AAPicture3Following the expansion plan of the 1980s, Plymouth Harbor continued to make updates throughout the campus in the years to come.

Beginning with the installation of solar heating for the outdoor pool in 1992, updates to existing amenities and technology became a main focus. In 1993, Pilgrim Hall received a home theater system and an updated PA system. In 1994, the Plymouth Harbor Dining Room was completely redone with a $1.2 million renovation. Additionally, Channel 58 (now known to residents as Channel 195) was installed as an in-house TV station to keep residents updated on events and activities occurring at Plymouth Harbor.




As you may have already noticed, there is a new addition to Plymouth Harbor. On Friday, November 20, we installed our new “Wellness at Plymouth Harbor” Display Wall — located on the ground floor, near the Wellness Center between the two stairwell doors.

The wall (pictured right) depicts both resident and employee wellness at Plymouth Harbor, along with the seven dimensions of wellness: physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, professional/ vocational, social, and environmental/community. The left side of the wall includes photographs of activities and programs from the OnBoard Employee Wellness Program, while the right side shows resident wellness activities through VoyAges. The center then depicts the overlap of these two wellness programs. Please note that these photos will also be swapped out periodically throughout the year.

We hope you will enjoy this new addition, and if you haven’t already, go down and check it out for yourself!



Picture1 (3)Marty (Martha) Buenneke moved into Plymouth Harbor 11 years ago, in October 2004. Prior to her move here, she always considered herself an active person. Not only was she an active member of the Des Moines, Iowa, community as a volunteer, she served as President of United Way and was a member of a number of other not-for-profit boards. Marty also stayed active by reading, writing, gardening, and exercising.

“I always had to be doing something,” she says of herself. So naturally, when the Wellness Center opened in September 2014, Marty became one of the “regulars.” And even though she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease some 22 years ago, Marty hasn’t let it hold her back. “I believe that you have to keep moving,” she says. “Exercise is one of the most important things anyone can do.”

When Marty first moved into Plymouth Harbor, she didn’t know a soul. She’s made countless friends since then, but she says the Wellness Center has provided a great way for her to meet new people. “I’m not shy, as you can tell,” she laughs. “It’s nice to see different people down there.”

You can find her in the Wellness Center almost every day, whether she’s doing her daily 45 minutes on the NuStep or attending the Body Moves fitness class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On top of that, Marty also works with a personal trainer each week to improve her swimming.

In addition to the physical aspect of wellness, Marty also embraces her artistic side, with her own station in the Art Studio. While she’s not always in the studio, she stresses the importance of staying active in many different ways. Marty is truly is an inspiration for overall wellness, and encourages others to keep wellness top of mind.

“The Wellness Center is heavily used by a lot of people, but I wish there were more,” she says. “We’re lucky to have it.”


11220073_10203851021984159_73092776949619558_nIn October, we shared that OnBoard, Plymouth Harbor’s new employee wellness program, received LeadingAge Florida’s Best Practice Award. This month, we’d like to provide a closer look into OnBoard and why it was formed.

OnBoard incorporates comprehensive wellness programs within each of the seven dimensions of wellness — Environmental/Community, Emotional, Intellectual, Physical, Professional/Vocational, Social, and Spiritual. Our inspiration for building this program came not only from our employees, but also from our residents. Building a strong sense of community and creating an outstanding living environment depends, in no small part, upon our success in recruiting, hiring, retaining, and developing the highest quality workforce. It is the combination of residents, employees, and services that makes Plymouth Harbor one of the nation’s top Continuing Care Retirement Communities.

OnBoard was implemented as a formal program in September 2014. Throughout the planning process, it was evident that many current benefits (like scholarships, complimentary flu vaccinations, volunteer programs, etc.) fell within the framework of a defined employee wellness program. But we also recognized a great opportunity for growth. Therefore, we formed a small planning group and set to work developing a program that would build asdfhkajsDF KAsdfstronger, healthier employees; encourage mentoring relationships with residents and employees; and contribute to overall employee happiness.

To do this, OnBoard focuses on achieving whole-person wellness, rather than on one specific area, such as fitness or exercise. For that reason, we offer numerous programs within each wellness dimension. Pictured right are just a few of the many programs and events that OnBoard is responsible for. We’re excited to offer this program to our employees and will strive to improve it with each passing year.


