Trainer urges older clients to keep moving
When Frances Smith started fitness business Actively Aging the hardest part was just finding clients.
The 24-year-old’s target customers — older people, weren’t on social media the way her own generation was.
In the end, what worked was good, old-fashioned word of mouth.
“Usually, they hear about the class through their children or other people,” she said. “And people tend to come with a group of friends.”
Since starting last August, she has around 20 students who take part in her 11am Friday morning class.
She has been a personal trainer for four years, and also teaches at Exhale Spa at the Hamilton Princess&Beach Club, King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and at the Lifelong Learning Centre at the Bermuda College.
“I studied dance in London,” she said. “I have always been fit throughout my life and had to focus on physical education. Then I went down the dance route and learnt more about the body and conditioning.
“I found I was better working with people in a gym. I took an extra course in personal training, which I loved.”
Her grandmother in England is one of her inspirations.
“She is very into exercise and being active,” Ms Smith said.
She started connecting with seniors locally last year and found there wasn’t a lot on offer for them.
“A lot don’t have anywhere to go,” she said.
And she discovered a lot of seniors found the gym to be a daunting environment.
“The gym, is more for healthy, fit younger people,” she said.
So when she set up Actively Aging she wanted to make classes as inviting for seniors as possible. At the Peace Lutheran Church there’s a car park right outside the hall, so seniors don’t have far to walk to class. While her students do stand up and move around, everyone has a chair to sit on.
“It is quite a slow-paced, relaxed environment,” she said.
Students range in age from 50s to 90s, and just have to be able to get up and down off their chair. For some, the class is their own weekly physical activity, while others are part of walking groups, do yoga, or take an exercise class at the Lifelong Learning Centre at the Bermuda College.
She said it’s vital for people to stay active.
“The exercise helps to reduce their aches and pains,” she said. “I had a lady who didn’t attend for a while and it all came back, so it is best to keep yourself moving. The more you do it, the better you will become. Everyone should exercise. I definitely want to keep myself moving through my life. It is never too late to start exercising or go to a class.”
She said she can spot the people who stay active.
“They are mentally happier, and can do more physically,” Ms Smith said. “They can do more, and don’t have as many injuries.”
Ms Smith has also found that for some of her Actively Aging students, the class is as much of a chance to socialise as it is to exercise. So she builds in time to chat during water breaks. She loves how her students share information about their lives.
She has had good feedback from her students, and also their children and grandchildren.
“I have had a few e-mails from people saying thank you for putting this on,” she said. “They have seen a huge difference in their loved one. They get out. They feel more positive about themselves. They feel good.”
At the moment, the class is predominantly female.
“I do struggle to get men to come to the class,” she said. “I find all of my fitness classes are mostly women.”
In the future she’d like to offer Actively Aging classes across the island. “I want to do more stretch and release classes,” she said. “I want to do more of a cardio class for seniors who want to move a bit more.”
She charges $10 a class, and there’s no penalty if a student can’t make it to class.
“I don’t want people to feel stuck if they can’t come,” she said. “With seniors, they have doctors appointments, they have to take care of their grandchildren. They have to stay home for certain reasons.”
• For information e-mail email@example.com, or call 518-4756
Survivor tells of life-changing experience
Covid: no new cases reported today
Bermudian seniors on holiday stranded in UK
Shoppers implored to resist panic-buying
Burt: we must dig deep to defeat Covid-19
Public schools to reopen ‘when safe’
Grocery deliverers on standby
Take Our Poll