Keep Fit class celebrates 18th year

Chris with some of the ladies from the Keep Fit class
Chris with some of the ladies from the Keep Fit class

A Keep Fit class for ladies has marked a special birthday.

On September 3, session leader Chris Benham celebrated the 18th anniversary of the very first Ladies Keepfit class at Pagham village hall, which he has been running since 1999.

Chris, who is also a sports therapist, has lived and worked in the Bognor area for many years.

He said: “I’d previously held a circuit training class for Chichester Runners and it’d been quickly oversubscribed. I thought that I’d set up a class for men at the new Pagham Village Hall when it opened.

Two weeks of promotion then the first night came and a couple of very unusual characters turned up, both of whom wanted the quick route to a six pack without any work! Disappointing to say the least. As I was locking up, the key holder said “Why not run it for women? My wife’d come”. So I did. It was a success.”

The Keep Fit classes are designed to be suitable for people of any age and ability, and run from 2pm to 3pm on Thursdays at Pagham Village Hall.

Chris said: “Last week we had a five year old granddaughter along with us – the exercises are good for everybody. I’ve worked for 25 years as a sports therapist and seeing many, many people with injuries, aches and pains has enabled me to incorporate, over time, a first class 60 minute routine that, as well as improving general fitness, addresses and protects against the most commonly seen muscle and joint problems.”

Frances, Chris’s wife, has started attending the classes. She said: “The ladies that attend tell me they love the classes as Chris provides a structured , beneficial and fun exercise routine each week, and they feel encouraged but not pressured to give their very best each week. I am the newest member to the group, and have felt welcomed by everyone.

“Chris was a coach at the Chichester Running group and originally set up this class as a strengthening conditioning and fitness class for the Bognor Area at the newly opening Pagham Village Hall. Initially the class was intended for men, but the attendance levels were low. Chris decided to publicise the class for ladies and soon found he had an attendance of about 20. The class has seen the numbers rise and fall over the last 18 years, but it is still going strong, with some of its original members, who have been attending since day one, still going along.”

“All the exercises are done to music and we have breaks for quick sips of water The class itself begins with a stretches session, where Chris demonstrates each, explains what to do, which muscle or muscles we are stretching and what we should be feeling if we are doing this correctly!. We then move on to more stretches, but this time on the floor with our mats, then it is onto aerobic exercises which not only get the heart rate going but co- ordination too. Then its back to the mats to do some muscle tone exercises followed by a final few minutes of relax and unwind. Again Chris demonstrates and explains as we go, but only asks of us the best we can do.”

For more information, contact 07729 898022.