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The balconies at a major Staffordshire retirement living scheme have come alive since the coronavirus outbreak thanks to a quick-thinking fitness instructor.

Personal trainer Ben Bate has been a permanent fixture at our Beacon Park Village since it first opened its doors on Lower Sandford Street, Lichfield, in 2005. On hearing the government’s new social distancing restrictions, the 38-year-old worked with colleagues such as new leasehold services coordinator Kerry Steadman to quickly reconfigure his weekly fitness sessions for residents at the over 55s scheme.

Moving away from the village’s onsite gym, Ben now runs three outdoor fitness sessions every week with each of them in a different location: the front car park, the courtyard, and the rear car park. Videos of the workouts have captured dozens of residents getting involved, many of them using their own balconies to work out while keeping a safe distance from other people.

Using a just a microphone and his years of experience, Ben has been blending humour and some light strength work such as marching on the spot to unite residents and keep their spirits up during the current lockdown.

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“This hasn’t just been about exercise for me,” Ben said.

“It has equally been about bringing everyone together and easing people’s minds at what is quite a tough time for everyone and the response has been absolutely fantastic.”

He added: “We typically get between 15 and 20 people and we’ve been getting up to 30 in the past few weeks and as more and more residents hear about it, a greater number are coming out onto their balconies which is so great to see. We’ve been working on loosening their joints, using a range of movements to improve their core strength, and really just releasing those good endorphins.”

Fitness sessions aren’t the only thing keeping residents entertained as the scheme has also held sing-alongs to popular classics such as YMCA by the Village People and Vera Lynn’s hit We’ll Meet Again referenced by the Queen recently during her public address to the nation.

Village manager Pat Jobson, said: “Ben is such a popular figure here at Beacon Park Village and it is no surprise to see him uniting customers in his usual dynamic way. These are undoubtedly uncertain times but we are running a varied activity programme to keep everyone’s spirits up whilst sticking to the government’s guidelines around social distancing.”

*The photos of Ben were taken prior to the government guidelines around social distancing coming into play

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