re doing the exercises.”

Valerio says she and many other seniors have also taken advantage of opportunities to participate in other free courses provided at the Healthy Living Institute at UMC. She recently took UMC’s “Stop the Bleed” class, which provides in-depth training on how to stop life-threatening bleeding in the event of an emergency.

Looking toward the future, Runge says UMC’s Senior Celebrations program will continue to grow and provide new services for community members. With generous grant funding from the Roots & Wings Foundation, UMC’s Senior Celebrations program plans to focus heavily on mental health in 2022. This will include a large-scale community event in the spring to provide mental health education and support for seniors.

“Our entire team remains committed to empowering local seniors and helping them take ownership of their health,” Runge says.

Program Details

Senior Celebrations is a free health and wellness program developed for community members 50 and up. This UMC program offers a number of exclusive benefits, including:

  • ● ●Group fitness classes
  • ● Health screenings
  • ● Wellness lectures and seminars
  • ● Social gatherings and community events
  • ● Concierge health care navigation services
  • ● Access to UMC’s physician referral service
  • ● Medicare Part A deductible may be waived for inpatient care at UMC
  • ● Community resource referrals
  • ● Home delivery of UMC’s quarterly “Living” Magazine
  • ● Office services (copies and faxing)
  • ● Notary services
  • ● Café @ UMC discounts

Community members can sign up for Senior Celebrations by calling 702-383-SELF (7353). For more information and a list of upcoming classes, please visit

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