The birth of a senior club

13 january 2020.

The MAKKA Leisure-sport Association in Budapest is one of the first local small communities which has offered a complex exercise program to its senior members since 2012. Of course, it would be conceited of us to say that from the beginning we have consciously planned our way to the present: now it is nearly 300 club members, 7-800 seniors including family members, 12 training sessions/week in 5 sports, 52 club events/month, approx. 20 excursions per year, tours in Hungary. The program has been continuously expanded and adapted to the needs.
Our Nordic walking program was announced in the year of foundation for the inhabitants of the 17. district of Budapest, but many people from the surrounding districts and settlements joined (10., 16. districts, Pécel, Maglód, Gyömrő). We, the organizers, were amazed by the success of the program: at that time, many people retired at a relatively young age after 40 years of employment, and not many program possibilities were available to them. Afterwards, the choice of activity proved to be fortunate: Nordic walking was also suitable for those who did not feel athletic and/or skillful anyway.
It is incredible to think back: we conducted training with 100-130 participants on Wednesdays from week to week, and the team stayed together after the program had ended: they demanded the usual exercises doing together, the warm-up and stretching exercises to supplement walking, the excursions already being organized at that time, and last but not least the company. Nordic walking is one of the few exercises during which we can make acquaintanceships and friendships while talking to others during exercising. This is what this age group has/had demand for: at the end of their active life working relationships will inevitably be gone, old friends may drift geographically away or leave. These newly established relationships and friendships have proven to be a retaining force in the program, and we funnily say, “People join us because of the good company and exercise is a not harmful side effect.”
Nordic walking is a great endurance and anti-depressant exercise for seniors. However, a year later we organized indoor exercises and senior physical exercises for our members in order to combine the development of both endurance and strength. Today, we have training in 3 groups at different levels. The training has a preventive nature, although many consider it as physiotherapy. It is a fact that while planning the elements of training, the health issues affecting the age group and that are present in the group should also be taken into account.
I myself have been teaching adults to swim for more than twenty years, and many of our senior members have grown fond of swimming. As a trainer, it is a tough but wonderful task to teach this relatively complex form of movements correctly at the age of 70-75, or at least to develop a spine- and joint-friendly individual technique that provides the optimum progress suitable for their capabilities.
Later we introduced aqua Nordic walking, which has been held regularly only by our association in Hungary. I found this exercise to be a good way of expanding the existing programs because those can also join who temporarily or permanently suffer from health or joint problems or overweight, hence they stay out of Nordic walking on the terrain.
Today, we offer possibilities of playing table tennis and tennis in our association, both activities are great lifetime sports that can help prevent or delay the development of dementia and Arzheimer’s disease. Besides, because of their playfulness they are really enjoyable.

Author: Kriszta Kovács, senior trainer