Gym for seniors opens in Bishan CC

Part-time pharmacist Tee Ah Lui is 82, but she has a spring in her step these days thanks to an exercise programme at Bishan Community Club.

Madam Tee has osteoporosis in the knee and hip, but the Gym Tonic programme she has been attending twice a week for three months has helped her walk quickly and painlessly.

She is one of 149 senior citizens who have completed the programme, which conducts strength training to improve functional ability.

The programme gets a boost as well. It moved yesterday from a temporary room to a permanent home at the community club. It is the only Gym Tonic centre open to the public. The other 25 are in eldercare facilities. The Bishan programme, created in partnership with the Lien Foundation, started in April this year.

Each three-month course costs $180 for 24 sessions.

Those who want more training can extend their participation to six months.

Madam Tee told The Straits Times: "I find it very suitable for older people like me because there is the support for us to lie down while we exercise and we will not fall.

"The machine also customises the weights, so we do not need to be afraid we will overexert and tear our muscles."

Madam Tee said: "I used to walk in a rather bow-legged way, and I couldn't stand straight. After three months here, I can walk faster and don't have so much muscle cramps any more when I stretch. It has really helped, and I'm so happy I started doing this."

Mr Chong Kee Hiong, adviser to Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC Grassroots Organisations, said the key concern is that as people age, their knees get weaker and falling is a problem.

"Gym Tonic offers them a structured programme, after which they should know how to use other exercise equipment under their (HDB) blocks, for instance," said Mr Chong, who is an MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, in a media briefing.

Other initiatives include free traditional Chinese medicine clinic services every Tuesday and Friday at the community centre and dementia-friendly campaigns.