Retirement isn’t always easy. When Archie and Sybil retired to Mapleton 15 years ago it was one major upheaval too many for Archie.
“The move really took it out of him,” says Sybil. “He went quiet and became introverted. He just didn’t want to leave the house.”
It was hard for Sybil, too, trying to cope with a sick husband when they’d hardly had time to make connections in their new community.
After meeting with Archie, a psychotherapist suggested he might benefit from joining a gym.
“She told us exercise was very good for restoring mental health,” says Sybil.
But, joining a gym full of strangers was a daunting prospect for someone who had withdrawn into himself.
And Archie was also struggling, physically. Archie is an amputee, having lost his right arm when he was just 20 years old.
“When we first moved here,” says Sybil, “Archie was having a lot of falls. Our physiotherapist said his amputation made him lop-sided. She thought his balance would improve if he did some exercises to build up his stump and shoulder muscles.”
With two health professionals now urging Archie to enrol in a gym, the advice was increasingly hard to ignore!
As it happened, the physio was a member of The Range Community Gym. Working alongside the gym’s professional trainer she designed an exercise program especially for Archie.
“At first,” says Sybil, “Archie wouldn’t talk to anyone. He’d speak only if he was spoken to.”
“Then, he started throwing a ball with Joe and he and Joe became friends.”
Gradually, Archie began to share a chat and a laugh with other members and Sybil noticed the happy and exuberant man she had married was starting to re-emerge. As his mood improved, Archie’s doctors were able to substantially reduce his medication.
“The gym was good for me, too!” Sybil confides. “While Archie was at the gym, it gave me a bit of a break.”
Archie and Sybil soon became fixtures at the gym. Now in his 80s, Archie is outgoing and gregarious and lights up the gym with his presence. Sybil serves as Secretary of the committee and is tireless in her fundraising efforts.
At first, Sybil was happy to leave the workouts to Archie. But, when she developed osteoporosis and stress fractures, her physiotherapist suggested she would also benefit from a workout program designed for her particular needs. Now, like many other local couples, Sybil and Archie work out together.
Sybil says The Range Community Gym played a major role in combating Archie’s once-debilitating depression. Over the years, Archie’s personalised exercise program has strengthened the muscles in his withered shoulder and upper arm. Today, he is no longer ‘lop-sided’, his balance is greatly improved and he walks with much more confidence. Regular exercise, a caring community, and an active social life have restored both his mental and physical equilibrium.
Archie and Sybil’s Mapleton ‘tree-change’ had a rocky start. But, we’re proud our local community gym provided the key to their happy retirement here on the Range.