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