Ballarat’s least active status prompts gym to give free group classes

A GYM owner shocked by Ballarat’s status as the least active region of Victoria has taken it upon herself to get people moving. 

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Integrity Group Fitness’s Naomi Irvin will give people eight weeks of free group classes designed for those who haven’t been active for a while. 

“Confidence is a big issue for people who haven’t exercised in a while, as well as knowing where to go and what to do,” she said. “It’s important  not to go too hard too soon.” 

Ms Irvin said the program would include cardio and light weights work. 

A Heart Foundation study released on Thursday found Ballarat was one of the unhealthiest towns in the country, with high rates of heart disease and hypertension, backed up by very high smoking and obesity rates. 

It said 85 per cent of the community lived a “sedentary” life, and that one third of the community was obese. 

More access to exercise is also backed by former head of the seminal Life, Be In It campaign, Dr Ian Bennett. 

“I’m too busy, I’ve got an injury – there’s a hundred excuses people have come up with. The bottom line is that it’s very easy to make excuses, and there things people can do to remove weight, and group exercise is good for that,” he said.  Mr Bennett was also behind the Best O’ Lake timing system at Lake Wendouree, which he said was helpful for people looking for “gradual and steady improvement” as well as strong athletes. 

Ballarat mayor Joshua Morris, a PE teacher, supported the idea. 

“It’s important for us all to get some exercise, regardless of age or fitness level, even just to go for a walk,” he said. 

“If you like being around people, get involved in a local sports team, or if you want that interaction and some more motivation, go for walks or runs with a friend.” 

The Heart Foundation defines a sedentary lifestyle as doing less than 150 minutes of mild exercise a week, which be walking or even household tasks that require a bit of effort. 

People interested in Ms Irvin’s fitness class can drop in to the studio on level 2, 37 Sturt Street, Ballarat, before August 31.

alex.hamer@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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