Strong supporter of kettlebell training
ON HER 68th birthday, Rosette Galea lifted a total of 6800kg of weights in her 45-minute kettlebell training session.
That's roughly the equivalent weight of six Toyota Yaris hatchbacks.
A kettlebell is a type of dumbbell or free weight, with the appearance of an old-fashioned kettle - round with a flat base and an arced handle, which can be both lifted and swung.
Rosette, who has just turned 71, is the unofficial poster girl for PhD candidate and physiotherapist Neil Meigh's clinical trial measuring the impact of kettlebell training on muscle mass, strength, balance and physical fitness among older adults.
The Bond University researcher, who has been involved in strength training since 1991 and using kettlebells exclusively for more than six years, said his life-long passion was to help people make better lifestyle choices.
He has a particular interest in healthy ageing, reinforced by his father's sudden death from heart disease.
He hopes his research will transform the way healthcare providers help older adults maintain regular exercise and physical independ-
Neil began his PhD last year after closing his Southport physiotherapy practice, where he held daily group kettlebell classes for almost two years.
Rosette, who he describes as "5 foot tall at a push", was one of his most regular and keen participants, completing 192 sessions over 18 months, ultimately able to lift about 50kg and swing 40kg.
"I just excelled at it; I got so strong in my legs and torso and it improved my overall body stability," Rosette said, adding it had saved her from a nasty fall, as well as improving her outrigger paddling.
Neil said only about one in 10 people aged over 50 in Australia did enough exercise to get any cardiovascular benefit.
"Unless we work to keep it, we tend to lose our physical capacity as we age, and that loss tends to become more pronounced the older we get," he said.
The impact on physical functioning caused by loss of muscle mass and strength can be dramatic, limiting our participation in activities, leaving us vulnerable to potentially life-changing falls and diminishing our quality of life.
And then there are the psychological benefits.
"It's not just about getting people physically stronger, it's about building confidence in your body and the ability to do the things you want, without the worry that you might hurt yourself," he said.
Searching for 30 average over-60s to be part of his free clinical trial, Neil was overwhelmed to receive 156 inquiries locally, as well as others from around the country.
"I think a lot of older people are really keen to get into something active," he said.
Participants will receive a full assessment of physical health, body composition analysis and, after an initial baseline period, supervised group training three times a week for eight to 12 weeks from February.
Neil believes kettlebell training is a great community fitness option for seniors because it is cheap, portable and fun.
He hopes to share participants' progress on Instagram and Facebook @thekettlebellphysio.