22 December 2023

Jump up and get down: Meet the man keeping Riverina seniors active

| Jarryd Rowley
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Steve Vane has between 10 and 30 participants at each program.

Between 10 and 30 people attend each of Steve’s programs two to three times a week. Photo: Jarryd Rowley.

Steve Vane has been a Wagga local for more than 16 years and has owned some of the city’s finest cafes, worked in the Department of Education and been a personal trainer.

Now happily retired, Steve is successfully pursuing something he believes is essential – making sure seniors stay active and healthy.

Three times a week, Steve and more than 50 participants gather at a choice of locations around Wagga – often Flexit Gym, Bolton Park or Wagga Beach – to indulge in 30 to 45 minutes of enjoyable yet sweat-inducing physical activity.

“We have around three classes a week aimed at seniors from around 50 to as far as 85,” Steve said.

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“Every Sunday, I send out a message to people on my list, which sits [at] around 55 people, about where we will be meeting that week.

“We do a bit of exercise, often outside, and have a bit of fun.”

After attending one of the classes before Christmas, I can say Steve enjoys pushing people out of their comfort zones, but in a fun, judgement-free environment.

Activities included performing squats each time Brian Johnson screamed ‘thunder’, in the longest version of Thunderstruck that I’ve ever heard, as well as trying to remain balanced while passing medicine balls, and the usual stretches.

“A lot of the activities are about getting people to realize that they need to move against gravity,” Steve said.

“When we don’t [move against gravity], we age and our bones let us down because they’re always trying to keep us upright.”

Steve explained that the frequency of elderly people falling over was increasing, and the classes were a way to help try and buck that trend.

Steve Vane leading a program at Hype Studios Wagga

Steve’s programs are often balance-based and involve plenty of music to motivate participants. Photo: Jarryd Rowley.

“I think the reason behind it is due to people not remembering how to balance,” Steve said.

“A lot of the work here is about balance, standing on one leg, lunge work, getting on the floor and back up, things like that.

“If people practise that for 30 seconds a day, it will do them wonders.”

Steve said that participants knew that everyone had different capabilities yet they tried to push one another which helped to create a positive and judgement-free space.

“It’s become a unique social space and that’s what makes people want to come back,” he said.

“Programs are $5; it’s cheap and affordable. In saying that, it’s not about the money. I just love seeing people get up and move.”

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A number of Steve’s programs are held at Flexit Gym and Hype Studio, where they have been running for more than three years.

“The owner of Flexit Gym, Ash Warren came to me a couple of years ago and said, ‘Hey, if you want the space feel free to use it’ and there’s no charge for that,” Steve said.

“Ash’s generosity makes it very economical for people to come and do it; there really is no reason not to.

“A little bit of movement each day helps and I’m more than happy to give the words of encouragement needed to get people up and about. Just bring a towel and some water and we will look after you.”

People looking to join Steve’s programs can do so by contacting him on 0438 823 331 or by asking the team at Flexit Gym.

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