TN YMCAs to part ways with senior health and fitness program, SilverSneakers

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — SilverSneakers announced Tuesday that the Tennessee YMCAs will no longer offer their program starting January 1, 2020.

The organization sent out the following statement about the decision.

SilverSneakers, the nation’s leading fitness program for older adults, announced today that the Tennessee State Alliance of YMCAs has decided to leave the SilverSneakers network and will no longer offer the program at its 44 locations across the state starting January 1, 2020.  SilverSneakers members can still participate in the program at no additional cost at one of more than 350 other participating fitness locations across the state.

SilverSneakers members can still participate in the program at no additional cost at one of more than 350 other participating fitness locations across the state.

Currently, 10,000 active SilverSneakers members use a Tennessee YMCA facility. Over half of the members live in rural areas. Starting in January 2020, the Ys will require these seniors to pay out-of-pocket for a YMCA membership if they want to continue to have access to Y facilities.

“Our first concern is for our members, and we are working hard to ensure their smooth transition to one of our many other participating locations where they can continue having access to their favorite SilverSneakers programming without paying any additional monthly fees,” said Steve Janicak, President, Healthcare Business Unit, Tivity Health. “We have strong partnerships with more than 1,500 other YMCA locations around the country, so we’re truly disappointed that the Tennessee Ys have decided to stop offering SilverSneakers.”

SilverSneakers is offered through leading Medicare Advantage plans and offers seniors regular exercise, including strength training, aerobics, and flexibility, as well as social opportunities.  More than 88% of SilverSneakers members surveyed said that the SilverSneakers program has improved their quality of life, 88% feel healthier overall and 94% say their health is good, very good or excellent.

As a community fitness program, SilverSneakers also promotes social opportunities to alleviate loneliness and social isolation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately one-third of people older than age 65 live alone, and 43 percent of seniors experience loneliness. The health risks of social isolation and loneliness are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day

Like a number of YMCAs across the nation, Tennessee’s YMCAs have been struggling to find ways to make the SilverSneakers®Fitness Program for seniors work with their individual membership pricing models. We have been negotiating for the past several months with the program’s for-profit provider, Franklin-based Tivity, for a more equitable reimbursement policy. While we had hoped we would be able to come to a satisfactory resolution, after Dec. 31, YMCAs in Tennessee will no longer participate in the SilverSneakers® program. While we’ve had a longstanding relationship with the program, what Tivity proposed in our negotiations is not sustainable for us as a non-profit organization. Seniors remain a vital part of our membership, and we are certainly not walking away from them. 

Tennessee Ys are committed to continuing to serve seniors in our community, and we intend to provide a variety of options to allow participants to continue to come to the Y once our agreement with SilverSneakers ends at the end of 2019.

In addition to providing access to fitness facilities and social connection, SilverSneakers also offers other great ways that members can engage with the SilverSneakers program:

  • SilverSneakers GO™, a mobile app that makes it easy for members to stay engaged online.  The app offers full workout programs, location and class finders, and helpful scheduling reminders, as well as downloadable walking programs and on-demand videos. The SilverSneakers GO app and content are free to SilverSneakers members.
  • The SilverSneakers Facebook community has nearly 775,000 followers who can access on-demand videos with various formats to support cardiovascular health, strength, endurance, flexibility, balance, and cognition. Facebook community membership and content are free to the community of users.

SilverSneakers will work directly with members who currently use a YMCA in Tennessee to help them find a new location near them. Members can go online at, or call SilverSneakers toll free at 888-338-0345.

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