Renew Active vs Silver Sneakers

Does it sometimes seem like Medicare and Insurance companies are trying to make things as complicated as they possibly can? Just when you think you have Medicare Advantage down, something else comes up! For example: Renew Active vs Silver Sneakers.

Not so very long ago, there was one main senior fitness program when you joined a Medicare Advantage Plan: SilverSneakers®. Then, in January 2019, one carrier dropped SilverSneakers and replaced it with Renew Active™. Many people were concerned when this first happened. However, it now seems like Renew Active is a reasonable replacement.

Who is Affected?

The people affected by the change to Renew Active are those that are a part of a Medicare Advantage Plan that has the program as a benefit. (In addition to those people considering whether or not to join their plan.) The majority of the other Medicare Advantage plans still use Silver Sneakers as their main plan.

How to Make a Decision?

If you are trying to decide on a Medicare Advantage Plan in your area, Renew Active vs Silver Sneakers may play a part in your decision. Exercise is very important for staying healthy and reliving stress during your Medicare years.

Let’s take a quick look at the two programs, how they are similar or different, and whether or not there are advantages to either one.

What is Silver Sneakers?

what is Silver Sneakers Senior Fitness

SilverSneakers® is a fitness and wellness program for seniors age 65 and up. It includes free gym memberships across the country, and it is included with many Medicare Advantage Plans.

Click here to read our article: What is Silver Sneakers?

What does a SilverSneakers Membership Include?

  • LOCAL GYM MEMBERSHIPS: Silver Sneakers has an extensive list of gyms that participate in their program that offers free gym memberships to seniors. Their website boasts having more gym facilities than there are Starbucks locations in the U.S. (at over 16,000).
    • If you are a part of a Medicare Advantage (MA) program that uses Silver Sneakers, then you can access the gyms in their network at no cost. You can use as many of these facilities as you like while you are a part of your MA plan.
  • ONLINE FITNESS CLASSES: If you prefer to workout at home, or do not have a physical location close to you, SilverSneakers offers online fitness classes.
  • APP: They also have an app to help you track your fitness goals and schedule your fitness plans. The app can also help you locate participating locations.

What is Renew Active?

Renew Active™ is another program offered by a carrier with select Medicare Advantage plans. It also offers access to gyms and fitness places across the country.

What does a Renew Active Membership Include?

  • GYM ACCESS: When we looked into all the benefits offered by Renew Active, we found the standard access to local gyms.
  • BRAIN TRAINING: Interestingly, they also offered a unique feature of online brain training. The company partnered with BrainHQ to offer an app to keep your brain sharp with games and tools available on a PC or mobile device.
    • The BrainHQ service is available for purchase from $8-$14 a month, so getting this included with your Renew membership does seem like a good deal.

Renew Active vs Silver Sneakers: How are they Similar?

renew active vs silver sneakers pin

When comparing Renew Active vs Silver Sneakers, you will find they are very similar in their main functions.

  • To start, both programs offer free gym memberships at local fitness facilities.
  • In addition, you can sign-up for multiple fitness locations with both memberships.
  • Both plans offer at-home options for people that are too far away from any participating facilities.
    • For at home options with Renew Active you must call their customer service phone number. Apparently, you can find this on the back of your health plan member ID.
    • You can find SiliverSneakers at home programming information online here.
  • Finally, Medicare Advantage Plans include one of these programs at no additional cost to plan members.
    • (Some Medigap plans in certain states may have access to some sort of fitness benefit, but that is all dependent on the insurance company and the service area. This is not near as common. Mostly fitness plans are an extra benefit of Medicare Advantage plans.)

How They are Different: Renew Active vs Silver Sneakers

renew active vs silver sneakers comparison chart or checklist from
  • The first difference we see at this time is Silver Sneakers seems to be in more facilities.
    • SilverSneakers boasts over 16,000 locations.
    • At the start of 2019, Renew Active mentioned over 7,000. However, it seems like their program has grown since that mention.
    • Check the location searches for both programs to make sure your gym preference is covered.
  • The second difference is that Renew Active has an online brain training application included, and Silver Sneakers does not (at the time I am writing this article).
    • The BrainHQ app seems to retail at $8-$14 a month if you wanted to buy it separately, so that does suggest added value.
    • We have not tried this app, and could not find a lot of research or reviews on the platform at the moment. Please leave a comment if you find something useful!
  • In our Renew Active vs Silver Sneakers comparison, the third difference we see is that Silver Sneakers has an good list of online classes.

