When grant money for the Together In Movement and Exercise (TIME) program ran out, Meghan MacIsaac, Recreation Facility and Program Director for the Revelstoke Community Center, jumped into action.
The Revelstoke Community Centre had been offering TIME, a fitness program geared towards those with mobility and balance issues, for the last three years.
“The program was created by physiotherapists in Toronto,” explains MacIsaac. “A few years ago we received a grant through Jill Zacharias, Social Development Coordinator with the City of
Revelstoke, to run the program. We purchased the license for it and trained three local instructors in the community to teach this program.”
“The nature of the program is, generally speaking, geared to seniors who have had a fall or a break or other mobility or balance issues,” she says, ”though someone younger who has suffered a stroke or other major issue might be eligible.”
MacIsaac learned that seniors who struggled with mobility or balance issues were more inclined to suffer from seclusion and a faster rate of physical deterioration. Add Revelstoke winters to the mix, and it becomes the perfect storm of isolation, depression, and physical issues. TIME, MacIsaac knew, was something Revelstoke needed.
“The program has two components that make it so successful,” says MacIsaac. “The first is the fitness; helping seniors regain strength and balance by doing basic exercises, which gives seniors more confidence and independence. The second component is the social aspect. Participants come to a group with other people. They can go to the pool while they are here, or head into the Seniors’ Center.”
“The goal is to keep seniors independent and in their homes longer,” she says. “Some participants do have declining health, but it is still important to keep moving.”
The classes offer a ratio of 1:4 instructors to participants and are offered one or two times a week. They are not rehabilitation classes, and there are eligibility criteria those wanting to partake must meet. These include being able to walk unassisted for a specific distance. The classes are run concurrently throughout the winter.
The classes work on essential mobility and balance and include strategies for learning how to get up after a fall, working with small weights, and practising balance at a barre. MacIsaac notes the classes have been hugely helpful to their participants.
When class registration opens, those with referrals from physiotherapists at Interior Health are entered, followed by those who self-refer.
With no grant money left to fund the classes and demand continually increasing, MacIsaac was thrilled when three local organizations got on board to ensure the program would continue to be offered.
“The Hospital Auxiliary Society, the Revelstoke Health Foundation and the Columbia Basin Trust have stepped up and are funding the entire program from here on out,” says MacIsaac.
With local partners who see the value of the program, MacIsaac will be expanding the TIME program in the fall of 2019.
“Because the program is so specific, we wanted to create a graduated program to cater to all levels,” explains MacIsaac. “It’s important that those just entering the program don’t feel like they can’t keep up, and it’s equally important to keep those who have improved motivated.”
What’s more – MacIsaac is determined to ensure the price is not a barrier.
“There will be a nominal $3 a class fee, and this helps keep people committed, as we have so many people waitlisted,” explain MacIsaac.
For Neil Jones of Transcanada Fitness and an instructor in the program, it’s rewarding to see something he has long pushed for come to fruition.
“It’s absolutely a worthwhile program,” he says. “All of us who exercise regularly feel the benefits for the whole body, mind and spirit. You hear people say it after a few minutes of exercising – I feel so much better.”
For Jones, helping people connect their brains and bodies and make healthy progress, is hugely important.
It is clearly the right move. Revelstoke’s iteration of the program has been so successful, MacIsaac has fielded calls from much larger centers, including Toronto.
Older seniors who aren’t eligible for the program can still enjoy the social and physical benefits of the pool or fitness room. MacIsaac says that every senior 80 years or older qualifies for a free annual pass.
As for TIME, it’s wrapping up for spring with its participants armed with the confidence and strength to keep from being isolated indoors. And thanks to MacIsaac, the Hospital Auxiliary Society, the Community Health Foundation and the Columbia Basin Trust, TIME will be back bigger and better than ever this fall.