Exercising your options 

122 Exercise for Seniors
122 Exercise for Seniors
Rhonda Dredge

Some high-rise residents have decided not to return to gyms because of concerns about viral infections. 

Anne Fairhall is 78 and lives on the 39th floor of a building near Boyd Park. Two months ago, she was feeling guilty about letting her exercise regime go. But she considers herself as being in an “at risk” category and wants to protect her husband who is in aged care. 

That means she doesn’t want to catch COVID so she can keep on visiting him and has opted for online exercise classes instead.  

Anne had just started an exercise physiology plan when the first lockdown was called.

“They closed and I cancelled my sessions,” she said. “I have looked for other options that can be done from home or outdoors to minimise exposure to others and reduce risks of contracting either COVID or other infectious viruses which have been rampant over winter.”  

Anne’s case highlighted the importance of the mental and physical health of high-rise retirees in Southbank apartment towers. 

Most buildings have gyms but their closure during lockdown caused distress and prompted residents to look for other options.  


Some gyms in the area plus the City of Melbourne have been addressing the issue with programs tailored to the needs of seniors.  


Mel Gray is one senior who has opted for continuing his program of combined physiotherapy and exercise at the Kieser gym in City Rd, which specialises in core and back strength.  

“It’s not a place with mirrors,” Mel said.

Kieser managed to stay open during the lockdown by offering one-on-one consultations under the umbrella of physiotherapy.  

Two months ago, when Southbank News first started investigating the issue, exercise physiologist Mason Vivian said that many people had not returned to the gym.  


“People find an increased comfort in isolation,” he said, expressing concern that “90 per cent of people don’t do their home programs and only five per cent do them well.”  


Recently the gym took on two new exercise physiologists. “We’re getting more members,” one said, “but we do still have clients iffy about coming.”  

The physiologist said that people can exercise with a mask on – “not strenuous exercise but strength building”.

The City of Melbourne sends out weekly recorded exercise activities to seniors. •

“They can be done flexibly in your own time while watching instructions on Zoom,” Anne said.  


Caption 1: Mason Vivian: concerned about home exercise programs.

Caption 2: Anne Fairhall: feels safe in her Southbank apartment.

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