ISSUE ADDRESSED:Little is known about the effectiveness of once-weekly strength training programs for older adults based in community settings. This pilot study evaluated such a program to assess changes in the functional fitness of participants. METHODS:A pre-test/post-test within subjects study design was used with new participants in the 10-week Staying Active, Staying Strong (SASS) program (all aged 50+ years). The Seniors Fitness Test (SFT) and SF-36 were used to assess functional fitness and health-related quality of life respectively. Perception of physical ability was assessed using a study-specific questionnaire. Pre- and post-test SFT and SF-36 scores were compared using paired t-tests. Frequency of responses was used to describe participant perceptions. RESULTS:110 evaluation participants (mean age 68.2 years; 85% female), 49% of those who completed the pre-test, also completed the post-test. Evaluation participants significantly improved their strength (assessed using arm curls and sit-to-stand); endurance (two-minute step test); flexibility (sit and reach, back scratch); and agility/dynamic balance (eight-foot up and go). SF-36 physical-functioning domain scores also significantly improved. Most participants reported improved strength, fitness, mobility, general well-being and confidence in performing daily activities. CONCLUSION:Weekly, community-based strength training programs show promise in improving the functional capacity, including the strength, of older adults. More thorough evaluation is now required to confirm these findings.