The last Boomer Health column that I wrote from my cubicle within the Palm Beach Post building — back in March — was a piece previewing a unique upcoming fitness event for residents of local senior communities: the Wisdom Warrior Challenge track meet.
Alas, the meet — originally scheduled for March 14 at the Watson B. Duncan Middle School track and featuring seven events (100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, 400-meter dash, 800-meter dash, 1,600-meter dash, 4×100-meter relay race, shot put) — was postponed as the world went into COVID-19 lockdown (and I, like almost all my coworkers, have been working remotely ever since).
But now, some eight months later, the brainchild of La Posada Director of Rehabilitation Linda Borgmeyer is back on — and reconstituted so as to be coronavirus-safe for all participants.
“The events will be set up to promote health, happiness, and hope all while following social distancing and safety rules,” said Borgmeyer.
Rather than have the participating communities meet at a single site, the participants will have their track meets on their own home campuses and then the race times will be compiled and compared.
Even though there won’t be any outside spectators on-site, Borgmeyer is determined to make the atmosphere as festive as possible at all the communities.
“There will be music and dancing between events so the whole community can celebrate life,” she explained. “I plan to run a Facebook live feed so that the families and friends can see their loved ones crossing the finish line or standing on the podium with their medals.”
Borgmeyer, who creates custom-tailored fitness programs for every La Posada resident who wants one, originally conceived the Wisdom Warrior Challenge as a way to give folks “a unique fitness event that would let local seniors do all sorts of different track events — instead of just the typical 5K.”
La Posada residents like Ann Mayberry and Steve Dukkony have been itching to put their months-long preparation to the test. Both say that training with their fellow residents — and teammates — has built comradery and been a great way to keep busy during the community’s COVID-19 quarantine.
“Having the organized event motivated me to train every day,” said the 89-year-old Dukkony. “I have always been active but knowing the event was eventually going to happen kept me on track.”
At 85, Mayberry said that before Borgmeyer created the Wisdom Warrior Challenge “I had never really exercised in my life. But I have been training since February for the March event that got postponed. In March, I was going to do the walking events — but now I am actually running. I guess it’s true what Linda always says: ‘It’s never too late to start.’”
Another benefit of the postponement is that it has enabled Borgmeyer to expand the event.
The original competition had just three participating communities — but now four are fielding teams.
“The participating residents on The Fountains of Melbourne team have been practicing twice a week and attending fitness classes daily,” said Paula McKee, the community’s wellness associate. “I have been working closely with our Wisdom Warriors and we really do have a great team. They are all excited and ready to go. They are very competitive and looking forward to it.”
On Nov. 10, La Posada will kick off the festivities with the initial meet in Palm Beach Gardens.
They’ll be followed by Allegro of Parkland on Nov. 13, The Fountains of Melbourne on Nov. 19 and YourLife of Palm Beach Gardens on Dec. 5.
During the on-site competitions, the communities will provide music, entertainment, giveaways and have senior-centric health and lifestyle vendors showing off their wares while following all Covid safety protocols.
Another fun component that Borgmeyer created is the Wisdom Warrior Challenge “traveling trophy,” which, she explained, would reside at the winning community “in a place of honor” for a full year until the 2021 competition.
“After everyone has held their on-site meets, the final event of the Wisdom Warrior Challenge will be virtual, with all the communities on a Zoom-like call, so the overall winners for every event can be announced and awarded their medals. And, of course, the traveling trophy will also be awarded to the community with the most points.”
McKee noted that when it comes to the team challenge, her “pumped up” charges are “in it to win it.”
That said, what Borgmeyer and McKee stressed above all is that everyone at all four communities is encouraged to participate — no matter their level of fitness.
“No resident is left behind,” she Borgmeyer. “We’ve included untimed community walks of 400 or 800 meters that also garner points for the community’s team. Participants can use an assistance device to walk or be pushed in a wheelchair — just so long as they cross the finish line. We want this to be the most inclusive senior event possible.”