Retirement housebuilders are providing more facilities and imaginative activities than ever before. JANE SLADE sources some of the best developments
At Bishopstoke Park village(anchor.org.uk) in Eastleigh, Hampshire, (one-bed apartments from £345,000), cheerleading has been added to the fitness timetable.
“Our village’s cheerleading squad, the Bishopstoke Belles, was formed last year when our walking football team played another local club,” explains Sandra McCove, Anchor’s Bishopstoke Park village manager.
“With the help of our wellness staff, the ladies coordinated their routine and practised regularly in the activities room in the weeks before the big game between the home team and Eastleigh FC. The Belles performed at half time which spurred our players on to win.
“The ladies are hoping for another match to be scheduled soon once the weather improves, and already have some ideas for their next routine.”
Residents from three Churchill Retirement developments in Dorset (churchillretirement.co.uk) teamed up and recorded their first single just before Christmas – and at LifeCare Residences’ Grove Place in Hampshire, (one-beds from £295,000) owners are learning falconry and archery.
“Not only is regular exercise key to a longer and healthier life, it is also proven to have a positive impact on mental well-being,” says Nick Sanderson, CEO of Audley Villages.
“Each Audley Club is home to a Health Club, swimming pool and fitness studio, where owners are able to try out a variety of classes such as Zumba or Pilates.”
Nancy Jordan had never done any exercise before buying her two-bedroom apartment at Audley St George’s Place(audleyvillages.co.uk)in Edgbaston last year. Now aged 86, the widowed hotel owner, is addicted to the gym. “I go to half hour classes four days a week and I use the running and cycling machines,” she says.
“I feel much better for it even though I have asthma. I don’t use a walking stick and don’t want to. It is also very sociable and having the gym just down the corridor and a nice young instructor called Tom to help us makes it easier.”
Activities also extend to using outside space as the more adventurous residents of Platinum Skies’s part-buy part-rent Monterey development in Christchurch, Dorset have discovered (platinumskies.co.uk ). “Being a coastal town, some of our residents are keen to enjoy a wealth of water-based pursuits,” says Lifestyle manager Alison LeClerc. “Including sailing, rowing and even kite-surfing!”
Older people need to exercise their minds too following a recent study that revealed that memory loss accelerates rapidly after retirement.
Lizzie Philpott, Head of Activities, at Richmond Village Letcombe Regis has introduced creative challenges to stimulate owners. (Richmond-villages.com)
“We’re a very creative community,” she says. “We host Art Weeks where our residents exhibit their work. Last year they did a wonderful iPad art piece and this year we’re thinking about a garden sculpture.”
A new addition to Renaissance Village’s Millbrook’s fitness menu is Tai Chi which combines movement with meditation.
“I think it is the mindfulness aspect of Tai Chi which makes the difference with other types of exercise and has attracted older people.” says Angus Clark who teaches a 90-minute class at the Exeter village once a week. (one- and two-bed properties priced from £339,950 millbrookvillage.co.uk )
Tai Chi has also been introduced at PegasusLife’s Chapelwood development in Wilmslow in Cheshire (one-beds from £360,450 pegasuslife.co.uk). “One lady who suffered a stroke last year has seen such a great improvement in her mobility that she now does Tai Chi in the swimming pool,” said communications manager Tajinder Leonard.