vibrantBrains, a gym to exercise our brains, has recently opened in San Francisco. We all buy into the health club idea for our bodies so why not one to tone our brains, too? The vibrantBrains folks have created a pleasant, bright space on Sacramento Street, close to cafes, shops, and residential areas. They have the front of the club filled with interesting books, including some bestsellers, by scientists and others on various aspects of brain research and how the brain works; the middle part of the club is filled with state-of-the-art computers with headphones nearby. A lounge area with comfy chairs and tea, coffee, and water always available fills the floor-to-ceiling windowed alcove at the back of the club and is a great place to chat with other members. They have developed Neurobics Circuit Training, which incorporates a number of scientifically based software programs that enable a club member to work on different skills for each visit or a variety of skills within a workout and at a huge discount over trying to find and purchase these programs individually. These games and exercises, based on hard science, emphasize different skills, such as memory, reasoning, visual scanning, word recall, and quantitative facility, or a combination of many of these skills at once. They also focus on increasing speed and accuracy, with practice.
Just as we need to lift weights to insure that are our muscles are strong enough to swim or dance, we also need to strengthen our speed and accuracy with memory, reasoning, and visual scanning skills to make sudoku or a crossword puzzle fun. Or to make a challenging book enjoyable to read.
For those who want to add more intensity (and hard science), vibrantBrains also makes other programs available at a discount to its members, including Dr. Gary Small's (from the UCLA Center for Aging) Memory Fitness Course and Posit Science's Brain Fitness Program.
The vibrantBrains innovative founders, Jan Zivic and Lisa Schoonerman, may just have latched onto a trend that Boomers and others must incorporate into our lives to keep that notion that "60 is the new 40" alive and well. And just to enjoy our lives more. They will also offer a speaker series soon as well as book clubs and other related activies.
I, along with most people I know, have figured out that I need a variety of exercises for my body, from aerobic ones like swimming and dancing, to weight training to flexibility training, such as yoga and Pilates, just to maintain. It's high time we added in specific exercises to tone the various everyday brain skills we need to maintain and even increase the quality of our lives. Better memory, reasoning, language, quantitative, and visual-spatial skills have to make living just more interesting and more fun.