The fitness instructors who are helping care home residents to be 'healthier and fitter' through exercise

Established in 2008, Gfitness is a UK wide company which provides professional exercise classes to enhance the immune system, improve mobility and maintain independence, help prevent falls and injury through strength and balance training and increase mental wellbeing. 

Managing director of Gfitness, Simon Grodentz told “Exercise is incredibly important. You only get one body to take care of. The healthier and fitter you are, the better your overall circumstances will be with fighting the viruses." 

''Because of the pandemic, we include work on cardiovascular capacity and the immune system''

Today, the company has over 1,800 care homes that regularly book sessions and despite the pandemic, the company has kept the care home residents fit and healthy by ensuring they have an instructor around to help keep care home residents fit and healthy.

In March 2021, when the larger scale restrictions were gradually relaxing, the fitness instructors started reinstating the broader services, making themselves available to the care homes. 

“Because of the impact of the pandemic, we include work on cardiovascular capacity and the immune system, both of which will improve one’s ability to help fight off [viruses]."

“In some cases, we may help you start walking more and help people achieve more independence. We can manage health conditions which can be directly or indirectly related to physical activity. "

“It is about exercise for everyone, and everyone will benefit from some form of stimulus. We provide an enjoyable experience of exercise, putting a smile on people’s faces and helping them to feel the best they can. Keep fit, look after your body." 

Mr Grodentz began his professional career in fitness as a personal trainer, but, after talking with friends who worked with adults in the care sector, he turned his focus towards helping older people stay well and happy within the care home setting. 

“They asked if I would come and do something for the residents and it all started from there."

“The residents responded really well, and I really enjoyed it and other sites contacted me asking me to support them too."

“The uptake has been vast and incredibly quick. The feedback is so positive, and most care homes want us back. Some of those care homes I went into over 10 years ago, still use the company every week today.” 

'A lot of falls can be managed or prevented with exercise'

According to the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists, one in three adults over the age of 65 will have a fall this year and the risk of falls increases as we age with half of all people over 80 will fall at least once a year.

To help stop these long-term health complications, the company also teaches a falls awareness training programme to care home staff. This includes tips and practical advice with exercises for care home residents to improve balance, strength and resistance to injuries caused by falls. 

“The definition of a fall would be an event where someone unintentionally ends up on the floor. In care settings, that could include things such as rolling from the bed,” says Mr Grodentz. “In some cases, mats need to be placed on the side of the bed to cushion falls.

“Serious falls can occur from a standing position. In this instance, it will usually be due to something physiological. A lot of these falls can be managed or prevented with exercise. The environment of a care home can be a busy place and preventing falls is complex, increasing the awareness of falls risks within a home can be achieved with training and assessment.” 

'Most people just want to smile, have a laugh and have fun'

Research from the NHS website also states people who exercise regularly have a lower risk of developing many long-term chronic conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and some cancers. Exercise can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy. 

From armchair exercise to Yoga and Tai Chi, the fitness instructors are fully trained to support the residents with the exercises they want to try. 

“If they are having a good day and have a lot of energy, let’s do movement to music and strength work. If they are having a tiring day, maybe they want some games to cheer themselves up or yoga and Tai Chi. 

“Exercise should be proportioned to the individual’s capacity. Someone who spends most of their time in a chair will have a lower level of cardiovascular capacity than someone who spends more time on their feet, therefore proportional chair-based exercise will be suitably stimulating for somebody who is less active. 

“Most people just want to smile, have a laugh and have fun. We try and make sure the sessions are fun. It doesn’t have to be about the exercise. Sometimes it’s about interacting, and we might do some games and something relaxing. We give them plenty of variety with things we know they will enjoy.”