They say, ‘getting old is not for the elderly’. This is not the case for a group of senior Aucklanders who are enthusiastically reclaiming their health and vitality as part of a community-based initiative run by the YMCA.
Designed by AUT, never2old is a health and wellness programme running in several YMCA Auckland centres, structured to give senior citizens back their independence, educate them on healthy living and enrich their lives through fitness and wellbeing exercises.
What never2old is all about
The never2old initiative focuses on keeping its members (aged 60-89) fit and healthy, helping them train for adventure camps, and teaching exercises to strengthen the body for practical applications such as lifting grandchildren or taking heavy items off shelves. Not only is the body a serious focus, but the holistic and social atmosphere of never2old is a strong one, as the group is tight-knit and cares deeply about one another.
Classes are not static, each week there is a new activity and exercise type to learn and master. From Tai Chi to Zumba, all the way through to Pilates, Drums Alive and spin classes, the exercise aim for never2old is to keep fitness varied to encourage the entire body to stay healthy and active.
The never2old programme in action
Patrick (who you can see in the pic up top!) is a never2old member who has been working on his fitness at never2old classes at the YMCA for several years now. Diagnosed with the degenerative condition Parkinsons Disease, Patrick felt challenged by the thought of going on a high ropes course with his never2old peers. After working towards improving his balance through the never2old programme, he was excited at the prospect of testing his skills, and after much encouragement from his never2old teammates, Patrick pushed himself to complete the high-ropes course. With every step Patrick took, his confidence grew. He not only climbed the high pole to get onto the ropes by himself, he made it across and back down, quietly, strongly, and in the face of his fear.
YMCA takes the initiative to new levels
Auckland Central YMCA has had so much success with their never2old programme that they have taken the initiative to new levels, injecting their own flavour to the formality and structure of the programme.
Led by the Argentinean never2old Coordinator Claudia Gallur, each member is special and their individual medical needs are taken into careful consideration when their programme begins. Going above and beyond requirements, Claudia uses her own time to write reports on her never2old members, sending these to their GPs and medical specialists, keeping them regularly updated on changing health concerns.
Upon referral from their GP, or the Heart Foundation (as a Phase 3 Cardiac Club member) a new member will be assessed on their fitness level, and suitably set up with a tailor-made fitness programme. From there, training begins and they are able to participate in never2old exercise classes two or three times a week.
Where to from here?
Moving out of the gym and utilising their fitness skills, never2old members from around Auckland get together annually for the ‘Modified sports days’, a highly anticipated and competitive day for all members. Auckland City YMCA never2old’s ‘City Slickers’ team have taken the last title out, dominating across the board in sports which have been modified to keep everyone safe (for example, netball is played without running.)
Health specialists regularly come in and lecture on specific health topics, which encourages lively discussion on a range of topics, and there is a very strong social culture amongst members. The never2old Social Committee ensures birthdays, outings, dinners and lunches are all woven into the never2old calendar, fostering a wonderful group dynamic that encourages and pushes each member to achieve in their exercise classes.
Onward and upward!
Currently, the never2old Auckland members are training for an adventure camp in February, to be held at the iconic YMCA Camp Adair in Hunua. Funded by the Ted and Mollie Carr Endowment fund, activities on the three day camp are exhausting for any intrepid camper – let alone a senior! Training leading up to the camp is specific for the skills they will need for the camp, including balance for high ropes, strength exercises for kayaking, and cardio for the bush hikes. Never2old members will sleep in tents and spend time engaging in team building exercises as well – fostering the spirit of friendship and support that never2old is famous for.
With member numbers sitting at around 60 in Auckland central. If you know someone who could be interested – a mother, grandmother, relative, friend, or it could even be you yourself! – YMCA never2old is open to all new members.
Image / never2old & YMCA