Free places are being offered to the elderly to keep them active and connected over Christmas and the dark days of January, and the first 300 sign ups recive the resistance band.

A fitness group for the elderly is offering free spaces online across the UK for those struggling with isolation over the winter months.

“The Move it or Lose it Club” funded by National Lottery and Sport England and with support from EMD UK, offers an interactive and easy to use club to keep people active – physically, mentally, and socially in the coming months.

Everyone who joins the Club during December gets one month free and receives a resistance band to help them stay strong while they stay at home. And thanks to some extra funding from #CelebrateNationalLottery25 the online portal, which has been designed to be easy to navigate and use for silver surfers, they now have 36 free spaces for six months of membership to give away to the first takers.

The club was the brainchild of Julie Robinson, the founder of Move it of Lose it, a group set up ten years ago in response to a lack of resources to help older people to be more active whatever their age or ability.

However since March, they have had to become creative, hosting free online sessions to ensure the edlerly ‘kept moving’ despite many of them shielding, in a way to try and help further protect the NHS from future health concerns which could arise from people being inactive and losing their muscle strength.

Julie said: “The Club is designed so members can feel part of a community, combat loneliness and also help them try new exercise classes such as dance, Pilates, mindfulness or seated exercise. They can even get medical advice – all from the comfort of their own home.”

“This second lockdown is going to be tough on a lot of people, and in particular those who have health problems, live on their own or are a slightly older generation and are used to being out and about seeing friends or going to community groups to stay active. This is why we teamed up with Sport England and EMD UK with this project, to make sure we keep this generation moving and independent,” she said.

Julie added: “In effect, it is creating a real sense of community online to replace what people would normally have face-to-face. There’s a wide selection of exercises to suit all abilities, there’s a social club where people can chat and connect and there’s live sessions with all sorts of activities from book clubs to bingo and crafts to cookery,” she said.

The launch has been really successful, and Julie appeared on national BBC News in December to talk more about the group. However she is keen to get more people involved, and is also urging those who have elderly relatives or parents to consider it as a gift to them for Christmas.

“The Club” was piloted to ensure it is easy to use and accessible for the over 65s and allows new users to try before they buy by getting their first month free of charge. Then it’s just 17p day with a monthly subscription £4.99 a month which can be cancelled at any time.

The free spaces can be obtained by using the code XMASFREE when signing up.

Sandra Wagstaff,aged 73 from Sutton Coldfield said it had been a lifeline as she had previously gone to the weekly classes.

“I am missing the classes but the club provides such a wide range of options, with social chats, different levels of exercise , and really interesting and informative talks, all of which can be watched on “catch up”  if we can’t watch when they are “live”.  You don’t have to be a computer expert to use the website,” she said.

Sandra Ostins, aged 74 from Walsall said: “My husband died earlier this year and I’ve found it very difficult to keep myself going especially through lockdown. It’s easy to just sit and do nothing so the club has been a bit of a lifeline for me. There’s something to look forward to everyday and get involved in and I’ve actually been exercising more because I can do it whenever I want in my own home with no one watching! It makes you feel a little less lonely and I think it will really help me get through the winter months ahead.” *

Funding for the project has been secured from the Tackling Inequalities Fund through Sport England which has been set aside to help, among other things, reduce the negative impact the coronavirus has on people with long-term health conditions.
Tim Hollingsworth, Sport England’s Chief Executive, said: “We are proud to be able to provide funding and support to Move it or Lose it in this difficult period. This funding will help support our valuable community infrastructure that is so important in keeping the nation active. This will also provide important connections and reconnections for people whose lives have been affected by COVID-19 and for whom remaining active is so important for their physical, mental and social wellbeing.”
Earlier this year Move it or Lose it teamed up with Olympic Gold Medallist Tessa Sanderson to run a campaign to keep the elderly moving through their ‘Stand up for the NHS’ drive.

Julie said: “We were honoured to have Tessa onboard to help draw attention for our need to keep the elderly as fit and healthy as they can be, especially in such difficult and unusual times, and we are forever grateful for her support. We want to build on the immensely great work we made in the summer. We really think our new club is the answer to bring people together and support them to stay active and connected while they stay safe at home.”

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