Former Liberian Refugee Now Helping North Queensland Seniors Regain Strength and stay fit

Kay watching Karol push weights smiling Photo: Gym owner and personal trainer Kay Nyenuh gives Karol Renaud some advice on her gym technique. (ABC Tropical North: Sophie Kesteven )
Kay watching Karol push weights smiling
Photo: Gym owner and personal trainer Kay Nyenuh gives Karol Renaud some advice on her gym technique. (ABC Tropical North: Sophie Kesteven )

{ABC Tropical North/By Sophie Kesteven} – A former African refugee is helping improve the strength of seniors in regional Queensland.

Standing inside the gym he now owns in North Queensland, Kay Nyenuh explained he originally grew up in Liberia and Ghana.

The 38-year-old moved to Mackay on a humanitarian visa almost a decade ago, and said he would not have been able to make the move without the help of one senior citizen in the town.

Grateful for the opportunity he received, the personal trainer is now giving back to seniors in the community by offering them free group strength training sessions once a week.

“Not everyone can afford personal training or gym memberships, especially being seniors, so I thought my way to give back to the community was to do this program and help seniors,” Mr Nyenuh said.

“They need help and this is my way of doing it.”

Photo: Mr Nyenuh is helping seniors build muscle and improve their health for free at his gym in Mackay. (ABC Tropical North: Sophie Kesteven )
Photo: Mr Nyenuh is helping seniors build muscle and improve their health for free at his gym in Mackay. (ABC Tropical North: Sophie Kesteven )

Mr Nyenuh said the sessions aimed to help prevent and manage osteoporosis by increasing the physical strength and flexibility of people aged 65 and over.

“As [seniors] get older, it’s very important for them to have a good quality of life,” Mr Nyenuh said.

Photo: Mr Nyenuh is helping seniors build muscle and improve their health for free at his gym in Mackay. (ABC Tropical North: Sophie Keste
Photo: Mr Nyenuh is helping seniors build muscle and improve their health for free at his gym in Mackay. (ABC Tropical North: Sophie Keste

“So, [as] opposed to sitting in a wheel chair and getting pushed around, they can do all these things for themselves.”

Hugh Pittman, a former physical education teacher aged 67, took part in the first senior’s training session with Mr Nyenuh last weekend and said it would be foolish not to take advantage of the opportunity.

“I exercise quite a bit, but Kay was emphasising correct technique which is always important,” Mr Pittman said.

   “I was a bit slack on that so I’ve picked up a few pointers from him.”

Karol Renaud, aged 68, embraced the fitness session in the hope of getting fit and improving her mobility.

“It’s great because most of us are pensioners and we can’t really afford really to have a personal trainer,” she said.

“So having someone who can give us the basics that we can continue on with at home is fantastic [and] I can meet new people, and we can all whinge about our aches and pains!”

Kay helping seniors with weights

Mr Nyenuh said he was impressed with the turnout of seniors for his first training session.

However, more turned out than expected and unfortunately, he had to turn some seniors away because he did not have enough room in his gym.

“I would love to see more personal trainers and even some gyms come on board to do this because today we had to say ‘no’ to some seniors because we can only accommodate 12 people,” he said.

“We’re not the biggest gym in town.

“If we can have more gyms and more personal trainers to come on board to give up one hour of a their time a week, I think that would be great and I would love to see that happen.

“Even if it’s nationwide, it would be great to help the seniors.” READ MORE OF THIS STORY

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About Cholo Brooks 15607 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.