Laois Council helps fitness class go on-line during the lockdown

Stories from local people who availed of supports to stay active

Leinster Express Reporter


Leinster Express Reporter


Laois Council helps fitness class go on-line during the lockdown

In recent years, Laois Sports Partnership supported by Laois County Council, Laois Age Friendly Alliance and Healthy Ireland Laois have been able to support older adults to stay active with their activator pole programme.

The activator pole programme has become a very popular activity for fitness enthusiasts and people managing post/hip knee surgery, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, Osteoarthritis and fall prevention.

The benefits in using these poles for exercise are to improve stability, reduces impact on hip and knee joints, develop core strength, improve posture and promotes better gait pattern.

The programme was being delivered in locations such as Portarlington, Portlaoise and Mountrath. However, for safety reasons and to comply with public health guidance, Laois Sports Partnership moved their activator pole sessions on-line through Zoom sessions.

“Clients who were already familiar with the safe and correct use of the poles, were able to borrow them for their personal use during lockdown” reported Caroline Myers of Laois Sports Partnership.

“We immediately recognized a problem,” said David Murphy who manages the Age Friendly Alliance programme within Laois County Council.

“We purchased 50 activator poles, and these have been distributed through Laois Sports Partnership for existing and new Clients”.

For people who did not have access to the internet, the Sports Partnership decided to record videos and get them to put onto DVD’s which they also uploaded to their YouTube channel Laois Sports Partnership Official. These resources will support people to try and reach a minimum of 30 minutes of daily physical activity, as recommended in Ireland’s National Physical Activity Plan. It will also help an individual’s strength and confidence in their body, which will support them to be more physically active as well as developing transferable skills for everyday life.

Should anyone wish to get involved they can email the Sports Partnership at or contact them on 057 8671248 and they will arrange poles and resources.

Link to the outside

By Noreen
“I can't remember when, where or how I first heard of Laois Sports Partnership. I think it was in person when I volunteered to help with a walking group.
“Then again when another organisation I am in were trying to do something and there was help coming from the people in Laois Sports Partnership.
“If they can't help there and then they are great at making contact with someone or some group that can help. Laois Sports Partnership liaise with all types of groups in Laois and outside.
“When I went to learn Kayaking and Canoeing (before it was too late in years for me) in Vicarstown, LSP were there on hand. The walks around the county when we could. And lots more”.
“Since lockdowns and cocooning they have been a link to the outside for me. The zoom calls, well you know how they go. Now I look forward to them. Keeping the body active, use it or lose it, and body memory. They always stress within our own limits on any given day. We have permission to be ourselves.
“Isn't that something?
“Thanks to each and every one of you good people. It would be a much more stressful lockdown without you there to hold hands with”.


Red door day service
“We have regularly enjoyed wonderful support from Laois Sports Partnership, but especially since March 2020 and the subsequent COVID-19 challenges. They have given tremendous assistance to us and the individuals we support during this pandemic.
“During our interactions with the team we appreciate their friendly positive outlook, and their strong proficiency and broad knowledge to enhance well-being and mobility.
“Just a little example of how they have supported us:
“Facilitating Online support through Zoom at least twice weekly, supplied us with well-being manuals offering resources and pertinent information, supplied exercise DVD’s, Activator poles for all, safety gear; high-vis vest and hats, inclusive and supported walking groups with additional safety measures.
“Additionally, their frequent availability is greatly appreciated".

“Really enjoying our activator classes”

By Judy Barret, Portarlington Age Friendly Group Chairperson
“On behalf of the members of Portarlington Age Friendly Group, I feel I must let you know how much the support you are giving is appreciated, and welcome in these uncertain and frightening times we are struggling to get through every day.
“As you know, we are in the groups most at risk, and have lost our freedom, we must endeavour to protect our mental health and that is why Laois Age Friendly is so important to us.
“We are really enjoying our activator classes, the DVD’s are much appreciated by the people who have not got zoom. We want to extend our sincerest thanks for all you’s do especially to Laois Sports Partnership”.
Judy Barrett, Chairperson.

“All done at one's own pace”

By Fintan
I was first introduced to Laois Sports Partnership about two years ago, when Frank Fahey from Fit Walk Ireland demonstrated how to use Activator Poles {Fit Sticks} in the Gandon Inn.
Being a sufferer from Parkinson's I have problems with gait, and muscle stiffness. I found the use of the poles very helpful and improved my posture and gait.
Thanks to Catriona Slattery and the girls in LSP we had group walks guided by Donie Molloy around Derryounce Lakes and Emo Court. This was particularly welcome as we could meet which was socially very beneficial.
With the ongoing Covid 19 lockdown, we are doing online zoom twice a week, activator poles on Tuesdays demonstrated by Caroline and exercise to music demonstrated by Maureen Culleton.
I found the social aspect of the outings and the zoom classes to be as important as the exercise.
These are all done at one's own pace, always light-hearted and ending with a sing-song. This lockdown can be a very isolating time for people so all of the above helped me immensely.