Renaissance’s commitment to lifelong fitness and well-being began in September 2012 as the brainchild of Helen, a now retired Consultant Physiotherapist in the NHS with a vision to address the challenges faced by people with hip/knee problems or other mobility limiting conditions in trying to maintain their health through active lifestyles.
Her knowledge of the increased risk of falls and tendency to lose independence in people over 60 drove her to explore available facilities; to enable these people to reduce the burden of losing mobility or regain already lost mobility. It is well known that the normal ageing process and mobility limiting diseases can benefit from regular exercise. Unfortunately, there was a gap in the market to accommodate this group of the population. These people usually feel intimidated or threatened by mainstream gyms which are generally used by young and fit members of the community.
Her vision and passion to enable everyone (regardless of age or physical ability) to experience the health benefits of exercise was born when she discovered the state-of-the-art motor assisted exercise machines called Motortone, which can mobilise joints and offer tailored resistance to tone and strengthen muscles.
The ultimate goal was to incorporate functional exercises and falls prevention programs to reduce the heavy burden on NHS and Social services resulting from injury and loss of mobility. This vision was realised when a location became available in Dover Street and the Gentle Gym was born.
Partnership with Active Life from 2013 to 2017 – ended when Active Life was acquired by Fusion. The Gentle Gym is indebted to Active Life; especially Neil and Carol and Helen’s voluntary mentor, the late Jonathan Marsh.
Some members of the Gentle Gym joined Helen as stakeholders that carry no liability but support all functions of the Gentle Gym. The stakeholders are instrumental in promoting the Gentle Gym, setting standards and interviewing all members of staff. They lead open days and attend regularly monthly meetings to review our services.
Parkinson’s Group: The Gentle Gym has a service level agreement with the Canterbury branch of Parkinson’s UK to run group gym sessions for people living with Parkinson’s disease and their carers. This has been running on Friday afternoons since 2013.
Recognition of Service:
Renaissance Wellbeing Centre/Gentle Gym provides services which have been recognised by funders and have therefore over the years received the following grants –
- Kent Country Council and Kent Sports in 2017 granted the Gentle Gym in partnership in ethnic minority independent council (EMIC) Canterbury to increase physical activity in ethnic minorities
- Strategic Fund from Canterbury City Council in 2019 to run Falls prevention program code named “A Matter of Balance”
- Wellbeing Fund from Kent County Council to run a 3 months program “Connect for Wellness” to combat loneliness resulting from COVID in vulnerable people
- Tackling Health Inequalities funding from Kent Sport, Kent County Council and Sports England in January 2022 to improve physical wellbeing and reduce risk of mobility loss in people with long-term or mobility limiting conditions
Gentle Gym members have participated in sponsored activities to raise funds for Sports Relief in 2015. They have also participated in a 5 mile Race for Life fundraiser in 2016 and raised money for East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust Breast Cancer Fund 2019.
We are incredibly proud of our members’ efforts which goes to show the community spirit of this community-led gym. We look forward to contributing to these and other good causes in the future.