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Putting some real Oomph! back into care homes (Posted by Ben Allen)

Tue, 27 May 2014

Oomph!, the social enterprise I founded, provides funky and fun exercise classes for older adults and care home residents.
Come on – we all need a bit more Oomph! in our lives.
 
Oomph!, the social enterprise I founded, provides funky and fun exercise classes for older adults and care home residents.
 
It stands for Our Organisation Makes People Happy – and that runs through everything we do. From ‘Strictly Fun Dancing’, cheerleading, pom-pom shaking, and ‘Chairobics’, we have created unique classes, routines, and methodology.  We are now pumping out anything from rock ‘n’ roll routines and Second World War sing alongs to Zorba the Greek dance moves, in more than 700 care homes across the country.
 
It is a long way from when I started Oomph! as a 26 year-old in Scarborough. Having travelled around the world as a personal trainer and lecturer, I saw the huge opportunity in helping so many older adults get happier and healthier – a sadly neglected, but so important, area of the exercise market.
 
When I sold my car to fund the business and started knocking on care home doors, I never dreamed a few years later Oomph! would have run 7,000 sessions, had 100,000+ participants,  be growing at more than 10,000 new attendees every month… and be sweeping the country.
 
Oomph! is what gets me out of bed each morning. It puts a smile on my face through the day-to-day challenges any entrepreneur faces.
 
And that is exactly what Oomph! does every day for thousands of older adults. Oomph! classes give care home residents something to look forward to, some fun and some happiness – something to smile about. Not to mention the joy we bring to family and friends and care home staff.
 
But it is much more than that. There is a growing body of evidence that shows that regular physical exercise can have a profound effect on both the health and wellbeing of older adults. 
 
And Oomph! is working. Direct feedback from care home groups shows that we are improving the quality of life in care homes across a range of physical and mental metrics by more than 70%. Imagine a care home where residents and staff are 70% happier and healthier than before Oomph! arrived and you can see how important the Oomph! factor is.
 
Since care homes have started using Oomph!, there has been a 28% reduction in falls – tackling a multi-billion pound problem for the NHS.
 
With an ageing population and official UK figures already showing 93% of older adults don’t get enough exercise, there is a huge opportunity ahead for Oomph!
 
And we have big plans. Oomph! is scaling rapidly by training and supporting care home workers across major care home groups like Bupa (and even the NHS) to deliver high quality Oomph! classes cost effectively. Our Oomph! ambassadors also get regular fresh routines, music, and choreography to keep the smiles coming.
 
Our plan is to grow rapidly to help hundreds of thousands of care home residents every month and take Oomph! into the community – to put some Oomph! on every street corner.
 
My longer-term ambition is to make Oomph! an international exercise brand for millions of older adults.
 
But for now, the day-to-day feedback we are getting from residents is what drives me. When you are told, as I was this week, that Oomph! had helped somebody to start walking again, you just have to smile.
 

About Ben Allen (CEO and Founder of Oomph Wellness)

Ben Allen is the 28 year-old founder and CEO of Oomph! Wellness (www.oomph-wellness.org).
 
He won the 2012 Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award – the first entrepreneur and founder of a social enterprise to do so. Oomph! Wellness is committed to focusing its resources and investment on its social purpose and impact – to improve the quality of life of older adults everywhere. 
 
You can follow Oomph! Wellness on Twitter @OomphWellness

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