FOR an hour a week, John and Sylvia Bridge’s front room is transformed into a mini gym.

A portable work-out bench is set up on the carpet and stretch bands and hand weights scatter the floor.

John, 76, and Sylvia, 78, of Badger Hill, York, are being put through their paces by Tom Storr, a young personal trainer who has set up a new business, Feel Young Fitness, aimed at the over-60s.

Tom said: “My aim is to get people active and living a healthier life while enjoying fitness.”

After initial assessments, Tom has prepared work-out plans for John and Sylvia. He has printed out the exercises on an easy-to-follow A4 sheet, which has images showing the correct moves, as well as how many repetitions and sets to do for each one.

John wants to focus on his upper body, so there are lots of exercises involving lifting hand weights, including raising them high above his head as well as out in front. “That is really hard,” says John as he illustrates the move, wincing as he struggles to hold the weights at arms’ length.

There are bicep curls and tricep dips too as well as lateral raises and bench presses, where he lies on the gym bench, feet on the floor, and pushes the weights up directly above his shoulders.

For Sylvia, the focus is on her lower body, with the aim of improving her mobility. She had her left knee joint replaced two years ago and has suffered for years from a bad back, all of which have impacted on her movement.

She has to limit her arm exercises because in 2009 she was treated for breast cancer and had the lymph nodes removed from her right limb. This, she says, means she has to be doubly careful not to injure that arm and so curtails what upper body exercises she does.

Her programme includes chair squats, lying leg raises and another floor exercise involving moving her legs back and forth like a piston using resistance bands.

She tries to do the programme a few times a day. John, who still works full time, manages his once or twice a week, although he still plays squash regularly to keep fit.

In fact, both of them were active in their younger years, playing in the squash and tennis teams at the Railway Institute.

Sylvia ran a shirt-making business, Bridge of York, in Fulford. Years spent doubled over a cutting table played havoc with her back and eventually left her with mobility problems. At one point, she struggled to get out of a chair. Today, she does it with ease – and correctly; leaning forward and then pushing up through her legs to standing. John said: “That’s the best I’ve seen her getting out of a chair in eight or nine years.”

Sylvia says another boost to her better health has been losing weight: she lost a stone and a half this year through Slimming World.

Sylvia says she can feel the strength returning to her legs through the exercises.

“As you get older, your muscles deteriorate. These exercises are really good for building strength in the legs.” She can now walk to the local shops, something she struggled with before.

York Press:

FEEL THE BURN: John working out at home with personal trainer Tom

John is hoping that the fitness regime will enable them to get more out of life. He said: “When we’ve been on holiday for the past ten years, we’ve not been able to share things because of her inability to walk very far. There has been no point going away for the weekend if we’ve not been able to walk very far. But now Sylvia can walk around the estate, so we should be able to do that.”

Sylvia agrees. “My back feels better, my knee feels better, I am walking better. I have got into the habit of doing my exercises, it’s not a chore. And it is good to know that I am doing the exercises right because you can do the wrong thing.”

This is where Tom’s personal service comes in. A Level Three-qualified personal trainer who is also studying how to develop exercises for older, independent adults, Tom set up his business Feel Young Fitness to specifically cater for the over-60s.

Tom says the earlier people start to get fit, the more impact it will have on their lives.

He said Government guidelines suggest we do cardio-vascular activities, such as brisk walking, three to five times a week, as well as two or three sessions of resistance and mobility work. “Getting it to become part of your lifestyle is the best way.”

Best advice is to start slowly and build it up, says Tom. “You have got to be careful. Check with your doctor first if you are worried about anything.”

Tom travels to his clients’ homes. “Older people seem to like that as they can be intimidated by a big gym.”

His hourly rate is £35, and he offers a range of packages and training plans too. He can also offer nutritional advice.

John says it’s been money well spent. “We knew we could both do with doing more exercise and getting more mobile for our leisure time together.

“It would be lovely to go to Portugal in March. We would be happy to walk through the village and have a nice drink.”

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