Halo Leisure and Bridgend County Borough Council are exemplary organisations who champion a multi-generational approach to both their workforce and exercise classes. They picked up a national accreditation award last year, which included praise for their community outreach and leisure centres, like the one in Ogmore, which offers exercise classes and activities to all generations.
Leading one of their popular exercise groups is fitness instructor Geoff Cheetham, 66, who delivers Tai Chi classes and has just been chosen to support the group’s staff training programme.
At 61 Geoff retired from a career in housing and was teaching Tai Chi in his local community. Then, during a break to recover from a hip replacement, he decided to sign up for gym instructor training.
“I was double the age of everyone doing the Level 2 Gym Instructor course, but just as passionate,” he says.
“I have always been active, going to the gym, running half marathons and cycling as I know the difference exercise can make. Now I’m running sessions for more than 50 people, most of them over 50.
“I think Halo’s out-of-the box thinking about age – employing me later in life and being so inclusive in their approach to older customers who come into the centres – has brought rewards, both for the organisation and for the communities where it’s based. The age mix in the centres is great and growing and the health savings for the public purse must be substantial.”
Scott Rolfe, Halo’s CEO, agrees. “We run leisure centres across Bridgend County and programmes that reach out to everyone in the community, young and old, families, sports clubs and athletes in training for competition.
“Our success is down to people like Geoff who not only bring life experience to our staff cohort but also get behind what we are trying to do in a way that is infectious.
“There is a confidence and experience you get from the world of work that’s hard to quantify but is so important in a customer-facing role,” says Geoff. “I think Halo recognises that. I’m proud to be part of the team, and an ambassador for fitness over 50.
“We’re seeing more older men join the classes and are willing to give it a go perhaps because they see someone like them bouncing around at the front and realise they can do it too!”