MN Medicare seniors call new Life Time gym time restrictions ‘despicable’
A new policy is set to go into effect at Life Time centers across the country in the new year, and it has a lot of people across the metro frustrated.
Come January 1st, members of the Chanhassen-based fitness chain who are also part of SilverSneakers, an insurance health program designed for adults 65 and older, will no longer be able to hit the gym any time they want. Instead, Life Time recently announced SilverSneakers members will be restricted to sweating it out between 9:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, with restricted weekend hours, too.
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS spoke with two longtime Life Time members who say they feel the new policy is age discrimination.
“When a club is open 18 hours a day, we can only enjoy it five and a half. We’re appalled at this,” Dan Dauffenbach said.
“I feel angry and betrayed. There should be no punishment for being over 65,” Diana Valentini said. “I do not see the times for any other age group being restricted.”
Working out is about more than just fitness for Dauffenbach and Valentini, who have each been members of the Life Time location in Savage, Minn. for nearly 20 years.
“Most of my really good, close friends that I’ve kept through my life I’ve met through the gym,” Valentini said.
Valentini’s close circle consists of about 18 fitness lovers who, along with daily chats at the gym, get together every Friday for happy hour. It’s a tradition that started about three years ago, Valentini says.
“We have a great time,” she smiled.
Both Valentini and Dauffenbach work out at Life Time between five and seven days every week at the same time each day. Dan walks through the doors at 6:15 a.m., Diana at 3:15 p.m. However, those decades-long routines will be brought to a halt soon with the new policy at Life Time.
“I feel we are being punished for being a little older,” Valentini said.
“When I go in at 6:15, it’s 40% full. So, it’s not like we’re taking away parking spaces or use of the machines,” Dauffenbach said.
A Life Time spokesperson tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that the changes come after negotiations with Medicare. The rate providers pay is ‘significantly discounted’ from a standard membership, Life Time says, and the restricted hours were ‘selected with the best interest of all members in mind.’
The alternative solution would be no contract renewal, meaning no access to Life Time, the spokesperson said.
“The money you receive from our insurance agencies is the same no matter what time of the day we choose to come to work out,” Valentini said.
More than 15,000 Minnesota seniors work out at Life Time as part of their Medicare coverage, and while the fitness chain says a majority of those members are understanding, many others are not.
“To Life Time management, like everyone else, I think the decision to limit senior hours is despicable,” Valentini read from a letter she sent to the gym’s headquarters a few weeks ago.
Several SilverSneaker members tell 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they’ve written letters just like Valentini’s in hopes of persuading those at the top to reconsider the new policy.
“No response. They’re just ignoring us. It’s like we’re not important to them,” Dauffenbach said.
Both Dauffenbach and Valentini say they haven’t decided what they’re going to do next. They say they haven’t considered switching gyms yet because they’re holding out hope for change before January.