Being active is a huge part of healthy living and our residents at our Care &Supported Housing scheme, Westcroft, in Tring certainly agree.
It’s been a gradual process getting residents involved with gym sessions but now many say that it is now their favourite activity all week.
It started as many of these things do, in a very organic way – with staff members attending a local gym in Dunstable and chatting to the owner Graham Waugh. Graham was once dubbed ‘Britain’s fattest man’, weighing over 700lb. Since then, he has gone on to lose over 400lb and start his own gym to make fitness and a healthier lifestyle accessible to everyone, and create spaces where everyone feels safe to exercise.
After chatting to the staff at Westcroft, Graham visited the residents to see if he could help them to get active, and to see what they would like to do. The residents of Westcroft have a variety of learning and physical disabilities so sessions were set up based on the needs and requirements of the group. Graham is great at suggesting ideas to modify exercises and working with each resident on their needs.
Initially Graham and his colleague Jude ran classes in the hall opposite the scheme, allowing residents to get comfortable with the style of exercises and to assess what would work best for each person. Graham and Jude brought along all the equipment, including ramps for those in wheelchairs, and set up each exercise to develop their confidence.
Some service users came along to watch initially, being fearful of exercising in front of others, or simply worrying that it wasn’t for them. One resident had specifically wanted to lose weight and met with the staff at Westcroft to discuss how this could happen. The team suggested exercise classes but the resident was worried about going. With Graham’s option being so close and designed specifically for Westcroft, residents encouraged him to overcome his concerns and to go along to see how the classes worked.
Since then classes have now been moved to the gym in Dunstable which is set up with equipment specially designed for users with disabilities. The resident who was so worried to start with is now one of the most consistent visitors of Graham’s gym in Dunstable. He checks with staff every week to make sure the taxi has been booked!
There has been a huge change with the residents who now visit the gym, not only in their fitness levels but also in their confidence. One resident now wants to be a personal trainer, while another realised that they enjoy the social aspect of fitness more than expected and has joined multiple local teams to exercise with others.
Westcroft are a great example of trying something new that really worked out. Graham has been a huge help in encouraging residents to get involved, improve their fitness and their overall wellbeing.