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Getting active on National Fitness Day in Stoke-On-Trent

This year National Fitness Day falls on Wednesday 27 September and the organisers are encouraging the nation to celebrate the fun of fitness and physical activity across the UK. To mark the Day, this week Get Out Get Active (GOGA) is highlighting some of the fantastic fitness sessions taking place all year-round in different locations.

Older people in a seated exercise class

In 2011, énergie Group, the largest and fastest growing fitness franchise company in the UK, founded National Fitness Day. The company then gifted National Fitness Day to ukactive in 2014. The aim is to establish National Fitness Day as the most active day of the year.

We know the benefits of regular exercise includes a healthier heart, increased wellbeing, and a better quality of life. However, many of us find it a struggle. Research shows that if you exercise in company, you are more likely to stick at it. The social atmosphere creates a positive environment that is important in helping us to have fun. This is at the heart of GOGA’s work- fun and inclusion.

Funded by Spirit of 2012, GOGA is an exciting programme that supports disabled and non‑disabled people to take part in fun and inclusive activities together. It aims to make activity more appealing for everyone. Working in 18 different areas across the UK, partners are delivering over 30,000 sessions over three years. One of those locations is Stoke and their team has set up Super Seniors sessions. Here, we talk to Kate Beer, European City of Sport 2016 Theme Lead – Communities, at City of Stoke-on-Trent, about the benefits of regular fitness opportunities that are accessible at a local level.

Super Seniors Fitness Class

The project started as a six week taster called “Get fit for Christmas” at Dresden scout hut. It got so popular that when it finished, everyone asked if it could carry on. From the New Year we called it “Super seniors” fitness class and it has been going strong ever since.

Janet Henson, the instructor, leads the sessions in the same scout hut, every Friday morning between 10 and 11am. She helps to promote the sessions with flyers and participants spreading the word.

The participants are a mixed bunch of retired locals, over 50 years old, disabled and non-disabled as well as some from the BAME community. They all have different fitness levels so it’s important that we offer lots of alternative exercises that they can take part in. The majority of the group are new to these sessions and fitness classes but some of them go on local walks or swimming.

We’ve seen the numbers grow over the last few months. The participants say they have felt and seen the benefit of regular exercise and have all made new friends. It has helped decrease their social isolation and some of them go out for coffee after the class.

The attendees enjoy the sessions and most importantly, look forward to coming each week. Some of the group have helped volunteer at the local park when they have different events on like Armed Forces Day, teddy bear picnics and the dog show. This has helped them feel that they have a role in the community and can see the benefits of bringing the community together.

The group has reported that they have more energy and can see an improvement in their mobility, strength, posture and balance. They have seen positive improvements in their physical and mental wellbeing. Some have joined other fitness classes and say, as they age, can see the benefits of keeping physically fit. One woman has lost two stone in weight. Another came using a walking stick because of her impairment and she now doesn’t have to use it. Some of the group can now do the floor/max work instead of doing it in the chair.

Find out how you can get involved in the Get Out Get Active programme here.