For Monica Phillips, life was not meant for slowing down. Chair of the Gosnells Uniting Church Council, at 82 years of age, Monica leads three Prime Movers classes each week – including at the most recent Regional Gathering for the Metro East Region of the Uniting Church in WA, where Monica led those present in a mini-class to help energise people for the day ahead. Prime Movers is a voluntary organisation running exercise classes for the over 55s.
Monica became involved in leading the classes 15 years ago, after her husband passed away. While he was alive, the couple spent their lives volunteering with the church, including a large involvement in youth work. After joining the classes as a member, however, Monica found that volunteering with older people was a natural progression. As for the fitness side of things, her health has never been better. Despite having arthritis and sometimes having to take time away from the classes for treatment, she is always itching to get back.
“My rheumatologist reckons its put ten to twelve years on my life,” she said. “Because you’ve got to use your brains and muscles.”
But there’s more to it than fitness. As a committed Christian, Monica loves the connection that she makes with many of the people who attend the classes. She said that many of the people who turn up at the classes for the first time are not sure how much they’ll be able to participate due to injuries or chronic illness. Monica is passionate about assuring them they can achieve more than they think. She also said that older people who live on their own often don’t get much social interaction and she is honoured to be able to build friendships.
“You’d be surprised how many people, women in particular, have little contact,” she said. “It’s very satisfying to see people getting so much out of it themselves.” For more information on Prime Movers visit http://primemovers-exercise.com.au/