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Greenville’s Jennifer Perras finalist for SilverSneakers National Senior Fitness Instructor Award

Aptitude. Community. Link.

These are some of the ideas at the heart of Greenville fitness instructor Jennifer Perras’ approach to leading the SilverSneakers Program to Salvation Army Kroc Community Center.

They are also part of the reasons given for her being named one of the top five finalists earlier this summer for the SilverSneakers Instructor of the Year award from thousands of nominees nationwide.

Perras took over the role of SilverSneakers instructor two years ago when a back injury sidelined the former instructor.

“From that first lesson, it was magical.” —Jennifer Perras

“From that first lesson, it was magical,” says Perras. “It felt like the perfect relationship for me from the start.”

SilverSneakers is the nation’s leading fitness program for seniors. Perras says she enjoys seeing new members move from uncertainty about their willingness to participate to excitement about new friendships and physical activity.

She adds that with ages ranging from 55 to 90, the people in her classes inspire her as much as she inspires them.

SilverSneakers is the nation’s largest senior fitness program, serving a group of approximately 18 million Medicare-eligible Americans.

“I love being with these people every day,” she says. “I like to see them accomplish something…I like to see people feel better about themselves.”

Since taking over as lead instructor, she has worked hard to not only tailor fitness classes to individual needs, but also to create a sense of community and connection. With the onset of COVID shutdowns, finding ways to maintain those connections was at the top of her head.

“I think it’s so important for everyone, but especially our people, to maintain a social connection.” — Jennifer Perras, SilverSneakers Fitness Instructor

She quickly followed the online sessions and worked through the technical issues and learning curves of adapting to a new way of interacting.

“Throughout COVID, we’ve really seen how important social connection is to the program,” Perras says.

Tivity Health President and CEO Richard Ashworth said Perras’s diligence in maintaining social connections was one of the reasons she was chosen as a finalist from thousands of instructors across the country. national. Tivity Health is the parent company of the SilverSneakers program.

“Not only has she kept hundreds of seniors active and healthy throughout the pandemic, but she has helped build connections and community during a time of great uncertainty and when so many people were struggling with the isolation and loneliness,” says Ashworth. “Her enthusiasm, positivity and kindness shine through in everything she does, making her a standout role model.”

SilverSneakers is one program among many at the Kroc Community Center designed to cater to all fitness levels

Perras says one of the things she strove for during her Facebook Live sessions was to develop ways to stimulate discussion and interactions between members. She did this through questions and surveys via the comments section and the comments proved the effectiveness of the efforts.

Reflecting on what it means to be a finalist for the Instructor of the Year award, she credits the people she works with as much or more than any effort on her part.

Jennifer Perras

“It’s teamwork,” she says. “We all made it happen.”

For more information on the SilverSneakers program, visit For more information on specific programs at the Kroc Community Center, visit

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