Many seniors who have difficulty moving know they should exercise to limber up and get their heart rate going.
But a gym is out of the question. Even driving to such a destination may be impossible.
Enter Shape Up 4 Seniors, a one-on-one program that makes house calls.
"It's a new concept in nonmedical home care and health education for seniors and a social way to get aid for their quality of life," says founder Natalie Betancourt.
"It's like having an activity director on wheels."
Betancourt, 56, has kept active while having fun her whole life. She's a dancer and former instructor of rigorous dances such as the tango, mambo and salsa. These styles of dance demand flexibility, stamina and mental concentration and build these qualities in their performers. Dancing is one of the tools in Shape Up's toolbox.
For the less hardy, Betancourt teaches a stretch and coordination exercise regimen accomplished while seated. For that, she holds a Zumba gold license for seniors. She also is licensed as a senior fitness instructor by the Agency for Health Care Administration and the American Sports & Fitness Association.
For seniors seeking companionship, Betancourt offers a visiting caregiver who brings games of bingo and playing cards. And to care for clients' self esteem, Shape Up's on-call staff also includes licensed hair stylists and manicurists.
Also available: a home chef, errand service, a personal shopper and a notary.
Betancourt, who currently runs her business out of her home in Brookridge, has two strategies to build her client base.
First, she is teaming up with AARP chapters in Hernando and Pasco counties through the organization's Life ReImagined program. Jeff Livingston, the chapters' president, said the efforts coalesce as a "life coaching sort of effort."
The second part of Betancourt's growth plan is to hold a kickoff for her business at the Seniors Health Expo at 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Towne Square Mall, 3021 Commercial Way. The roughly 45 vendors at the expo will include representatives from a pharmacy, an urgent care facility, an assisted living facility, a financial advisor and a funeral home.
Area restaurants will offer free samples from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. A fashion show by a local boutique is set for 1 p.m., and a senior queen will be crowned at 2:30 p.m.
Admission is by donation of a nonperishable food item to a Pasco County food pantry. Attendees will receive goody bags of coupons.
Beth Gray can be contacted at [email protected]