November 3, 2022

Fit Fellas

A fitness group for grumpy old men.

Up to three times a week, these grumpy old men get together to exercise in a class that’s exclusively for seniors, by seniors.

“It’s so much more than just fitness” - Barry Chapman.

Barry has been a lifelong fitness coach. He joined Fit Fellas 26 years ago and continues to coach his peers in more than just exercise.

The group has been running for over 45 years now, and serves senior men exclusively.

“Our oldest guy is 99”, according to Barry.

What these guys have found is that there’s something special to having a fitness class that’s run by peers instead of young trainers. For one, they’re more comfortable with being themselves. Young trainers often push people to their limits without really understanding the physical and mental constraints that an older person may be experiencing.

Part of that is because older men generally are more likely to keep their vulnerabilities to themselves.

Barry expressed to me during his interview that the true value that the Fellas get out of this experience is the trust and bonds they create. Many of them suffer illnesses that they’re too afraid to talk about. Things like prostate cancer.

“Why didn’t you say so, we’ve got three guys who just went through that”, Barry would tell them. Sharing personal experiences, insights, and resources for getting through some of the hardest part of life is priceless.

The camaraderie is undeniable, and sometimes unavoidable, as the guys loosen up with their crass humour and unrestrained bodily functions. Apparently while I was filming, one guy was pretending to take a pee on my head as I was capturing a low angle shot.

79 going on 7.

Keeping their bodies functioning is of the utmost importance. But so is the community aspect. Every class is coupled with birthday celebrations, musical performances, community support for veterans and other seniors groups. After each class, the Fellas mosey over to the seniors centre for coffee and cupcakes.

Not sure how I feel about a post-workout cupcake, but that’s not the point I know.

Barry says that there are plans to involve women, and that during Covid lockdowns when they took the classes online, there were some women participants. Two of whom didn’t even realize until they took the online class that they lived in the same building.

The Fit Fellas gather at the West Vancouver Community Centre, which has long been the poster child for HCMA Architecture + Design. There’s just something about this place that can’t be explained in any tangible metric. The community here is so alive. The affection is so rich. It’s this sense of emotion that has inspired the series we call “The Space Between”, of which this film on Fit Fellas is part of.

Thanks for reading. Catch you next time with another great story.

Love,

Inder

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Written By
Inder Nirwan
Co-Owner & Filmmaker