What’s Better About Silver Sneakers?

To start, if you are someone who likes to do workouts at home, and likes to stream different workouts online, Silver Sneakers has more to offer you in this area. Their online “on-demand” workout section boasts hundreds of online workouts available.

Also, Silver Sneakers seems to have the larger network of physical fitness facilities at this time.

Finally, multiple Medicare insurance company plans use SilverSneakers. This means your coverage might not change if you change Medicare plans.

What’s Better About Renew Active?

Renew Active is only associated with one carrier’s Medicare Advantage Plans. It’s major advantage over SilverSneakers seems to be the access to BrainHQ training games. It’s network might be a bit smaller than SilverSneakers, but it is still impressive and very useful.

Should Renew Active vs Silver Sneakers be a Deciding Factor on Your MA Plan?

In my opinion, there are much more important factors to consider when choosing a Medicare Advantage Plan than Renew Active vs Silver Sneakers. Your network access to doctors and medical providers should be your first consideration. Your drug plan and hospital facilities and costs should also be more important.

However, if all your plans seem comparable, your decision might include the convenience of using a local wellness facility, streaming exercises at home, or participating in brain health activities.

In this case, it is a great idea to hop onto the facility location tools and online resources for both Renew Active and Silver Sneakers. You can then make sure the program you choose covers your gym or desired services.

Further Reading:

33 thoughts on “Renew Active vs Silver Sneakers”

  1. we were members at our local coosa valley fitness and wellness with silver sneakers, and
    now united healthcare has changed to renew active and this has not been set up with our
    gym, so we have no were to go at this time, please get with so
    that we can continue our exercise at this gym. thank you

    • I love Renew Active. It should be available at high quality exercise programs near you such as Orange Theory Fitness and Club Pilates. If these studios are not near you, call the call the exercise studios that are nearby to see if you have coverage.
      I have have never felt better. My back no longer bothers me and my doctor has been very impressed with the improvement in my blood pressure and oxygen intake. Good luck!!!
      Hope you find Renew Active to be a tremendous improvement over silver sneakers!

  2. Renew Active is owned and only offered by United Health Care. Another competing plan is Silver & Fit which in my area is offered by our BCBS affiliate. One other change that is occurring is gyms are beginning to narrow what is covered with Silver Sneakers ( eg. limited access to specific classes) and adding cost for full access to all classes & services. Gyms commonly complain that they lose money on Silver Sneaker members and in response, some have developed a special monthly fee (eg.$40-$50) for seniors who frequently visit and use their services.

  3. Thinking about switching plans and UH has the Renew one. Most of my gyms were on it except one premium one. I checked on my own and starting jan 1 there are more Premium gyms in my area that are even better plus YMCA which in va they didnt have silver sneakers . I like to go to multiple gyms and it says both plans let you do that. I also go to florida and can join silver sneakers locations there . Unfortunately there isnt a phone for renew directly you have to go through the sales team which really doesnt know about the renew plans detais. Is there a direct phone for them like in silver sneakers?

  4. I will probably change health insurance to to RENEW option for gyms. Renew does not provide classes and since I am a fitness instructor for Silver Sneakers it just doesn’t work. Renew get it together and start classes for seniors especially Zoom classes with the COVID situation. Bring your head up to date and evaluate how you can help the older people instead of restrict them as you have done. Bye Bye United Health care

    • My Silver Sneakers classes were my lifeline before the pandemic. The classes were specialized for the needs of seniors but allowed progress in cardio and strength training. I started in 2014 and made friends along the way. The instructors were great. I was making strides in managing my osteoporosis and arthritis, as well as the stress of being the primary caregiver for a family member with dementia. Then my local YMCA dropped Silver Sneakers for Renew Active. The classes are just the regular gym classes and the instructors do not receive specialized training like the Silver Sneakers instructors. The individual support and encouragement is gone. The YMCA said they were losing money on Silver Sneakers. The Y is supposed to be non-profit, so how is this an issue?

