Those living rough in the streets of Adelaide are being helped to turn their lives around through exercise with the establishment of a Gym for the Homeless in the city.
The gym has been made possible by the donation of equipment, including rowing and cycling machines from Rostrevor College, and will soon see secondary fitness students from Rostrevor become ‘personal trainers’ to some of the city’s most vulnerable.
The free gym is operated by Foundation Fit SA, a not-for-profit organisation supporting those at risk, and is housed within Baptist Care SA’s homeless service – guaranteeing a place where vulnerable people feel safe and supported to exercise.
Year 11 student Ned Carey, who is currently undertaking his Certificate III in Fitness, said he was interested in pursuing a career in the fitness industry because it was rewarding both physically and mentally for himself and those around him.
“A gym like this gives less fortunate individuals a chance to improve their health and wellbeing so they can feel better about themselves and better tackle life’s challenges,” he said.
“Being involved in this program has enabled me to gain a better understanding of how important it is to help those less fortunate improve their physical and mental health so they can live a better life.”
Soso, who regularly uses the gym and attends the free twice-weekly guided sessions, said it was the only way homeless and underprivileged people could get access to structured, indoor exercise.
“For an old fella, this is fantastic,” Soso said. “I do everything, the bike riding, the stretching, the rowing.
“This is compassion in action; these young men are extending a hand of love and care to people who really need it. I see them as good souls.”
The head of Health and Physical Education at Rostrevor College, Glen Urbani, said the students would undertake 30-hour work placements developing fitness programs at the gym which will count towards their SACE or VET marks.
“This is a good example of the ‘hidden curriculum’ – a highly valuable form of real-life learning which brings secondary students out into the community,” he said.
“It takes learning to a whole new level and fits with what Rostrevor is all about and that is being connected to the community and being men for others.”
The co-founder of Foundation Fit SA, Simon Lucas, said supervised classes were held several mornings a week and included strength, fitness and coordination activities. He added that exercise was good for perseverance, discipline, mindfulness and focus, and that the mental health benefits were even greater than the physical outcomes.
“We believe that when someone starts to respect their entire being then they’ll likely respect the way they approach certain situations,” he said.
Mr Lucas, who is a Rostrevor old scholar, said there was great value in giving students who wanted to work in the fitness industry the chance to work with people experiencing mental health and other challenges.
“They are training to work in a profession that is all about improving lifestyle and making people feel good about themselves. To be able to deliver those benefits to any person or community, particularly a community that is vulnerable or disadvantaged, is even more valuable and rewarding.”Jump to next article