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An Exercise in Personal Training

Volunteering for Age Concern Wellington can bring some surprising health benefits. The New Zealand Sports Institute sought our help in finding a client for one of the qualified personal trainers who were engaged in further study in their field.

The requirement for one of their classes was to create a programme and train a client to help them reach their goal(s). Jack Doile had expressed an interest in working with an older person for this assignment.

The deal would be 6-8 weeks of free personal training tailored specifically to an older client. Guess who ended up in the hot seat.

The first session was for an assessment and a bit of a chat about the programme, including an assessment of my physical abilities and agreeing on the goal(s) of the project.

As a person who fitted the age requirement and having written an article or two, I was aware of the likelihood of sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass) and general decline in fitness with the passage of the years. So, my goals for the project were to improve my fitness and flexibility – if possible.

After a suitable warm-up, the first real session involved squats, wall press-ups, arm and shoulder exercises with weights and stretch bands, step ups and a session on the stationary bike. That introduced me to muscles that had been in hibernation for a while, and it took me a couple of days to feel as though I was back to normal.

The sessions thereafter were relatively comfortable. While I worked at some of the exercises and warmed up during the 40-minute programme there was no need for any change of clothing from my regular outfit.

There was no stringent requirement for me to undertake to exercise programme between the weekly sessions, which I thought was a negative, but as I was volunteering, I did try out some of the exercises at home when my guilty conscience intervened. My usual weekly golf rounds were impacted by wet weather, but I did manage to keep up the regular twice weekly games of petanque at Waitangi Park and my occasional walks.

The programme suffered a few glitches as Jack encountered the effects of Covid. This meant that there were only five full sessions before the final assessment was required to fit in with the term time and the deadline for assignments.

I thought that there might be a slight change after the five sessions in eight weeks but was surprised to know that my flexibility and general fitness had improved by about 15 percent. Maybe there is something to be said for this exercise racket.

Age Concern Wellington Region has established a number of Steady As You Go (SAYGO) classes which provide gentle exercise sessions specifically designed for older people. They are designed to improve core strength and balance and thus prevent falls.  Steady as You Go classes improve: Balance and leg strength, Flexibility, General fitness and well-being.  And are a great way to meet new people. They are a lot less strenuous than the personal training sessions but can still do you the world of good.

For more information on the classes go to https://www.acwellington.org.nz/saygoexercise/


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