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CCT | Virtual Exercise Sessions

When Pete and Jenny Bridewell found all their regular exercise halted by the pandemic, they looked around for something to replace it.

The couple, who live in Tedburn St Mary, swam three times a week at the pool in Okehampton and enjoyed being active together. Swimming was just one of many activities which have been paused during the pandemic and Pete and Jenny said they were really missing the benefits they felt from the regular exercise.

Whilst browsing Facebook, Jenny came across a new free virtual exercise class, designed specifically for older people, on offer from CITY Community Trust. The classes are being delivered through the charity’s National Lottery-funded Creating Connections programme, designed to help people connect in lockdown.

The seated exercise classes took place on Mondays through February and March and were led by instructor Caroline Dodd over Zoom.

Jenny said: “When we went into lockdown we had to stop our regular swimming and it meant we weren’t exercising as much as we had in the past. Our chiropractor had recommended that we do pilates, but it was quite tricky to do that without having someone to make sure we were doing it correctly.

“I have asthma, and although we enjoy walking, it is very hilly where we live and it can be challenging for my breathing.”

When she saw a post about CITY Community Trust’s Creating Connections project offering seated exercise classes, Jenny recognised instructor Caroline from her days doing aqua aerobics, and said she knew the classes would be great.

She added: “I asked Pete to join me and to my surprise he agreed. It has really helped us through this lockdown, Caroline and Jenna also have a chat with everyone, and although it’s not the same as in person, it is great to see other people and have a chat.”

The couple, who are both in their early 70s and used to work for Devon County Council, have been regular attendees since the sessions began.

Pete said: “It has been great to take part, she has built up the exercises, with a little more each week, but you can do it at your own pace and Caroline is always so encouraging. You can feel it is doing you good – it does get your heart rate up. You also get the session sent to you afterwards so you can do it again in your own time.

And Creating Connections feels very apt for this family, who are involved with many aspects of Exeter City Football Club. The couple have three daughters and six grandchildren and members of the family attend matches (in normal times), their grandson is a member of Junior Grecians, and even their daughter has joined the new mums’ sessions which have been developed as part of the programme.

Jenny said: “It’s really lovely, it does feel like being part of the Exeter City family. It’s fantastic that CITY Community Trust is able to do things like this in the community, it’s a really brilliant initiative.”

Other activity offered by the Creating Connections team includes virtual coffee mornings; a pen pals scheme, connecting younger and older people, and a range of sessions for new mums.

For more information about any of the above activities, visit and search ‘Creating Connections’.

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