Pain and stiffness shouldn’t hold people back.
This is the message of joint movement leader Martin O’Toole, who for the past year has been helping people with debilitating arthritis to “get loose”.
Three times a week Mr Martin can be found at the Launceston Aquatic Centre where he conducts warm water therapy sessions.
The classes are specifically designed to help ease pain and discomfort associated with many forms of arthritis.
Mr O’Toole said the classes weren’t just about exercise – they were a form of therapy.
“When I started these classes I knew about the potential benefits for people’s fitness and overall health,” he said.
“But I never realised the positive impact these classes would have on their state of mind. About one in four Tasmanians suffer from arthritis in one form or another.
“People are being transformed by this therapy, both mentally and physically.
“Many people living with arthritis are isolated by their condition and can easily become depressed.
“We are literally shaking things up with this class and the results have been wonderful.”
Launceston’s Kenneth Neville was facing a long road to recovery after suffering a stroke.
The 78-year-old has been attending Mr O’Toole’s group exercise class twice a week since its inception.
Mr Neville’s daughter Lynne Yunk said the experience had completely transformed her father, particularly after the sudden death of his wife.
“When Dad first had his stroke, there was a really long road ahead of him in terms of recovery,” she said.
“He started the therapy sessions and straight away we could see the improvements.
“There were cardiovascular improvements, he was becoming sharper in his mind.
“It also became a really important aspect of his social life.
“Then when Mum died, he was just left completely shattered. But the class was a real driving force for him to get on with life.
“He just gets so much out of it and it is such a happy, fun, supportive environment.”
Mr O’Toole said he had seen people like Mr Neville “blossom” during the therapy sessions.
“As an older instructor, I can relate to them and I think they relate to me,” he said.
“I have seen people blossom right in front of my eyes.
“I want to be as inclusive as possible, because I know many people in the community simply cannot afford other therapy options.”
More information about the warm water therapy sessions can be found here.