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Queen Creek resident makes finalist list for 2024 SilverSneakers Instructor of the Year award

Queen Creek resident Summer Marshall's fitness journey is a testament to her perseverance and dedication. It started with one class and over the last four years it has continuously grown. Mountainside Queen Creek now offers eight SilverSneakers classes, seven of which are taught by Marshall.

From not being able to run a mile to being a finalist for the 2024 SilverSneakers Instructor of the Year award, Summer Marshall has had her own unique fitness journey. 

Growing up in Queen Creek, Marshall went to college for health and wellness, initially working in the healthcare industry. Having a family history of obesity and losing her sister, she’s seen firsthand what obesity-related illnesses can do. 

After experiencing massive layoffs in the healthcare industry, Marshall began going to the gym to find a sense of community. A few of her group fitness instructors told her that she should work in group fitness and in 2017, she got certified.

It was after subbing for a few different senior classes that she found her passion in working with that age group. SilverSneakers is a free program for seniors through eligible Medicare Advantage plans. Each class is designed for seniors of all ability levels.

In 2020, when Mountainside Fitness Queen Creek began offering SilverSneakers, Marshall got SilverSneakers certified. She is also a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach.

It started with one class and over the last four years it has continuously grown. Mountainside Queen Creek now offers eight SilverSneakers classes, seven of which are taught by Marshall.

“I fell in love with getting to know each and every one of my participants, " Marshall said. “I feel like with every participant I could come up with an awesome memory or win that I’ve gotten to share with them.” 

Every class can be modified to fit each individual’s needs and cater to their abilities. 

“My goal is to help people reduce illness and ailments related to both obesity and sedentary lifestyles. Some of the best moments have been seeing members build strength and having members come up to me to tell me that after starting they were able to reduce or stop taking medications (at the discretion of their physician),” explained Marshall. “Seeing my members actively aging and being able to live their retirement years to their fullest is the best feeling in the world.”

Fitness has played a huge role in her life and Marshall wants to share that. She shared that prior to joining the gym, she fell into the trap of not caring for her body. 

“I understood that you could sit back and choose to do nothing or keep going… I decided to start running. I said ‘you know what Summer, you’ve never once in your life run one mile.’ I put that goal on my list. I ran my first mile,” Marshall noted. She started with one mile, made her way to 5Ks and now has completed an ultramarathon. “That’s my fitness journey. I run ultramarathons and I teach my SilverSneakers and we do amazing things together.”

Her group is a community. “We celebrate each other’s wins daily, but we also help each other get through some very rough challenges,” Marshall explained. “This group is truly a family and we are always open to more family members.” 

It was the individuals in her class who nominated Marshall for the 2024 SilverSneakers Instructor of the Year award. Through the recognition of her members, Marshall was chosen out of over 800 nominees from around the country. The national award is based not only on the quantity of nominations, but also the quality. 

“What I like about Summer’s story is that she’s been there. I’ve heard individuals who go to the gym who say ‘well of course the fitness instructor is fit, that’s their job. They’ve always been like that.’ But as we’ve heard from Summer, she’s seen both sides of it,” said Christina Chu, vice president of FINN Partners, the public relations firm representing SilverSneakers. “Yes, she’s a fitness instructor and exercises and is fit, but that wasn’t always the case. For those who feel intimidated, know that she gets it. She can relate to them and help them along their journey. I think it’s such a beautiful journey that we don’t always hear from fitness instructors.”

Marshall has earned her spot as one of the top five finalists for the award. 

“I always tell people whether they're coming to my SilverSneakers class or one of my high intensity cycling classes that the worst that can happen is you only enjoy the music,” said Marshall. “You may have to pull back or slow down and put the weights down, but that’s okay. Just enjoy the music and get your body moving whatever that may be.”

Mountainside Fitness Queen Creek is located at 21002 S. Ellsworth Loop Road. Membership information and the class schedule can be found online at

Information about SilverSneakers and the finalists for the 2024 Instructor of the Year award can be found at