Basel is an inspiration to his peers and grandchildren, and a longstanding regular at Central YMCA Club. Fiona, Basel’s daughter, shares her reflections on what the Club has meant to her father – before, during and after lockdown.
“My father is 88 now, he has been coming to the gym for over 25 years and it has really seen him through a lot of life’s changes. It has always been a constant presence in his life. A presence which has helped him in so many ways for his general wellbeing. I actually attribute the fact that he is still mentally sharp, that he is still able to do all his daily functions on his own, to go shopping, be alert, I attribute that to the YMCA gym.
“This is in very sharp contrast to how his life was in lockdown – when he was just walking around the park by himself. Very often from one week to another week not seeing anyone. When the Government allowed the YMCA to open, his drive for life really came back.
“The YMCA Gym provides an amazing space for the older generation. It has enabled my father to be a real role model to his peers, to his friends and his family around the world. They are amazed at the fact that he does half an hour of rowing a day and that he is motivated to eat very well and stay fit and healthy. It is a great example to us that he is so fit – and it gives me hope that this level of fitness and wellbeing is possible at his age. It motivates myself and my husband to keep healthy; and it cascades down to my children too, who try to compete with Grandad for who can do the most sit ups. I think that they will have an everlasting memory of him; and they will know themselves when they grow older that they can remain fit and healthy.
“The YMCA gym’s sphere of influence does not stop at its doors on Great Russell Street, it goes beyond that. It goes into people’s houses and into the families that are connected with those houses. It helps the NHS by keeping everyone fit and mentally sharp, easing the increasing burden of an aging population.
“I would just like to say thank you to everyone here at the YMCA Club for making it such a special place and how grateful I am to you all.”