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Health and Wellness

Never too late to start exercising

By November 15, 2011July 16th, 202010 Comments

Marching, tapping and swinging their arms.  Working towards a cardiovascular high and then down to a normal heart rate.  Iona Henning, Chairperson and National Trainer of the SA Seniors Fitness Association (SASFA) is  leading her troupe of seniors in a sequence of movements to “YMCA”, Beatles oldies and the old favourites like “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue”.  The crowd of onlookers loved it, and cheered and whooped along with these mature ladies in red and white who were obviously thoroughly enjoying what they were doing.

This was my introduction to SASFA, whose mission is to bring an experience of wellbeing and friendship to every South African senior, by presenting exercise and recreational programmes in a relaxed environment.  The seniors fitness exercise programme comprises flexibility, balance, poise, co-ordination, stamina, muscle strengthening and cardiovascular exercise.  These exercises are set to enjoyable and stimulating music.  And all senior instructors are fully trained and hold a National Certificate.

Iona has been involved in SASFA since its inception.  She believes that physical exercise plays an important part in maintaining the health of the body and is just as important as social wellbeing.  In her exercise classes, she sees members who are able to release tensions, stresses and anxieties purely through participating in this exercise regime.

Iona is also a great believer in laughter.  “As we get older, we need to laugh at ourselves – it’s a good coping mechanism for “getting older”.  Exercising with SASFA is good fun and brings with it much laughter which does one as much good as the exercises.  As an instructor, I often look at the faces of my ladies when they are exercising, and because they are concentrating so hard and look so serious, I just have to make them laugh.  Remember we women can multitask i.e. exercise and laugh at the same time”.

SASFA who turned 21 this year, has fitness trainers in 10 South African regions.  Exercise classes are held all over the country, mostly in retirement villages.  The monthly fee is extremely modest, but the benefit of attending these classes is huge.  Exercise substantially lowers the risk of developing many chronic diseases,  helps prevent osteoporosis, is a great mood enhancer and keeps seniors’ minds occupied and off their problems.  To be a healthy, fit senior improves your quality of life, and your budget.

Jill Schmidt from KZN wrote this in a recent SASFA newsletter – “Here I am jumping on a trampoline.  Having been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, I underwent major surgery and extensive chemotherapy. In 2006, I was introduced to SASFA and now, 5 years post-chemo, I can only express my thanks to the Association for their dedication to the importance of exercise. I look forward to many more enjoyable routines”.

SASFA are looking for more fitness trainers.  If this is something that interests you, or if you would like to take part in one of their exercise programmes, please contact one of the following:

Iona Henning – tel: 010 222 0070
Helga Calitz – 011 792 9245
Dot Tyldesley – 083 285 7980



  • Jilly says:

    Sounds far more fun than tramping around the same field numerous times three times a week!

  • Avril Galp says:

    I cannot find any reference to these fitness classes as regards place, times and cost in C T southern suburbs


  • Marilynh says:

    Response from Iona Henning, National Trainer, SASFA

    I wish we had a class or two available in every suburb, of every town and province. There are millions of seniors throughout South Africa, but only close on 200 SASFA instructors, which include co-instructors. In many areas, towns and cities, we just do not have any instructors … then there are areas where we have six or more in close proximity! So it is extremely frustrating when dear folk phone me, say from towns like Britz maybe, Ladysmith in the Cape, Graaf-Reinet, Upington, or anywhere else, and cannot understand why we do not have a class on their doorstep! This has always proved difficult … we need more instructors! It is not easy finding them … we are constantly looking for potential instructors who wish to give an hour or two of their time each week … willing to train, committing to teaching the seniors on a regular basis, prepared to be there for them, encourage and motivate them!

    Our existing teachers constantly express their delight in having joined SASFA, the love of working with their group of seniors, and only wish they had found us years ago, because it is such fun and rewarding in so many ways.

    We have of late received many interested potential instructor enquiries, so perhaps in the not too distant future, we might manage to cover more areas in and around all the provinces. Anyone interested can go onto our webpage, read more about us, and contact us should they wish to find out more about SASFA in their area. Our website can be found on

  • Lorna says:

    Hi. Are there any classes in Table view or Sunningdale areas (Cape Town).

    • Marilynh says:

      Dear Lorna

      We would like to suggest that you contact one of the ladies as mentioned above who will be able to assist you with your query. Alternatively, take a look at their website to see if the information you require is there.

      Kind regard
      Marilyn, YEI Editor

  • sheila says:

    Are there any exercise classes in Sandton near Lonehill?

    • Marilynh says:

      Dear Sheila

      Please contact Iona Heming whose phone number is above. Iona will be able to respond to your query.

      Kind regards
      Marilyn, YEI Editor

  • Liz Young says:

    Hello… please can you let me know what date and time the classes start in 2020… Thanks very much

    • Marilynh says:

      Dear Liz

      Your query will be sent on to Silver Fit for their direct response.

      Warm regards, YEI

    • Zothile says:

      Hello Liz,

      Thank you for reaching out.

      Most of our classes have reopened today. Which area are you interested in? I will send you information shortly 🙂

      Have a lovely day further and talk again soon.

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