Friday, 13 September 2013

Excited about exercise

Residents of Kingsport used to find it difficult to get in a good workout close to home — and driving to gyms in town wasn’t always an option. “We’re quite isolated in the winter months because of the challenging roads,” says Melanie Amos. “I work in Kentville, so I don’t want to come home, have supper, and then turn around and go back to Kentville to work out.”
Back in 2008, a small group of residents arranged for a local instructor, Carol French, to begin teaching a weekly fitness class right in Kingsport. “Sometimes we didn’t have enough money to pay her, but she continued to come without complaint, and eventually we built up quite an active group.”
In 2011, the group became associated as the Kingsport Fitness and Wellness Society, and they began applying for grants and raising money for equipment. They were awarded a $10,000 Positive Aging grant from the Department of Seniors, which allowed them to purchase equipment for circuit training. Up until this point, the group had been mostly women, but the circuit equipment attracted more men to exercise.
“The circuit keeps your interest and each person works at their own pace,” says member Margaret Wallace. “When I’m finished the routine, I feel really good.”
Today, the Kingsport Fitness and Wellness Society has grown to include more than 100 regular attendees and offers six different programs throughout the year. They continue to rent space in the Lloyd Community Centre, but they’ve outfitted it with their own brand-new gym equipment. They’ve also trained all of their own instructors. Christine Heap leads stretch and cardio classes three mornings a week. Irene Burrell runs a one-hour circuit training class, and also conducts an AquaFit class in her own backyard pool.
Niamh Webster is offering a Muscle Memory and Movement class this September. Amos took a yoga instructor course and began teaching yoga classes — even holding them in the beautiful garden of her home during the summer months.
“I’d like to also schedule in a new yoga class geared toward seniors, because it’s a great way to connect the breath with movement, and loosen up the joints and muscles,” says Amos, who serves on the society’s executive.
Their oldest members are in their eighties, but they also have members in their twenties. Most of the classes only cost several dollars to attend, because Amos says it’s important for them to keep it affordable. “It’s brought people together that normally may not have met, and we’re always looking for new members,” she says. “We just want to introduce new people to the exciting journey of becoming more fit and healthy — and the nice thing about our classes is that you’re in and out in an hour, and home for dinner!”
For long-time member Jerry Anderson, exercising with the Kingsport Fitness and Wellness Society has meant more to her than she can express.
“I’m the only caregiver for my very ill husband, and the classes allow me to keep fit and begin my day with a shot of adrenalin and some social contact without being very far from home,” says Anderson. “The classes are my lifeline.”
For more information on the Kingsport Fitness and Wellness Society, please call Melanie Amos at (902) 582-7700 or Christine Heap at (902) 582-1624 or visit

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