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Seniors-only workout class in Sherwood Park gives mental and physical boost

The Little Sweat Shop invites seniors to workout together
WATCH: If you need some inspiration for your own fitness goals, this story should do the trick. Morgan Black took a trip to Sherwood Park to visit seniors who prove you can be an athlete at any age.

Uwe Johannsen suffered a broken hip a year-and-a-half ago, but his frequent visits to a seniors-only workout group in Sherwood Park have helped accelerate his recovery.

“When I first came to [The Little Sweat Shop], I came in with a cane,” Johannsen said. “I haven’t used a cane in six months!”

Three times a week, about 30 seniors get moving.

“We have them flipping tires, learning to carry kettle bells properly so they can pick up their groceries and not get hurt,” explained owner Shelley Montemurro.

“I hear them tell me: ‘Shelley, my husband needed help moving this couch and he wanted to call over the neighbour… but I knew [I could lift it] myself!'”

At 86 years old, Joan Giddy is the oldest member of the group.

READ MORE: Haven’t exercised in decades? Here’s how to get active as a senior

“It’s sort of given me some life back. I live alone and I don’t really like being alone. I love it here,” Giddy said. “It’s just so lovely here.”

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After the one-hour workout in Sherwood Park, many members stay for coffee and a chat.

“More than anything, it’s a social outing for them. It’s amazing to see how connected they’ve become,” Montemurro said. “They get to know each other and build community.”

The seniors said the group feels more like an extended family than a workout class.

“Everybody here is a friend.

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“I don’t know all the names yet, but that doesn’t matter,” Johannsen said. “At home, I’m sitting around all the time. I’m not a couch potato. I like being involved with people and this is a good way.”

READ MORE: If you stop exercising, here’s how quickly you’ll lose strength

Montemurro first started the program because she wanted a space where her parents could get active and feel comfortable.

“The program is specific to moving healthy. Learning how to do self-care. We know that strength is such a big part of longevity.”

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READ MORE: VirtualGym would offer Alberta seniors access to customized in-home exercises

The seniors agree they are getting a great workout both mentally and physically and are now encouraging their friends to do the same.

“Everybody says, ‘Oh, that’s too much trouble!’ but if you don’t use it, you lose it,” Johannsen said. “Three times a week is a lot, but I feel great. Shelley wants me to come four times a week, so we’ll see.”

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