Thanks to a grant from Interior Savings, the Ashcroft HUB has been able to purchase new equipment for its FUNctional Fitness Program, and HUB executive director Vicky Trill says she’s looking forward to being able to offer expanded services after putting many activities on hold during the last 16 months.
“Before the pandemic we had Choose to Move, which is a provincially-funded program for seniors, and we had a significant group of people active in that and in the Active Aging program. They were making progress, but the pandemic halted the whole thing.
“When we got back to regular living and were able to offer programs again I reconnected with those people, and was so sad for the seniors in our area, because I had call after call from people saying ‘If I’d still been in this program my life would be different.’ Many people weren’t leaving the house [during the pandemic], whereas before they were getting out daily. The pandemic has been really negative for seniors, and activity levels have taken a dive.”
Trill says she wanted to find ways to increase seniors’ functional fitness while ensuring there is low-impact equipment that is appropriate for those with mobility issues. “We had some equipment like that, but not enough to respond to the demand I’m seeing so far. The wish of seniors is to get together socially and improve their fitness.”
Trill knew what equipment she wanted. She had noticed that some of the seniors she worked with were apprehensive, at first, about using Merv’s Gym at the HUB. “It seems like it’s for young people, but once you do some classes I find that seniors are some of our most avid users. I wanted to add some pieces of equipment that are more suited for their age group.”
The $10,000 grant from Interior Savings allowed the HUB to purchase an inversion table, an air assault bike, and a seated glider with a swivel-out seat which makes it easier for people with mobility issues to get on and off. They also purchased aqua belts and aqua bells for use in the pool: the belts support people in deeper water, while the bells are buoyant dumbbells that add resistance.
“We have some other ways to really work on functional fitness and strengthening so seniors can maintain independence, like doing various exercises with stretchy fitness bands. They get muscles moving in different directions, but they’re not heavy weights, where if your grip fails they’ll drop. We also bought some thicker fitness mats, for people who can’t kneel on the floor.”
When Aquafit classes were offered at the beginning of the summer they were booked out by the end of June, which Trill has never seen before. “I thought ‘Okay, this is a trend I’m seeing.’ Seniors really want to reconnect and get some of their life back.”
While the FUNctional Fitness Program is not exclusive to seniors, they are the focus. Choose to Move — which is for those 65 or older who are considered sedentary — has just restarted, and there will be another intake in the fall. “There’s a lot of education and personal connection in that program,” explains Trill, “everything from brain health to healthy eating. It’s about thriving as you age. There’s a little bit of movement and exercise, but it’s about education first and foremost.” Active Aging, which is a fitness class, will also be restarting.
Trill says that when she made the pitch to Interior Savings about the grant funding, she emphasized that there were a number of programs they wanted to expand for the fall, covering a wide range of people, whether they were on their couch and wanted to be more mobile in their home to seniors who were already active.
“Interior Savings was the first one to believe in the concept of the Ashcroft HUB as a community hub,” she says. “They gave us the money that started Merv’s Gym, so we have it because of them. They gave us the seed money to make it sustainable, and they’ve continued to support us throughout our growth.”
For more information about any of the fitness programs at the HUB, call (250) 453-9177 or email email@example.com.