SilverSneakers Program – Eligibility and Offerings

Alex Enabnit
Licensed Insurance Agent and Medicare Expert Writer
July 17, 2020

What is SilverSneakers?

SilverSneakers is a popular fitness program that helps Medicare beneficiaries 65 and up to increase physical health, social wellbeing, and strong community bonds. It does this by providing group fitness classes for all abilities facilitated by trained instructors.

As a nationwide program, SilverSneakers is available at 17,000 gyms and fitness centers across the United States.1

SilverSneakers and COVID-19

With most gyms closing across the country from the COVID-19 pandemic, can you still use your SilverSneakers membership? As a matter of fact, you can.

If you're enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan that includes SilverSneakers, you can work out from home and keep your social distancing game strong with video workouts. SilverSneakers On-Demand offers classes and workout videos for people to exercise from the safety of their homes. If you have SilverSneakers, check it out!

What if I don't have SilverSneakers?

Even if you don't have a SilverSneakers membership, you can still get in on the fun. Right now, SilverSneakers is offering fitness classes for nonmembers and members alike through Facebook Live videos. You can tune in live or scroll down for previous SilverSneakers workout videos. So even if you're not eligible for SilverSneakers, you can work out like a member. Take a look on SilverSneaker's Facebook page.

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SilverSneakers eligibility

SilverSneakers is tailored for people 65 and up, but it doesn't keep out people out who are younger. No matter your age, If you're part of a participating Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plan, you might be eligible for SilverSneakers.

SilverSneakers eligibility is based on the following criteria:

  • You must be eligible for Medicare (by age or disability).
  • You must be enrolled in a Medicare Advantage or Medigap plan that includes the SilverSneakers program membership.

You can’t get a membership for the SilverSneakers Medicare program without being enrolled in a qualifying plan. To check your eligibility for the SilverSneakers program (and if your plan includes it), you can use the SilverSneakers instant eligibility check.

How does the SilverSneakers Medicare program work?

By partnering through national fitness centers, local gyms, healthcare providers, and community centers, the SilverSneakers program offers fitness classes for all activity levels at over 17,000 locations—nationwide. SilverSneakers provides a unique approach to help seniors stay active and connect with friends at the same time.

The SilverSneakers Medicare program is available only through select Medicare Advantage plans or a few Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans. Once you get on a qualifying Medicare Advantage or Medigap plan, you’ll sign up for the SilverSneakers program and receive a card with a 16-digit number. This number will give you immediate entry to all the classes and equipment the SilverSneakers Medicare program offers.

To see if your current Medicare Advantage or Medigap plan grants you SilverSneakers eligibility, you can use the instant SilverSneakers eligibility checker.

What does a SilverSneakers membership include?

A SilverSneakers membership comes with access to over 17,000 fitness locations nationwide—that’s right, with the SilverSneakers program, you can use gyms and all its included amenities in SilverSneakers’ huge, national network.

But SilverSneakers is probably even better known for its group exercise classes run by qualified instructors (such as SilverSneakers Classic) which includes equipment available to use in the classes. The SilverSneakers program also offers social events, a fitness app (SilverSneakers GO), online resources for home workouts, and more.

Additionally, SilverSneakers repeatedly states that it does not sell shoes—silver or otherwise—to anyone. It doesn't give you a free pair of shoes when you become a member either. So you'll need to BYOS (buy your own shoes) to bring to SilverSneakers classes.

Actual Sneakers Not Included

SilverSneakers locations

By partnering with SilverSneakers, many big-name gyms allow free access to beneficiaries with a SilverSneakers membership.

Here are a few of the gyms you might be able to attend with a SilverSneakers membership:

LA Fitness SilverSneakers

Beginning in 1984, LA Fitness has grown into a national chain of over 600 fitness centers known for their various amenities, quality fitness equipment, and a variety of classes.

If you attend an LA Fitness with your SilverSneakers membership, you might expect to find the following things at your facility:

  • Over 20 group fitness classes
  • Basketball courts
  • Racquetball courts
  • Heated pool
  • Hot tub
  • Sauna/steam room
  • Personal training

24 Hour Fitness SilverSneakers

Due to closures from the coronavirus pandemic, 24 Hour Fitness filed for bankruptcy in June of 2020. However, this fitness center remains a popular destination for people who want to work out at any hour of the day. You can find over 300 24 Hour Fitness clubs in 13 states

If you attend a 24 Hour Fitness with your SilverSneakers membership, you might expect to find the following things at your facility:

  • 24-hour club access
  • TRX suspension training
  • Cycle classes
  • Basketball courts
  • Lap pool/hot tub
  • Sauna/steam room
  • Personal training
  • Small group training

Planet Fitness SilverSneakers

Planet Fitness is one of the largest fitness center franchises in the United States. Much of Planet Fitness' popularity likely comes from low-cost memberships. Its reputation as a "judgment-free zone" likely helps too, appealing to gym-goers of all fitness levels. 

If you attend a Planet Fitness with your SilverSneakers membership, you might expect to find the following things at your facility:

  • 24-hour club access
  • Free fitness training
  • 30-minute circuit training
  • Free pizza once per month
  • Free bagel once per month

What kinds of fitness classes does SilverSneakers offer?

SilverSneakers has a lot of classes available for every physical activity level. Whether it’s a stability class to improve balance and prevent falls, a water exercise class for low-impact aerobic workouts, a yoga class to increase flexibility, or an athletic, upper-body conditioning class to build strength, SilverSneakers offers quite a few options.

If you’d rather work out from home, there are also SilverSneakers on-demand videos, and an app called SilverSneakers GO that includes exercise videos.

