New Thatcham exercise class sits down to get active

Originally published in Newbury Today by  Hinna Aamani

A new seated chair exercise class has begun in Thatcham.

MOVEability, which offers exercise sessions for those with limited mobility, disabilities and chronic conditions, launched its new class on June 30 (Thursday).

The local social enterprise organisation recently received £500 from Waitrose in Thatcham – through the Waitrose & Partners’ ‘Give a Little Love Campaign’ – which it says it relies on to keep classes affordable and accessible.

Deputy mayor Mark Lillycrop, MOVEability's Debbie Medlin and Julie Bolter at the launch of the new class
Deputy mayor Mark Lillycrop, MOVEability’s Debbie Medlin and Julie Bolter at the launch of the new class

There were smiles all round as owner and founder Debbie Medlin and colleague Julie Bolter led the class, with participants staying afterwards for a “chat and a cuppa”

Ms Medlin said: “It was a fantastic launch with a packed room of participants ranging from the ages of eleven to ninety, with mixed levels of mobility.

“It was so rewarding to see new friendships forming at the very first class.”

Ms Medlin said that she and her “fabulous team” were “more than just instructors”.

“For many we are a lifeline, giving those who are housebound or medically vulnerable a sense of belonging through our online classes, helping to combat loneliness and improving mental as well as physical health,” she commented.

The deputy mayor and mayoress of Thatcham, Mark and Jenny Lillycrop were also in attendance.

Mr Lillycrop called the class “good fun” and stressed the importance of engaging with different parts of the community to get them involved in what is both an “exercise and social” group.

He commented on recent population figures reported in Newbury Today, which showed a growing elderly population in West Berkshire, and he noted that a lot of those people may be “quite isolated”.

He said: “It is a big opportunity for some people. Classes like MOVEability are not just about exercise but about bringing people together. You can meet up and you have that social focus.

“It’s a very nice atmosphere, it is welcoming and friendly. I would say go along and give it a go, if it is not for you at least you have tried it.”

One participant, who attended with her 89-year-old mother said: “I was only going to accompany mum, but we both had a lot of fun. Mum absolutely loved it.

“I believe what [MOVEability] is doing for the community comes from the heart and that truly shines through.”

MOVEability, which works with charities, social prescribers, care home, health organisations and individuals, runs a programme of classes, both on-site and online, via live Zoom link.