Picture3354Plymouth Harbor embarked on an ambitious expansion plan in the mid-1980s, prompted by the financial necessity of adding more apartments to ensure our financial viability. The North Garden complex, designed by architect Stuart Barger, was built to complement the Tower with its open-air atrium. When it opened in 1988, a big selling point was the long waiting list for Tower apartments—which the North Garden did not have.

“I didn’t have any sales tools! What I did have was a long waiting list for Tower units. I used that to talk to people about the North Garden,” says Margaret Wierts-Parrinello, a staff member at the time. The Board wanted the new apartments filled as soon as possible so that the future residents could pick their paint colors, carpeting, tiling, etc., and help the architect complete the building.





The year 1983 marked the beginning of many renovations for Plymouth Harbor. It began with Pilgrim Hall, which underwent minor renovations for a period of about six weeks. The project was made possible through generous gifts of the residents and included a new stage, carpet, chairs, and a new cooling and heating system.

In the year 1984, the Residents Long-Range Planning Committee was established. That same year, as an important part of corporate due diligence, the committee and the Board of Trustees began working on a longer-term plan for Plymouth Harbor. Out of these meetings arose an ambitious expansion and improvement program that Plymouth Harbor would complete in the coming years. Soon after Plymouth Harbor celebrated paying off the $4 million mortgage it took out in 1965, the building projects — both large and small — began.





Homer B. Myers was a local Sarasota banker and a member of the First Congregational Church of Sarasota. In 1963, Homer loaned the Reverend Dr. MacNeil the funds needed to purchase Coon Key for $300,000. Prior to that, Dr. MacNeil and his small group of visionaries had only the $50 that each of them had contributed as a starter fund. “He loaned us money as if we had money,” recalled Dr. George Baughman, an early Plymouth Harbor trustee and also a member of the local church.

Homer was a large supporter of Plymouth Harbor. In addition to loaning the group funds, Homer used his ties to members of the community to help the organization succeed. Following the purchase of the land, Homer helped ensure necessary zoning changes were made through a personal connection with Sarasota City Manager, Ken Thompson — an old college friend of Homer’s. Past that, Homer went on to serve as Chairman of the Plymouth Harbor Board of Trustees, first in 1968-1969, and again from 1977 until 1986. Eventually, Homer himself became a resident of Plymouth Harbor.




By Chris Valuck

One of the first questions I’m asked when a person finds out I’m a personal trainer is: “Why do I need a personal trainer, if I’m not ‘training’ for anything?” That’s a logical question, but it may help to know that trainers work with many different populations, from post-rehab to professional athletes and everything in between. However, not all trainers are created equal. Below are some questions that you may consider asking a trainer to help evaluate whether or not  that particular trainer is qualified to work with you based on your needs.

Before You Call a Personal Trainer.

Think about the following questions before you call a trainer:  What are your goals? What are your expectations of a personal trainer? How frequently would you like to work with a trainer, and what is your budget?

Interviewing The Trainer.

A thorough evaluation of a trainer’s credentials is critical to determine if their skills and abilities are appropriate for your needs.

Unfortunately, the fitness industry (i.e. personal trainers, group fitness instructors, etc.) is not a licensed field, nor is a trainer required to have a degree — or even a certification.  However, a trainer qualified to work with a special population, such as seniors,  should have all, or a combination, of the following: years of experience in the fitness industry working with a senior population, academic achievement in a health-related field (exercise science), and a nationally-respected certification.


There are over 300 fitness certifications, but only three to four that are respected in the industry (ACSM and NSCA being the gold standard). Be sure to ask about certification and ask to see their card. If they worked hard for it, they’ll be proud to show you.

Academic Achievement.

Ideally, look for a trainer with a degree in Exercise Science.  A degree shows commitment to the field, and a trainer with a degree is likely to have a more solid understanding of not only anatomy and physiology, but chronic diseases and disabilities.

Years of Experience in the Industry.

Years of experience is a plus, but sadly, not a guarantee that the trainer is qualified to work any special needs that you may have. So, be specific when you question them about their experience working with a senior population and discuss your specific conditions.

