How A Local Leisure Centre Engaged Older Audiences

Date: 10 April 2024   Author: Energise Me

Physical activity is a key ingredient in a healthy life. Helping older adults to stay independent, prevent falls and live longer. As we get older, our muscles lose mass as well as strength. Being active can become more tiring, and we become more likely to pick sedentary activities like reading.

One local leisure centre, Romsey Rapids Sports Complex (Places Leisure), noticed that their senior membership uptake was low. Romsey’s population, however, has a higher than the national average proportion of older adult residents. So, they knew that something needed to change to help their local community access physical activity opportunities that were right for them.

What changed?

With the ‘Five Elements of Health Ageing’ in mind (aerobic fitness, muscular strength, balance, flexibility, and social wellbeing), they turned their senior membership into a ‘Healthy Ageing membership’. Providing access to low-impact classes, swimming sessions, and the use of the Wellbeing Hub with extended opening hours.

The Wellbeing Hub has a variety of power assisted equipment so that older adults are able to exercise despite limited mobility, age or health conditions. The pool itself had walk-in accessibility so that people could enter the water confidently and comfortably.

Getting the word out

They used marketing tools like Facebook, as well as made connections with local groups and charities to spread the word of their updated offer.

What they consider their most successful tactic, however, was their indirect marketing approach. They targeted pre-existing members of the leisure centre, prompting them to think about the older adults in their own lives and how they would benefit from investing in healthy ageing. Social media posts, postcards on treadmills, banners and more all encouraged younger members to talk to their loved ones. Encouraging them to work on their core strength and stability, preventing the chance of falls and poor health later on in life.

Going anywhere alone can be a really scary experience. Romsey Rapids overcame this barrier by encouraging older adults to bring their partner or friend along for support in the early stages of the programme.

The result

The uptake in memberships increased by 300%! Leading to additional classes being added on the timetable to accommodate the new numbers, including steady and strong, forever active and aquafit classes. Since September, members have maintained their new exercise habits, while memberships continue to steadily increase.

A survey aimed at users of the Wellbeing Hub found that 90% said using it improved their balance and 89% said it improved their social interactions. With many saying how the power assisted equipment had helped to change their lives.

Live Longer Better

Live Longer Better is the national movement that aims to help older adults live life to the fullest and stay independent.

Focusing on being active, fall prevention, hydration and continence, and staying socially connected, visit the Hampshire County Council website for resources and advice to help you support others.

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