Longridge Community Gym successfully received funding from the Tackling Inequalities Fund in 2020 to continue supporting over 60’s to improve their physical and mental health.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the gym held regular sessions for people aged 60 and beyond to help keep them moving and allow for them to connect with friends, which had a huge impact on their mental wellbeing. As the pandemic took charge across the Country and lockdown led to gyms closing, Longridge Community Gym required additional support and funding to allow for them to adapt their services and continue supporting vulnerable, elderly residents.
The additional funding from Sport England enabled the gym to offer a variety of support to meet the differing needs of participants, the 3 types of sessions offered were:
- Online and remote – Pre-recorded seat-based workouts were sent via email to those individuals who did not feel comfortable attending the gym under current restrictions. This was supported by a weekly befriending phone call
- One to one – Where possible small group sessions were encouraged to save on costings, but one to one sessions were provided to 4 participants, once or twice a week
- Group Sessions – 14 attendees came along to group sessions 2-3 times per week
Each participant received a phone call or email from the gym to establish which option would be best suited to their needs, they then worked together to develop a service that would be safe but effective. There were only a small number of participants who opted for the one to one sessions as many were feeling isolated and lonely, therefore the group sessions provided a social lifeline.
The gym had to take into consideration a number of restrictions when delivering the face-to-face sessions to meet government guidelines, they introduced a number of measures such as pre-booking sessions, a maximum time of 50 minutes, groups limited to 7 people, no use of changing rooms and showers, a deep clean of facilities following each session and all windows and doors open to allow for 100% fresh air flow at all times.
Adapting to the constant changes in restrictions and guidelines has been difficult for the gym, but they have overcome barriers to ensure their vulnerable, elderly participants continued to receive support when they needed it the most. Feedback from participants has been extremely positive, with people glad to return to exercise and reconnect with friends, highlighting the importance of services of this kind during what has been an extremely difficult time. Comments from attendees include:
Keith Kaye – “At 70 I never thought that I would find a new family, let alone one that is so good at keeping mind and body together in these troubled times. With more underlying issues than most I feel safe and sound.”
Vanessa stringer – “Everyone is so friendly and helpful, it is one of the best things I did joining sessions, it is my only escape and I feel safe and happy during this terrible time. I care for my husband with Parkinson’s and the sessions allow me a break from caring and help me keep my own physical and mental health strong.”
Angela Harrison, Manager of Longridge Community Gym commented on the success of the sessions saying, “It is very humbling to hear that the sessions are a lifeline for those that attend, and for us to see all the benefits to not just the physical wellbeing but the mental and emotional support that sessions bring. The secret to our success is the fun and friendship, we are all close and feel like a little family. Our close bond enables us to have an intimate understanding of the needs and goals and aspirations, we work together. We understand the issues faced and work as a team to make progressive changes which in turn change lives. we look after each other outside the sessions with texts, calls and video sessions via emails – the video sessions mostly they are just a bit silly and fun, but that’s what works for us, and during this difficult time we need to cherish any bit of silliness we can!”
Find out more about the Tackling Inequalities Fund here.