A former fitness instructor, who runs movement exercise classes for fellow residents at a care home, says he is using the boost he gets from it to achieve his own goal of walking again.
Ken, who leads the popular ‘Star Moves with Ken’ class at Royal Star & Garter in Surbiton, says the sessions are inspiring him to walk for the first time since December 2020.
The 87-year-old made a major breakthrough in realising his dream in February, when he stood for the first time in 14 months, during a session in the Home’s in-house physiotherapy room.
Royal Star & Garter is a charity which provides loving, compassionate care to veterans and their partners living with disability or dementia, and also has Homes in Solihull and High Wycombe.
Ken served in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps from 1952-54 for his National Service and came to Royal Star & Garter in September 2021. He began running his own classes a short while later with the support of the in-house Physiotherapist Nirali Dave. His class involves simple sit-down exercises aimed at improving mobility and boosting mental and physical wellbeing. In his working life, Ken was a qualified YMCA weight trainer and taught low-impact aerobics for the over 60s. All ‘Star Moves with Ken’ exercises are adapted from these, and approved by the Home’s Physiotherapist.
The classes are 25 minutes long, supported by a member of staff, and take place six days a week. It now attracts around 10 people a session and staff recently had to relocate the activity to a different part of the Home due to its increasing popularity.
Discussing the impact the classes have on him, Ken said: “As I’ve always been a relatively fit and healthy person, it came as a bit of a shock when I was taken ill and my legs gave way in 2020. So it means a hell of a lot to me that I can do these classes, and that people trust me and are willing to come to training every day – it’s a huge compliment. The classes keep me going and give me the hope I will achieve my goal to walk again. I do a lot of work with the in-house Physiotherapist at Royal Star & Garter and I’ve started to get back on my own two feet, which I’m delighted about.”
He said his class has more than a physical impact on residents: “It brings people together as a group. It’s a social thing and a boost for physical and mental wellbeing. We motivate each other. It doesn’t matter if they can’t do everything – I tell them to only do what feels comfortable.”
Physiotherapist Nirali said: “Ken is doing a great job. All the exercises are general body warm-up exercises which reduce stiffness and promote circulation. I think it’s a really good idea to do chair-based exercises, and it’s very popular with residents.”
Sarah Nunn is one of the Wellness Coordinators who helps arrange the ‘Star Moves with Ken’ classes. She said: “Exercise has always been a big part of Ken’s life. So being able to do these classes now, while in a wheelchair, is really important to his wellbeing. He’s really good at it. He loves it and the residents love it.”
The Surbiton Home is welcoming new residents. For more information on this, or working for Royal Star & Garter, please go to www.starandgarter.org/surbiton