“I find I have many students in my fitness classes that are held in the morning,” says Anna Townsend, an instructor with GoodLife Fitness in Halifax. “They’re retired and they have the time to come. Many come for the friendship, so they stick with this group and time for years. They develop these relationships and, if someone doesn’t come, they’re concerned and wondering where they are.”

If seniors are worried that they can’t keep up with the young’uns, or have never before taken a class at a gym, Townsend recommends starting off by working one on one with a personal trainer. Then, when the person feels more comfortable, they can get involved in a class. Participants can also throw out the idea that they’ll be the slowpoke in the room; everyone participates to the best of their ability and instructors work with individuals to ensure that happens.

“Some of my classes focus on things that you do every day and it helps a person become more effective bending, pushing and pulling things in real life,” she says.

One of Townsend’s students in her Body Pump class is her mother, Mary Lee. Lee is a regular at GoodLife, often attending between three and four classes per week along with being an active runner. In addition, her daughter says that, in her mother’s seventh decade, she still plays soccer.

The classes she takes are a combination of women only and mixed, and she finds the social aspect is extremely important.

“Once you get in the routine, it’s easy to stay motivated,” she says. “It really doesn’t take much.”

Since Townsend started teaching classes with a number of senior-aged members, her perception of age has totally changed and she marvels at the physical fitness of one woman in her classes who, despite being in her early 80s, is a prime example of physical fitness.

“I have people who are in their late 70s and 80s who book their classes into their schedules and come every week,” she says. “For people who find themselves living alone at that stage of life, it becomes a major reason to get out of the house and interact with people.”

“You really feel better when you’re physically fit,” Lee says. “And, if you find yourself having health issues, if you are fit, you find that you recover more quickly. The first step to going to a gym is the hardest step but you’ll find that the destination is worth it.”