If you want the community and the classes but don’t care for the gym environment, the SilverSneakers program offers more than 70 kinds of classes through its FLEX network—in churches, community centers, or recreation centers.2 In addition to being outside a gym (or even outside a building!), FLEX classes are typically smaller than gym offerings, and the instructors’ personal contact info is available for students to call and ask questions—or just get to know them. You can see what FLEX classes are available in your area with their FLEX locator tool.

A sample of SilverSneakers fitness classes

The SilverSneakers Medicare program offers over 70 types of fitness classes for all fitness levels, and each one is taught by a certified instructor. You can choose a class to help you meet a specific fitness goal—from mobility to building muscle.

Here is a sample of what you might find:

SilverSneakers Classic

This is where it all started. With SilverSneakers Classic, the class adapts to your fitness level, using a chair for support if you need it and exercises can be modified to your ability as well. Overall, SilverSneakers Classic is a good way to help increase range of motion and muscle strength to make daily activities easier and improve overall well-being.

SilverSneakers Circuit

The SilverSneakers Circuit class is a choreographed routine set to music that incorporates movement with standing exercises that use rubber tubing and dumbbells. The class can be adapted to suit your fitness level, and chairs are available for support during the exercises.

SilverSneakers Cardiofit

A more rigorous workout than SilverSneakers Classic or Circuit, SilverSneakers Cardiofit is an aerobics-type class to build core strength, upper body strength, and cardio health. However, all of the exercises are low-impact.

SilverSneakers Yoga

Need better flexibility, balance, and range of motion? SilverSneakers Yoga may be your answer. A certified instructor helps guide the class through a set of yoga poses friendly to almost all fitness level. Apart from the physical benefits, SilverSneakers Yoga helps alleviate stress and increases relaxation.

SilverSneakers EnerChi

This new SilverSneakers class takes a page out of a very old book, borrowing from the ancient martial art of Tai Chi. Don't worry, no punches are thrown in this class. Instead, the instructor guides students through low-impact, slow, and deliberate movements to gain strength and balance. You may even walk out of the class feeling more mental clarity.

SilverSneakers Splash

A great, low-impact aerobic class, SilverSneakers Splash is taught in a shallow pool—shallow enough to stand in. The certified instructor walks (splashes?) the class through a series of movements that can be varied in intensity depending on fitness level.

SilverSneakers Stability

SilverSneakers Stability is organized specifically to impact daily life and make activities of daily living easier, hopefully preventing falls in the process. The class itself focuses on strengthening ankles, knees, and hips to help normal movement, and even has exercises to help improve reaction time. As with most classes in the SilverSneakers program, Stability can be modified to your fitness level.

Boom series

If you’re looking for more intensity out of your workouts in 30 minutes or less, SilverSneakers has a series of classes for you. In the Boom series, there is a Boom Move class which is an aerobic dance class to improve cardio health, Boom Muscle which strengthens the major muscle groups, and Boom Mind which blends Pilates and yoga to improve core strength.

Does Medicare cover SilverSneakers?

It can! Some Medicare Advantage (MA) or Medicare Supplement plans cover SilverSneakers.

Unfortunately, Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) does not offer or include SilverSneakers.

Additionally, you can’t buy a SilverSneakers membership outside of a health insurance plan from a private insurance company—you can only enroll through a qualifying MA or Medicare Supplement plan.

How to get a SilverSneakers membership

If you have Original Medicare and you’d like a SilverSneakers membership, you can see if there’s a Medicare Supplement plan available in your area that includes the program. Medicare Supplement (also known as Medigap) plans are supplemental health insurance plans that help cover costs like coinsurance, copays, or deductibles associated with your Medicare Coverage. Some plans even come with out-of-pocket limits, which Original Medicare doesn’t offer.

You can learn more about Medicare Supplement plans, or, if you’d like to see if there’s a plan with SilverSneakers available in your area, call the number below.

You can also get SilverSneakers through a Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare Advantage is another way to receive Medicare benefits by bundling everything Part A and Part B offers, and often gaining access to extra benefits such as vision, dental, hearing, or even SilverSneakers. Keep in mind, however, that you can only switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage if you have an enrollment period (like the Annual Election Period every October 15 through December 7).

You can learn more about Medicare Advantage, or, if you’d like to switch to a Medicare Advantage plan that includes SilverSneakers, call a qualified agent with the number below.

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What do I do if my plan drops SilverSneakers?

There seems to have been a recent trend of companies dropping coverage for SilverSneakers. Recently, several YMCAs across the country have discontinued their partnership with SilverSneakers, no longer allowing people with a SilverSneakers membership into the popular recreation center. Just last fall, Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) of Tennessee dropped its contract with SilverSneakers entirely according to a story from the Nashville Post.

Luckily, Medicare beneficiaries aren't necessarily out of luck. If your plan drops SilverSneakers, your plan may replace it with a similar program such as Silver&Fit—which was the case for BCBS of Tennessee. Or, if you want only SilverSneakers, you may be able to switch to a plan that offers it. If you need help, consider speaking to a licensed agent.


Sources:

1. SilverSneakers, “17,000+ Locations

2. SilverSneakers, “11 Burning Questions About SilverSneakers—Answered!

Content on this site has not been reviewed or endorsed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the United States Government, any state Medicare agency, or any private insurance agency (collectively "Medicare System Providers"). Eligibility.com is a DBA of Clear Link Technologies, LLC and is not affiliated with any Medicare System Providers.

Alex Enabnit
Written by
Alex Enabnit
Medicare and geriatric care expert, Alex has one motivation behind every word he writes, and that’s finding you the best medical coverage for your situation. Alex has been featured on Bloomer Boomer, Best Company, HealthPopuli.com, the Daily Ledger on the One America News Network, WBAP News radio, and more. Outside of work, you can find him hiking with his wife and pup or (occasionally) going to the gym.
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