The Larks keep fit and look after their hearts

Aerobics instructor Jan Still leads The Larks at Unipol recreation centre on Wednesday mornings....
Aerobics instructor Jan Still leads The Larks at Unipol recreation centre on Wednesday mornings. PHOTO: SIMON HENDERSON
High-energy is not required for participants of The Larks exercise group.

The group was established by Tom Ross, of Kaikorai, about 10 years ago as an opportunity for people recovering from heart issues to exercise at a level that worked for them.

Now it has become simply a chance for people of all ages to stay fit in a welcoming environment.

Classes start at 9am every Wednesday at the Unipol recreation centre next to Forsyth Barr Stadium.

The cost is kept low, and the session includes aerobics, weight training, and stretching to cool down.

With an average age of about 60, the focus is on people who may need a little more supervision due to health problems but are looking to reduce the risk of a heart event.

The one-hour classes are led by experienced instructors who have recognised exercise and health qualifications.

One of the instructors is Jan Still, who has been running aerobics classes for more than 20 years.

"We start with a warm-up, then we do some very basic aerobics. We have some fun with a few dance tracks, and we do some upper body toning and sculpting with hand weights."

The class does some floor work for "legs and butts" and there is often some work on balancing and stretching.

"It is very much a class for all abilities. They are a friendly bunch of people."

The class is also a learning environment for University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic students who are completing studies in physical education, nursing or physiotherapy.

The students have the opportunity to meet participants and to better understand the requirements of older people.

People are asked to provide confidential medical information for emergency use.

Anyone can join the group by phoning 027930-3890.