    • I am devastated at the loss of Silver Sneakers in my UHC Medicare Advantage Plan!!! What are they thinking? I would happily pay for a subscription to Silver Sneakers Zoom classes which have been sooooo important during covid lockdowns. And, no one can top Silver Sneakers trainers.

    • absolutely true I live in Maine and have lung issues that make it difficult to go to a crowded gym. Silver Sneakers offered both on line classes and on demand. I was doing Zumba classes and circuit classes almost every day This is a difficult loss for me and my health Renew’s offerings are limited
      I thought Medicare cared about seniors Most of Renews classes are geared to younger people And they offer Brain games That will help in staying fit physically, NOT Very disappointed

  5. I’m a new member of United Health Care and WAS happy with it, but will be changing providers. I’ve been a member of SS for years and have many friends. there

  6. I have attempted several times on phone to have renew active help with my Orange Theory membership which is under renew active. It is the gym mentioned and one I go to. They seem to be refusing to help me. Have been at this gym for 2 years.. made several calls to renew active.. have given gym my code.. etc. Where else can i go to get help? Is renew active for real or what?

  7. My wife does not go out because of rampant Covid and having asthma. She has taken a Silver Sneakers Zumba class online for the last two years and not it is no more with our United Health Care plan. The new UHCRenewActive does not include streaming. This is the 21st century. Where do you all live? If I could, I would switch and I will tell everyone in my senior circle that if they can, they need to switch health plans. You all should be ashamed for blocking so many shut in seniors from live classes that they have enjoyed for years.

  8. Silver Sneakers has the best online Zoom training classes. Much better for me than at my gym. SS trainers are amazing!! It appears that Renew Fitness has no such online classes. I have been looking at switching to another plan just because of this.

  9. I am so sad to see my healthcare provider intends to switch from Silver Sneakers to Active Renew which does not provide on line live classes. I am looking into changing health plans. On line classes with Silver Sneakers keeps me active and healthy. I feel like the rug has been pulled out from under my feet! So sad.

  10. Silver Sneakers is the only program I have used for years at my local gym where I go 5-6 times a week. This gym is only 5 min from my house and provides excercise classes. aerobics and chair. This gym is my life line.I am 84 years old.This gym and other gyms in my neighborhood do not provide “renew active” and I cannot afford to pay the regular fee at the gym. I would have to go to a diiferent healthcare service. This is very very upsetting to me. karin.

  11. United Healthcare switched my parents (in their 80’s) to Renew Active. They do not want to go to a gym because of Covid and for the last year and a half they have been doing Live Classes on Silver Sneakers. They loved the live classes. They got to know the instructors and took 2 classes a day. It really gave them something to do in the winter months as it is cold where they live. Now, I just set them up with Renew Active is not comparable AT ALL to Silver Sneakers. Renew Active does offer online fitness classes from various providers like Lifetime Fitness. However, unlike Silver Sneakers, there is only one provider that offers classes for their age bracket. I guess there are a lot of active and athletic seniors which is great, but I feel a Medicare program should offer more classes for seniors who want to stay fit and can’t lay down on the floor to do yoga or do strength training with weights.

    This provider geared toward older seniors only has one live class every other day so there is no choice in time or selection. There is a catalog of videos which they started, but they preferred a live class. This is just sad for them because they enjoyed Silver Sneakers so much.

  12. There are now some streaming classes available through RenewActive, but if you want to get a streamed class specifically aimed at older people, only one option seems to do it … and they offer 15 live sessions in a month. With SilverSneakers, I was going to 6 live sessions a week, and each day I was choosing from a menu of 6 or 7 different classes. I’m angry about having my fitness program taken away from me.

  13. Looks like just another way to cheat the people, take away whatever good medical support….meaning physical activity especially for the aged….this is America……money first, people last.

