Town of St. Marys seeking volunteer fitness instructors

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Free exercise classes strengthen seniors’ bodies and minds

Word is spreading about Town of St. Marys free Falls Prevention Group Exercise classes, coordinated by the Senior Services Department and funded through the South West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN).

“We offer 26 classes per week with different locations, intensity levels and times,” says Town of St. Marys Wellness Coordinator Pauline White, “Some of those classes are small, with less than 10 participants, but others have seen up to 30 to 40 participants lately.”

The goal of the classes is to prevent falls by improving participants’ balance, co-ordination, posture, flexibility, strength and cardio endurance. “We try to do all of this while adding music and a few laughs in a social setting,” explains Volunteer Fitness Instructor Susan McCutcheon. “Many of our class members have become great friends…and also help to encourage and motivate each other.”

In order to maintain the program’s high standards, the Town is currently seeking more volunteer instructors, “We like to be flexible with the scheduling of the instructors based of their time and abilities, which leads to us needing more volunteers,” says White.  She’s hoping the stories of Barbra Williams and Susan McCutcheon will inspire more volunteers to step forward. With National Volunteer Week taking place from April 15 to 21, White also wants to highlight the great work already being done in the community.

Susan McCutcheon started volunteering as a fitness instructor in 2006, after seeing an advertisement in the local paper.

“Volunteering gives me a chance to share something that I am interested in with others,” she says, “I live in a great community and leading fitness classes gives me an opportunity to give back.”

Witnessing participant success stories has been one of the most rewarding experiences for McCutcheon. “One person could only lift her arm to her ear and is now able to reach directly above her head. Several have mentioned that they feel better and some had no problem with all of the extra walking they did on a holiday trip. They mention tasks in their daily lives that have become easier since attending classes. It is nice for me as a leader to actually see the improvements.”

Barbra Williams is one such success story. She decided to attend the Falls Prevention Group Exercise classes to help her recover from an injury that left her with a fear of falling.

“For an hour everything disappears,” Williams says about the classes, “It’s a mood elevator. You can’t help but feel good.”

Williams’ participation in the classes is part of her philosophy of “embracing being a senior”. She’s looking forward to living an active lifestyle and credits the classes with enabling her to participate in activities such as dancing with her husband. Inspired by her success, Williams’ husband has also started attending fitness classes.

Speaking about the Town’s current team of fitness instructors, she says, “They have helped me in immeasurable ways.” She adds that the “quality of instruction is absolutely superb” and that instructors are “very considerate” in how they tailor exercises to match each participants’ abilities.

As with other volunteer positions, the Town provides plenty of training. Volunteer Fitness Instructors receive free access to certification and mentorship opportunities. Once trained, the minimum time commitment is two to three hours a month; however, plenty of flexibility is offered in terms of scheduling. 

To learn more about becoming a volunteer fitness instructor, contact Jenny Mikita at 519-284-2340, ext. 629 or volunteer@town.stmarys.on.ca

To learn more about Town of St. Marys group fitness programs, contact 519-284-3272 or friends@town.stmarys.on.ca.

Additional Information

National Volunteer Week
Volunteer Canada celebrates Canada’s 13.3 million volunteers during National Volunteer Week (NVW), which will take place from April 15 to 21, 2018. For more details visit https://volunteer.ca/nvw2018.

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Stacey Wheal | Corporate Communications Specialist
519-284-2340, ext. 429 | swheal@town.stmarys.on.ca