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We recently caught up with Rhonda Collins, the Bio Mechanics Corrective Exercise Specialist running the fitness classes for residents at Newport Retirement Living.

Rhonda has been in the fitness industry for over 32 years and is passionate about helping people with persisting pain conditions through corrective exercise and enjoys educating on the importance of wellbeing and fitness in retirement. She started her classes at Newport after a resident who had been going to see her 8 years moved to the community and recommended her to our village team. 

Rhonda previously worked as an educator at TAFE teaching exercise for older adults and now, outside of her time at Newport, also teaches aerobics, trains clients one-on-one, diagnoses postural issues that contribute to chronic pain and provides myofascial release (massage) of tight muscles contributing to muscular imbalances.


What sort of fitness classes do you offer at Newport Retirement Living?
At the communities Clubhouse I classes that cover a range of physical and health needs for our residents. My classes are low impact, incorporating heart fitness, strength, balance and flexibility.  I also teach aqua in the warmer months. The type of class I teach is all about fun, because if it’s not fun you don’t do it!

Can you tell us about a resident who really benefited from your class?
One resident, ‘Mr G’ had a glorious history of running marathons and riding his bike and even has a Guinness book record to his fame. However a debilitating health condition left him with little to no balance.  Mr G came to class and participated, but would often get off balance and fall or bump into chairs and tables around the room and used his walking stick or a chair to stay upright. His determination constantly surprised me and he continued to come to classes and after about 6 weeks of doing low impact exercise, he ceased to use his stick as his balance improved! He still has good and bad days but to me he is inspirational and a constant reminder that you can achieve your goals at any age.  

What are some of the physical benefits of exercising in retirement?
The less we move the less we want to move and our bodies adapt very nicely to inactivity, and often we accept too readily that decline in our abilities is because of our age.  Exercising releases feel good substances that improve our mood, oil up those tired joints, increase our metabolism and improve our strength and balance.  It improves our co-ordination and our overall feeling of wellness.  

What about non- physical benefits to exercising?
It’s important not to overlook the psycho-social benefits of regular activity. As we age we often forget to have fun.  

Exercising to music excites good memories and it is motivating to meet up with like-minded people, who are together taking their health into their own hands, achieving goals and gaining confidence. 

What do you find most rewarding about the work you do?
Older participants teach me something new every day.  They are some of the most funny, accomplished and caring people that I have the good fortune of working with.  Small movements that we take for granted can make a huge difference in someone’s life, and I love being able to contribute to that.  

What advice would you give to seniors exercising at home?
Music is a great motivator, listen to music that gets you going.  Make it fun and before you know it 5 minutes of exercise will be 10 minutes. 

Anything can be a workout:  get your canned soup out of the pantry to tone up your arms, get out of a chair without using your arms, grab an exercise band, sit in a chair and stretch.  Start with small achievable goals, such as improving your balance and range of movement.  

When you have improved, tell the world because for every one person who takes up the challenge there are 20 not doing anything to help themselves.