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Seniors find balance with gymnastics in Gander

The second component of the class take place in the main area of the gym where an obstacle course which include walking on a balance help participants to be confident in their balance.
The second component of the class take place in the main area of the gym where an obstacle course which include walking on a balance help participants to be confident in their balance. - Clarence Ngoh

GANDER, NL – While the groove music from 70s play in the background, a group of ladies began their warm-ups in the Bones and Balance class at the Aerials Gymnastics Club.

This class started two and a half years ago and is based on a gymnastics program to help elderly people maintain muscle density, flexibility and balance according to gym manager Lyndsey Rayner.

These are important to build on, Rayner explains because “when you trip, muscle and flexibility are the two used to recover from falling.”

The exercise program is split into two components. The first half work with small hand weights and therabands, which are latex bands used for physical therapy and light training exercises. Most these exercises are performed siting on a chair or standing and using the chair for balance.

The second component is circuits. In the main floor of the gym, participants make their way through an obstacle course of foam pads, balance beams and a trampoline.

“The thought behind this is you walk on hardwood and carpet and pavement and you respond to the same kind of surfaces. When we fall, it is typically an uneven surface and your foot is not where it should be,” said Rayner.

“It is like walking on mushrooms and it is quite hard, and you have to use your core to stabilise yourself.”

Feedback about the program have been very positive, according to Rayner. The class, when it first started, was offered twice a week. Due to popularity and demand, the gym now offers these classes twice a day, three times a week.

Participants have noticed significant improvements to their balance and general well-being since taking these classes.

Margaret Redman, 80, who has osteoporosis, said the program has helped with her balance. She attends three times a week.

Ena Granter told The Beacon she was diagnosed with a muscle disease, Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR), two-and-a-half years ago. Her regular attendance to these classes has help with her recovery.

“Without treatment, I would have been permanently bedridden,” Granter said.

A cure is available for PMR, Granter explains, but it would take two to three years.

“I couldn’t walk a straight line and I’d hang on to my chair for balance (when I first started).

“Now I can walk a straight line and I don’t hold on to my chair. I feel very proud of my progress.”

Although the class is attended by women, Rayner said it is not specifically catered for men.

“This is just not for ladies – we have not seen any men come through, and we welcome them.”

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