Ask to see it!

A professional trainer should be able to provide proof of a current fitness certification, liability insurance, and CPR certification. Also ask for a copy of their session rate, billing procedure, cancellation policy, and hours of availability.  Lastly, ask for client references (and then actually call them).  Calling a reference will help to determine whether the trainer has the experience you require for your special needs. If they can’t produce these documents or provide references, walk away. It’s a red flag.


So, you’ve interviewed them and they seem qualified, but now ask yourself: do you like them? Can you see yourself working closely with them? What is their communication style? If the trainer is super-high energy and you want someone who is low key and clam, move on, because you won’t be compatible.

The First Session.

Before your first session, your trainer should request your permission to send a medical clearance to your doctor(s). Once they have this, it’s their turn to interview and evaluate you! You should expect that your trainer will request that you first sign a consent/waiver prior to the evaluation, and that you complete a thorough medical and exercise history.  At a minimum, your evaluation will consist of a strength, flexibility, and balance assessment. The results of these tests will help the trainer develop an appropriate program for you.

The Bottom Line.

Whether you hire a trainer to improve balance, muscular strength, or cardiovascular endurance, your trainer should provide ongoing motivation, education, and regular

re-evaluations to assess progress and monitor health conditions. In turn, you will be asked for compliance, and to provide regular feedback to help your trainer tailor each session to your needs. Whether you work with a trainer short or long-term , another considerable benefit is the improved self-efficacy that results in working with a trainer to enhance your well-being.


By Chris Valuck

We have yet to meet a resident that doesn’t enjoy using the Nu-Step located in the Wellness Center. In fact, they’re so popular that we had to acquire another to keep up with demand.

A Nu-Step is a recumbent cross trainer, which is sometimes referred to as a recumbent stepper because the user “steps” back and forth (from a seated position) rather than moving their legs in a circular motion like a bicycle does. It is a piece of exercise equipment that has historically been seen in a rehab setting and is intended for cardiopulmonary conditioning. However, in recent years, it has become increasingly popular in health and fitness settings for general conditioning.

The Nu-Step has gained popularity in part due to the fact that it is safe, easy to use, and comfortable, while still offering effective muscular and cardiovascular endurance. The Nu-Step provides an option to exercise only the legs or to add upper body exercises as well. The seat and arm levers can be easily adjusted for a custom fit. The convenient low entry onto the machine makes it easy to get on and off, without having to climb over any part of the equipment. If need be, the seat also swivels for easy transfer from a walker or wheelchair to the seat.

Many residents also enjoy the easy-to-use console, with it’s ability to monitor heart rate, SPM (steps per minute), time, distance, and 15 different levels of resistance. Each Nu-Step is equipped with adaptive equipment such as a chest belt, lap belt, foot supports, and even arm rests to assist users that may need this additional support (i.e. Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s Disease).

Considering the Nu-Step’s wide variety of custom adjustments, and the fact that it is an excellent form of low-impact exercise (therefore more gentle on the muscles and joints as opposed to a treadmill), it’s no surprise that users claim to have a more enjoyable exercise experience when using it.

If you would like to experience the Nu-Step, stop by the Wellness Center and let us show you this great piece of equipment.

The years of 1972—1976 were notable because it was around this time that the Plymouth Harbor Board of Trustees and the administration began to realize financial difficulty ahead. Existing resident contracts had clauses restricting increases in maintenance fees, which made it difficult to keep pace with rising costs. Jack Smith, the administrator at the time, sought advice from business people on the Board and from a group of residents. In turn, those residents enlisted others to organize a campaign to voluntarily increase their monthly fees. A surprising number of residents did so, and by the mid-1980s, Plymouth Harbor was back in solid financial shape.

According to Jack Smith, “The cooperation was amazing. When we were in financial difficulty, in addition to raising their own monthly payments, residents did everything from paying for carpeting in the public areas, to buying vehicles, to purchasing silverware. The residents saw that the need was there, and they responded to the need to save Plymouth Harbor.” In the years to follow, the Board of Trustees and the Residents’ Long-Range Planning Committee saw an opportunity to begin working on a master plan for Plymouth Harbor—one that would include an ambitious design for an expansion and improvement program.