  14. Hands Down -SILVER SNEAKERS!!! Both the RECOGNITION & CONVENIENCE of Silver Sneakers when joining ANY facility is worth it right there. I was decieved and so took United Healthcare. I had inquired if they had “Silver Sneakers” and the person told me yes so I went with UH for the year. Every time I went to a gym (LA Fitness, YMCA, 24/7), it was a big long process to use Renew Active…. with the YMCA it was actually Days!! Also, the Y’s have free classes and pool classes for ONLY Silver Sneaks participants. Active Renew is NOT included in these free classes. I did change my healthcare specifically because of the total inconvenience of Renew Active vs the total recognition and convenience of Silver Sneakers. Don’t beleive the hype that they’re similar. They are NOT SIMILAR at all. Silver Sneakers is the only good plan for seniors. (Renew Active also doesn’t give you a laminated card, so try having the number handy – it’s not the insurance card number and I think its about 10 digits long) Bottom line: I hated Renew Active and actually never used a gym because it was SO inconvenient to use.

    • I just signed up at my local community Rec Plex and it took less than 5 minutes. I provided my Renew Active number and completed a form with my name, address, and contact info. They took my photo and handed me an plastic membership ID card. I can participate in any group classes, they have two gyms (weight machines and one more geared for Crossfit), a track, cardio room, aerobics rooms, two indoor pools (one with lap lanes and water walking) and one outdoor pool, steam rooms & saunas, ice skating rinks, and more. I’m just putting this information out there because not everyone is limited for choosing Renew Active over Silver Sneakers.

  15. I am completely heartbroken over losing Silver Sneakers. Many of us seniors worked our whole lives and now big companies like The Advantage plans keep taking away benefits and coverages from us. We were told that Renew had online coverage I have chronic lung issues (no I never smoked)
    and my pulmonologist has not wanted me to be in group sessions. Silver
    Sneakers was the best benefit I have ever had. Renew sounds very limited
    You want to keep us healthy but take away our best benefit and give us
    Brain games Are you serious United Healthcare takes away more and more I am drowning in medical expenses not covered

  16. I had no complaint with UHC until last year when I tried using my Renewed Active Confirmation Code at a local gym(listed on UHC website) that many of my neighbors in my senior apartment complex use. No one knew what I was talking about! Trying again now, a year later because I was excited to learn of a 1/2 hour “Silver Splash”, followed by 1/2 hour “Arthritis Foundation Workout”, both in the pool, back to back, by the same seniors instructor. Silver Sneakers floor/chair workout follows that and I am keen to take all 3 in a row on Tues. and Thurs.! Now I am told I am not eligible for ANY Silver Sneakers Classes b/c I have Renew Active! So, I should jump in the water between the back to back pool classes for the Arthritis Foundation Class only? Do I have to prove I have arthritis? Grrr. I do have to pay for pool use, $20.00/month, but that won’t cover SS pool classes? I am not interested in the machines, only the senior classes, which are mostly in the pool.. SO I don’t see what Renew Active is even benefiting me….Now looking into other insurance carriers!

  17. I found Renew Active gives me access to high end gyns whereas Silver Sneakers does not. I live in Northern Virginia and with Renew Active I can get access to Lifetime Fitness, which is not available with Silver Sneakers. Silver Sneakers have more low end gyms.

  18. Very disappointed with discontinuing Silver Sneakers as I could sign up for specialized classes in diffeeeent levels and had great workouts at home…no need to go to the gym especially since Covid plus it felt like a specialized class as you could chat with the instructor! I prefer not to go to a crowdedgym nor class, Silver Sneakers at home was sooo much better! Not happy with your decision, your program is useless to me!

  19. Removing Silver Sneakers from my benefits and replacing with Renew Active is soooo wrong ! You advertise online classes yet your reps know nothing about it. Live online classes were so advantageous since Covid, not having to leave your home and having a one on one with the wonderful instructors, so many class choices! I have absolutely no interest in brain games! Renew active is useless to me and yet the charge is in my premium!


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