Vitality Club is more than just a community class in Sydney's inner west - it's a place where these retirees are turning back the clock.
Starting out as a free community walking group, the business is the brainchild of Ahilan St George and Theeban Rubasingham.
Rubasingham says, “We were kind of unhappy with the level of treatment and care our grandmothers were getting. We thought we could do it better, to help out more in the community.”
After several years in their chosen professions of law and finance, the two friends saw the good they could do not only for their families but for the wider community.
Ahilan says, “Everywhere in the world is having the same problem at the moment, the population is ageing, the healthcare budgets because of that are blowing out of control and everyone's trying to figure out what to do with the problem.”
“We were just two kids with a walking group and then some exercise classes but we wanted to do so many great things. To do those things you need to demonstrate proof as a provider and in order to do that we built partnerships within the community.”
Within eight months, Vitality Club had won its first government tender, which will see the company receive $2.2 million by 2020.
It was for an assessment service to refer seniors into the aged care system, known as MyAgedCare.
Theeban says, “We didn't think we would get into it. But Ahilan, he's a lawyer, he relied on his writing skills, I used to be in finance, I relied on my financial skills and we wrote quite a good tender."
"It was a big pivot for the company but we were lucky we were young and agile as a startup business in that first year, that we could really see opportunities and go where ever we wanted.”
Ahilan says, “We have a multi-disciplinary allied health team, including occupational therapists, physiotherapists, exercise physiologists, dieticians and podiatrists.”
The company hit its next success when the government granted $800,000 up to 2018 to provide over 5000 hours of allied health care with a special focus on culturally diverse groups and LGBTQI communities.
Ahilan and Theeban say it's about more than just exercise - it also strengthens bonds and it builds community resilience.
Vitality Club client Parames Sabapathy says, “Initially it was so hard to do one sit up or do a push-up. This is one of the best things that I have done for my life, especially now I'm retired and I'm a diabetic.”
The walking group and exercise classes allowed Ahilan and Theeban to gain invaluable insights into the needs of seniors, particularly those managing chronic disease who wished to remain independent and living at home.
Nada Kerbage is one of the twelve Assessors Vitality Club employs and says, “It's a win-win situation because our service is about trying to keep them at home and that's exactly what they want at this age, to stay at home.”