Photo by Dan Brannan
Katie Richards stands inside the Wellness Center of Senior Services Plus.
ALTON – Thanks to her grandma, Senior Services Plus fitness director Katie Richards has an appreciation of senior citizens and their needs.
Richards’ affinity for the senior population has greatly paid off in her new position.
“Actually my grandma moved in with our family two years ago,” Richards said. “She is 88 years old and just seeing what she is capable of doing and what she needs helps me understand what I need to do here at Senior Services Plus.”
A key to being successful in her role is getting seniors to relate to her.
“Just being able to talk from the weather to personal life is important,” Richards said. “I get personal with each of them. Sometimes being 23 years old, fit and young can be intimidating for them. I have a lot of experience now working with the senior population.”
Richards grew up in Springfield, Ill., and attended Brigham Young University. She was a high school track and field and cross-country star. She was a state qualifier in track and field in the 100 and 200 meters and 4 by 100-meter relay team. Her best times were 12.4 in the 100 and 26.4 in the 200.
“Track honestly sparked the need for me to go into a field of fitness that I love,” she said. “I wanted to keep up that desire of running and working out every day and being healthy.”
The Senior Services Plus Wellness Center has qualified personal trainers and is even open to the younger population, working with those 16 years of age and helping them with physical therapy.
Richards has worked with a lot of clients with high blood pressure and even had some amputees come in and work on machines.
“A lot of people come in to lose weight, gain strength back or recover from a hip and knee replacement,” she said.
Richards graduated in April with a degree in exercise physiology. She said the Senior Services Plus’ Wellness Center is a place to get seniors out of their house and keep them social, but moving and active.
“This position has given me more than I would have imagined,” she said. “We are definitely trying to help people age successfully and have energy and strength in their golden years.”