Features

Keeping older people active

Mark Huggard has been running fitness classes for Age UK Enfield for nearly two decades

Mark Huggard has been running fitness classes for Age UK Enfield for nearly two decades
Mark Huggard has been running fitness classes for Age UK Enfield for nearly two decades

Mark Huggard has been working to keep Enfield’s older people fit and healthy since 2003.

Mark was born and raised in Enfield and runs Age UK Enfield’s ‘Fit for Life’ project, with classes ranging from gentle exercise for people who are quite frail, to really long and challenging walks, cycling classes, zumba gold and line dancing. According to colleagues, he approaches each class “with the same level of dedication, energy and fun”.

During the pandemic lockdown, Mark was forced to move these classes online, where he created video tutorials, but he also provided printed exercise packs which he delivered to people’s homes. This meant that people who are digitally excluded – who cannot access online videos or Zoom – were still able to exercise by following a step-by-step illustrated guide.

Clare O’Driscoll, who nominated Mark as an ‘Enfield Community Hero’, said: “Mark really makes people feel welcome and knows all his participants, which is incredible given how many different people attend the various classes and walks, and demonstrates the level of his commitment and positive attitude.

“Mark is always looking out for people and referring [them] to other services when he feels people may need more support, whether other Age UK Enfield services, or other organisations across the borough.

“People really enjoy coming to Marks classes, often enjoying a cuppa and a chat afterwards. Many friendships have bloomed through the classes; sometimes people attending have been lonely, or have lost a loved one; so these new and often-long lasting friendships have often been a lifeline and given people a new lease of life.”

Making exercise sessions so enjoyable means people stick with it longer, helping to reduce loneliness, keep people fit and healthy, and can also mean they stay able and independent for longer too.

Find out more about Age UK Enfield’s ‘Fit for Life’ exercise classes:
Visit
ageuk.org.uk/enfield/our-services/fit-for-life

Enfield Community Heroes

This article is the latest in our ‘Enfield Community Heroes’ series, sponsored by Edmonton Green Shopping Centre. Dispatch readers are welcome to nominate their own local hero – someone who has gone above and beyond to help support the local community. Simply email your nomination to [email protected].


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