“I FEEL like superman,” says sporty pensioner Raja Khan, who is helping men in the community fight off depression and inactivity.
The enthusiastic fitness trainer has moved his men-only classes online during the pandemic — and they are more popular than ever.
Around 30, aged between 50 and 86, have got to grips with Zoom for Raja’s 40-minute classes held every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 11am and 4pm.
“Every one of our participants is very happy,” said Raja (66), of Rotherham Healthy Lifestyles group.
“They say if we did not have our sessions they would sit at home, feel lonely, get depressed, gain fat and have arguments.
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“Their wives are also grateful that we are keeping them active.”
The classes first started two years ago at the Aslamaaya Centre on Fitzwilliam Road before moving to the Unity Centre where Tom Charlton, brother of football legends Jack and Bobby, regularly attended.
The classes, backed by Volunteering Matters — Sporting Chance, were put on hold due to the pandemic.
But grandfather-of-11 Raja restarted them from his Brinsworth home via Zoom in September.
“The classes are even busier on Zoom,” he said.
“I had to learn about Zoom and encourage other participants to go on it — some had to be helped by family members, now they are very eager.
“I feel so blessed. Each and everyone who attended our classes is so grateful, it’s benefited them immensely.
“I feel intoxicated with joy!”
He added: “When something good is happening you feel you made a little contribution, it gives you a buzz.”
The classes range in levels, from chairobics to standing and floor work.
Raja said success story Ishtiaq Ahmed (58) was told it would take him two years to have full movement without pain in his shoulders following surgery.
Raja added: “He says it has taken him six months to get full movement without pain because of our fitness sessions. He is ecstatic!”
Martial arts expert Raja said he is at peak fitness, comparing himself to a world-renowned bodybuilder.
“I look like Father Christmas but I am as strong as Charles Atlas,” he said. “My grandchildren think I am superman.”
Angela Parveen Jameel (57) said her father Mohammad Jameel (85) eagerly awaited the chairobic sessions, which had benefitted him greatly.
“My father was always a positive person, a successful businessman and active member of the community but the past four years have seen him deteriorate due to the loss of his wife of 60 years and his subsequent battle with serious illness,” said Angela, of Treeton.
“Mr Raja’s sessions have built his self-esteem and given him a window into his community to interact and catch-up that he so missed, thus mitigating the impacts that essential shielding has had on his low morale.”
She added: “Everyone can see the difference it is making to him. His face is glowing, and that beautiful smile is back on my father’s face again.”
To join, contact Raja on 07913836053 who will guide members through a health questionnaire.