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Bringing the gym into your home

Rehabilitation Assistant David talks to us about the exercise sessions that he now delivers via Zoom

17 June 2020


The gym at St Christopher’s is a well-equipped and welcoming space for people to use. Normally, a team of rehabilitation experts run regular groups and sessions for people to attend to aid fitness, strength, function and quality of life. At the moment, though, during the coronavirus pandemic, the gym has had to be closed.

David McKenzie, a former Commonwealth gold-medal winning athlete, now one of our rehabilitation assistants, told us: “The gym is always so busy, it’s such a shame that we can’t see people face to face at the moment. But we’ve come up with plenty of ways that people can stay active and work out from home.”

David in action on Zoom

These include a series of exercises that can be undertaken lying down, sitting or standing, in the form of helpful videos on our website.

“We’ve also started holding gym sessions via Zoom,” David adds. You’ve probably seen how popular the daily online classes are from the fitness guru Joe Wicks, and just like him, David enables people to get fitter in their living rooms. It’s a simple idea, and it’s proven to be hugely popular.

David says, “At first during the lockdown, we were running classes on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and allowing everyone to join in, but this popularity was proving difficult to manage as I was unable to see everyone properly, as there were as many as 15 people in each class! 

“To make it fairer to everyone, we then arranged for one class per week per person, and now we have a maximum of 6 people in each class. We are also offering a maintenance group; which will increase our offering to those people who have completed six to nine weeks in circuits classes, and allow the admission of more people to our regular circuits sessions while keeping class sizes small.

David adds, “Everyone seems to enjoy our virtual exercise sessions and get lots of benefits from them. We’ve also managed to call people to help with issues surrounding mobility if we can, talking them through their issues, and sometimes we’ve just called to check in to see how they’re coping in quarantine.”

“Due to the new smaller class sizes, we can offer a more personalised service. For example, I can offer more individual teaching points during each class to ensure that exercises are completed correctly. 

“I give a range of exercises that are designed to strengthen muscle and improve endurance and balance. At the end of the class, people have the opportunity to speak with me or message me in the chat forum with any questions.”

Jacquie Lemmon, 78, from Beckenham has been attending David’s Zoom class. She had only just started attending the gym in Sydenham before it had to close.

When you’re sitting around doing nothing, you can feel more tired than if you’ve been doing something! Doing the exercises brings me to myself, it’s hard to explain.

Jacquie, a former teacher, says, “When you’re sitting around doing nothing, you can feel more tired than if you’ve been doing something! Doing the exercises brings me to myself, it’s hard to explain.

Jacquie on Zoom at home

“I used to dance when I was younger and I found it quite difficult when my first knee gave up. I was unable to do what I could do before. Now all I need to do is log in on my laptop, and then I follow David’s instructions. He’s excellent, he’s very good at keeping you going, but tells you to stop if you want to.

“I look forward to the classes on the day, and then I have got some other exercises that I was given beforehand, just gentle ones, which I do on the days when I’m not doing the zoom class.

“It’s important to me to keep myself active, as my left knee is now very bad, so the exercises do help,” she adds.

Jacquie, who was referred to St Christopher’s after being diagnosed with cancer, has also enjoyed the social aspects of exercising. “It’s strange”, she tells us. “I met someone that I know in real life, as it were, at David’s online class!

“David just happened to speak to him, and I hadn’t realised Peter was there until then. We’d taught together ages ago and I’d kept in touch with him and his wife, exchanging Christmas cards. So I rang his wife up and had a chat. It was lovely.”

What a small world.

17 June 2020


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