Retirement developer hires former national sports stars to help residents

Bishopstoke Park external shot 1

With recent research from Anchor, England’s largest provider of housing for the over 55s, showing that retaining independence is one of the most significant factors in finding happiness when downsizing, Anchor has recruited former national sports competitors to deliver personal training to residents.

The Mount, the health and wellness centre at Bishopstoke Park retirement village in Eastleigh, Hampshire, is staffed by a team of expert fitness trainers, including Elizabeth Kelly, who represented GB in gymnastics in her teens and former gymnast Ana Bauer, who has previously competed for her home country of Romania. Ana, Elizabeth and the centre’s other two trainers, Josh and Madeleine, lead both residents and locals who have joined The Mount in a weekly programme of exercise classes and personal training sessions. The timetable, which includes chair based exercise classes, Mobilise and Move, Pilates and Aqua Fit is designed to help residents strengthen muscles involved in everyday movements, allowing participants to both continue to carry out daily chores and to recover more quickly should they experience a trip or fall.

Elizabeth Kelly, 42, trained as a personal trainer following her gymnastics career as a teenager and now leads the chair based classes and Mobility and Move sessions at Bishopstoke Park. Elizabeth comments:

‘My role at The Mount offers a different challenge to being a personal trainer at a fitness centre open to all ages, where the main goal tends to be weight loss. There is a misconception that fitness necessarily deteriorates in one’s eighties; I have seen huge improvements in many of my clients’ basic fitness, with all of our exercises tailored to the mobility range and requirements of older people. Without regular training, movements such as lifting arms to take something off a shelf or picking oneself up from the floor after a fall can quickly be lost. As a former gymnast, I encourage my clients to think about their centre of gravity when moving around the village, to help them avoid trips.’

Ana Bauer, 61, competed in gymnastics in Romania in her youth and subsequently went on to train in soft ball at the same school as world tennis champion, Ilie Năstase. Ana now brings the standards of excellence she developed as a sporting professional to Pilates classes at Bishopstoke Park. Ana comments:

‘My training in rehabilitation and working with those with restricted mobility has helped me to develop an understanding of how to structure my lessons for older people. I also offer reflexology within the spa, which has proved popular with both residents and locals alike.’

The Mount is situated within a sensitively restored 19th century building, a unique centrepiece that houses a luxurious swimming pool, spa and the state-of-the-art wellness centre. In addition to The Mount, Bishopstoke Park also benefits from a contemporary juice bar, delicatessen, general store, craft room and The Redwood Bistro, the UK’s first restaurant within a retirement village to be awarded an AA Rosette, with the spa and the dining establishments also open to the public.

Bishopstoke Park comprises 91 one- and two-bedroom independent living apartments and an on-site 48 room care home. The village is undergoing a second phase of development, adding a further 73 one- and two- bedroom apartments to the village.

Jane Ashcroft, CEO at Anchor, comments:

‘We pride ourselves on carefully selecting Wellness Centre staff with outstanding fitness experience. We understand how important maintaining fitness is in retaining independence in older age and the overarching effect that this has on wellbeing and happiness.’