Eddie’s Interview with Vitality Big Half

Founded in 2013 by Eddie Brocklesby, the UK’s oldest Ironman athlete, Silverfit has a mission to promote happier, healthier ageing through affordable physical activity, combating social isolation in the process. We spoke to Eddie – pictured above crossing Tower Bridge in The Vitality Big Half! – to get her thoughts on the event and why age is just a number…

Tell us about Silverfit.
Silverfit’s aim is to improve older people’s quality of life and also to save the NHS and social care providers money. Our members – approximately 2,000 so far with an average age of 70 – can meet up at 17 venues across nine London boroughs to exercise and socialise.

Individual venues offer different activities, from Nordic walking, to Pilates, yoga, walking football, tai chi, qi gong, Latin American dance, badminton, indoor cycling, gym/fitness classes, Bollywood dance and silver cheerleading. This choice means everyone should be able to find an activity they enjoy, regardless of ability or experience.

What are the benefits for your wider community?
As people age it can be more difficult to find activities that are safe, or they feel comfortable to engage in. At Silverfit we risk-assess all activities to ensure they are accessible and safe for all our members. Our instructors are qualified in the activities they lead and many are retirees wanting to stay fit and healthy.

At this stage in life, when you are no longer working, isolation can lead to loneliness and mental health challenges like depression. Attending a Silverfit session means you socialise before, during and after the activity, which goes a long way to help combat social isolation in the community.

How do you support each other?
As well as the sessions we have regular newsletters to all our members and Whatsapp groups for each venue where our members can ask questions and share experiences and we can update them on general news. And we have an incredible team – paid and volunteers – who are at every session sharing their knowledge and support.

What would you say to someone who might think they are too old to join a group exercise session with Silverfit?
You are never too old! I didn’t start running until I was in my fifties and learned to swim in my late-fifties so I could do my first triathlon. We have sessions for all levels of ability. If I were to pick our most popular sessions, they would be Nordic walking, silver cheerleading and Pilates. Walking football would be next as it attracts an energetic bunch of football lovers!

We are also in a phased reopening of our sessions in alignment with health guidelines. So currently our outdoor sessions are happening, and we will restart our indoor sessions once it is safe to do so.

Why do you think people should get involved in The Vitality Big Half?
The atmosphere is always such a fun one! There is no pressure from a serious competition, which is really nice, and the marshals are so encouraging along the way, even to those, like me, bringing up the rear. I have done The Vitality Big Half three times now and loved it every time. Most of our members walk or Nordic walk the route, so as long as you think you can do it in under four hours, come and join us!

Why is it important for you to be part of this event and ‘run as one’ with others?
This is an important community event and Silverfit is part of the London community, especially in the four boroughs it passes through. We also want to continually remind people that age is just a number. We have members in their seventies-plus who absolutely love this event. The opportunity to meet people from all walks of life is perhaps one of the best things about The Vitality Big Half and wearing a Silverfit T-shirt helps you feel part of the team, promoting the Silverfit message.

How can people get involved with Silverfit?
You can get involved several ways, including running or walking for Silverfit in The Vitality Big Half on Sunday 22 August.

If you can’t take part in The Vitality Big Half this year, you can donate any amount of money through our The Vitality Big Half Just Giving page to help us keep our sessions going.

Finally, if you want to become a member of Silverfit yourself and join our weekly sessions visit our website or email [email protected]

Natalie Rickman

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