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Employee Spotlight: Kerry Paulhus, Director of Health and Fitness, The Willows at Westborough

Kerry Paulhus joined The Willows at Westborough, a SALMON independent living community, as the Director of Health and Fitness in the summer of 2022.

After working as a fitness specialist for another senior living community for 13 years, Kerry was ready for an opportunity to grow in her career. Allison Karsay, SALMON at Medway’s Director of Resident Success and Events, first shared the opportunity at SALMON Senior Living with Kerry.

Kerry’s time with The Willows has been rewarding. She shares, “While getting settled in a new community always has its learning curves, it’s been great. I’ve made new connections with residents and staff alike. The community already feels like family.” Kerry goes on to say, “Since day one, Shawn [Neville, Chief Operating Officer and former Director of Campus Operations for Westborough] has encouraged and supported me to be creative. Most importantly, he’s also trusted my expertise to make some exciting new changes to the health and fitness department at The Willows.”

Kerry has demonstrated her creativity by making significant transformations in the fitness rooms at The Willows and Whitney Place at Westborough:

“I removed a few pieces of equipment that weren’t being used, replaced the old carpet with gym flooring and added a ballet bar to one of the walls to allow for more hands-on, balance-specific exercises, which are very important for seniors.”

“Change is never easy, and I had some really big shoes to fill,” Kerry explains. “The residents and staff have not only welcomed me with open arms but have been very accepting of the changes as well.”

The changes to the fitness space have allowed Kerry to create her supervised exercise program, working with up to four residents at a time. Her 45-minute group sessions are held twice a week. Additionally, Kerry will meet with residents individually to learn more about their health history and exercise goals and to create a personalized exercise program for them.

Kerry reflects, “I find that the small groups allow for more intimate socialization, creating a fun atmosphere and helps residents trust me more. With set appointments, residents have been accountable and sticking to their program, which has been ultimately helping them meet their personal health and fitness goals.” Kerry currently has 34 residents in the program and is nearing a wait list.

Danielle Hoover, director of sales for The Willows, describes Kerry as “unbelievable in getting residents engaged in her programming and department. She’s been amazing!”

Kerry’s passion for working with seniors started years ago when she taught a class for individuals with various health conditions.

“I realized I really wanted to help people manage their health conditions in natural ways through exercise and wellness,” she recalls. Kerry also notes that she’s always liked being around seniors throughout her life, so the concept of working with them was a natural choice, both personally and professionally.

Kerry holds a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology and is certified in a variety of health and wellness modalities, including yoga, tai chi, mindfulness and working with special populations.

“There’s so much unity among the staff in The Willows at Westborough. I’ve never seen anything like it,” says Kerry. “Each department has a teamwork mentality and is always willing to help each other. Sometimes, members from the maintenance team will set up the fitness room for me ahead of my morning classes. The little things go a long way.”

When Kerry isn’t teaching classes and mentoring individuals on their health and fitness journeys, she puts on her hockey mom hat and can be found with her husband Ryan at the rink cheering on their two sons, 11-year-old Ryan and eight-year-old Michael.

Read more about The Willows at Westborough.

SALMON Health and Retirement