Ila Swanson teaches as FitgGevity Fitness

Ila Swanson teaches a fitness class for seniors at FitGevity Fitness at 145 Regal St. Her company specializes in fitness programs for older people and those recovering from injury or surgery.

There is no shortage of gyms or workout programs in Billings.

But, if you’re a senior citizen, the fancy exercise machines and younger gym members may be intimidating.

Ila Swanson understands that. She’s been exercising for a long time, and she’s got a soft spot for seniors.

Swanson combines those passions in her business, FitGevity Fitness. The business offers fitness programs for seniors at 145 Regal St.

“Fitness has been a part of my life for several decades,” Swenson said. “It wasn’t until I began working with seniors that I realized how fulfilling my career could be. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

FitGevity may be reached at 698-8599. Here’s what else Swanson had to say about seniors and staying fit and healthy:

Nature of the business?

FitGevity Fitness specializes in fitness programming for older adults. All classes are multilevel and multi-equipment based. The members use the exercise tools that they feel comfortable to use. It’s a great environment for those who are fit, those who have never exercised before, and excellent for those who are post-surgical with knee or hip replacements. We offer the SilverSneakers Fitness programs and are proud to be a part of the Healthways network. Medicare-eligible members may qualify to receive their membership for free.

Why start this business?

I have a passion for working with older adults.

Where did startup funding come from?

My personal savings. I also had a group of wonderful generous seniors who desperately wanted a studio of their own. Their contributions are priceless.

How long have you been in business?

I have been in business for 2½ years.

Biggest challenges in running the business?

This age group can be limited as far as transportation is concerned. They cannot always ‘hitch’ a ride to attend the group fitness classes. The number-one issue that plagues older adults is depression. It is so exciting for them to be able to attend and be part of a social group.

What was done to overcome those challenges?

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We have a few senior volunteers who pick up the beautiful hearts that attend on a regular basis. If it weren’t for the volunteers, the success would not be what it is. I am fortunate to have such loyalty and kind-heartedness.

What is being done to expand the business?

We are on an advertising campaign in any way we can. We are still a small business with financial limitations, so this has not been easy. I have continued to educate myself and bring my credentials up to the highest standards in the industry. I hope to be able to make contact with physicians to offer our wonderful services to their patients.

Your best business decisions?

It was to specialize. There is such a tremendous need for wellness in this age group. The baby boomers are now entering retirement and the Medicare-eligible network. With that, many will be seeking fitness classes that are developed just for them.

Your worst business mistake?

I don’t look at failures as a mistake. I wish I would have specialized sooner, well before my Social Security years. It would have given me more time and energy to be involved in such a wonderful effort.

What advice do you have for someone running a business?

Branch out without fear and follow your dream. Never second guess yourself. Surround yourself with people who have the same passion as you do. Be loyal, expect loyalty. Most importantly, esteem your front line workers. They are the people who make or break your business.

Number of workers?

One support instructor, two volunteers.

What’s your five-year plan for the business?

I want to see the studio overflowing. I would love to employ several more instructors and allow them to experience the joy that I have had teaching this age group. I am also looking ahead to have an on site physical therapy association to partner with FitGevity Fitness.

A question you would ask other entrepreneurs?

I would ask about specific sources that would be available for a small business. I want to own a building and expand.

If you weren’t doing what you are now, what would be your dream job?

I have my dream job. I honestly can’t think of anything else I would rather do.

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