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Denise StoryDenise Barnard is a leader of the Age UK Wiltshire Fitness and Friendship Club based in Calne and has taken on this role after previously being a participant in the group for 12 months. She initially started shadowing one of the volunteers and then undertook training to be able to lead her own sessions.

Denise was a manager at Women’s Fitness for 8 years and now works in Domiciliary Care and she has a real passion for helping people become more active and therefore become more independent.

The Low Impact Functional Training course gave Denise the confidence to be able to lead sessions on her own. It provided support with the admin side of leading sessions as well as how to adapt exercises to suit a range of people.

Seeing people become stronger and more independent through exercise is really rewarding and Denise has noticed through her domiciliary work how quickly some people can deteriorate. Denise see’s the benefits of people staying physically active and how it keeps them healthier for longer.

Volunteering has helped Denise focus on getting back into regular exercise herself as she had become rather relaxed over the past 3 years and she says, “it’s too easy to just stay at home and do nothing.”

Denise would love to take this programme into care homes where older people are more restricted and can’t make it out to the sessions.

When planning and preparing sessions, Denise will practice the activities on her husband who has said ‘this is amazing’ and has found it to be very beneficial for him too. When he’s not working, he now comes along and joins in her sessions.

At the moment Fitness & Friendship Clubs are delivered fortnightly and only term time, but Denise would like to deliver them weekly and throughout the year to ensure sustainability and keep peoples interest and activity levels high. If Denise hadn’t become a volunteer leader the sessions would have had to come to an end.

Denise believes that getting people together on these types of sessions are so important and beneficial for social, mental and physical aspects.

This session maybe the only activity and interaction with people all week, it’s so important to be able to offer this service.

Denise loves being a volunteer and would encourage anyone who has the time and inclination to help others to ‘Give it a go!’.

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