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2,014-year-old flash mob strikes Tauranga

With a combined age of 2,014 and an average of 77, a group of retirees surprised morning shoppers in Bayfair and Bethlehem today in the form of a flash mob.

The group of 26 residents from Ryman Healthcare's Bob Owens Retirement Village in Bethlehem performed the two flash mobs in two hours at Bayfair and Bethlehem shopping centres.

The driving force behind the flash mob events was village sales advisor Jan Corbett who wanted to show that there's no age limit on being fit and funky, and having fun!

The group members, who ranged in age from 72 to 91, had been practising their dance moves for just over eight weeks under the expert guidance of their dance coordinator Sarah Nichols and were even asked for an encore.

The crowds gather to watch the flash mob doing their moves.

The eldest flash mobber, Jessie Bicker, who is just four days shy of her 92nd birthday, was thrilled with the turnout from her family, which included a surprise visit from her granddaughter and greatgrandchildren who live in Taupo.

Her daughter Kathy was impressed: "It was awesome, they have done so well!" she said.

Jessie, who admitted she never would have dreamed she'd be doing a flash mob at nearly 92, said there had been a few sleepless nights but she was delighted with the reaction, especially at the Bethlehem Kmart where a few of the other village residents and staff had turned up in support.

"It was wonderful!" she said, beaming from ear to ear.

"We made a few mistakes but it didn't matter because everyone was smiling!"

Jessie has been a regular at the village's Triple A exercise classes since moving into the village. "I enjoy it, it just gets you going. It's good fun and it's good for you too."

Jessie Bicker was thrilled that her granddaughter and grandson came to watch.

Ngaire and Kerry Bentley, who have lived at Bob Owens for five years, felt lucky to have both their daughter Fiona up from Edgecumbe and their son Adam with his wife Claire and their 10-year-old son Jay down from Auckland for the special occasion.

"That was so cool," said Adam. "It was polished."

"Great choreography," added Fiona. "Mum was out the front leading the way, it was so cool.

Grandson Jay prompted a big laugh when he said they were both good: "But Nana was better!"

Fiona said she had noticed a huge difference in her parents since they moved into the village.

"They have got more of a social life and active life than ever. Dad does the bar and mum does the aquaaerobics, they've got a dancing group and a walking group..."

Adam said: "It's added years to their lives."

Kerry Bentley with his son Adam, daughter-in-law Claire and grandson Jay, plus his daughter Fiona, wife Ngaire and Bob Owens own Jan Corbett!

Another resident, 80-year-old Nancy Merriman, said getting on board with the flash mob idea had been a great incentive to lose some weight.

"I've got to have my knee done and the surgeon said it would be a good idea to do something about the weight and that was the same time they were starting the rehearsals.

"I decided I would do it, that way I would have a reason to lose this weight, and I've lost 7.2kg!

"I'm absolutely thrilled and now I wish they would do another one as I'd like to get another 10kg off," she laughed.

"It was invigorating, real fun," she added.

Jan said the flash mob idea had been a huge success with the residents.

"They have been so committed to the rehearsals even practicing at home.

"It gets them having fun and doing something different that they haven't done before.

"And it pushes them out of their comfort zone and getting to know a group of people they didn't know that well before."

Jan said it would also be a great way to show people what fun the residents have in the village.

"Age is no boundary to having fun. It's just been a blast, they have all absolutely loved it and so have I!"

Most of the flash mobbers are participants in Ryman's in-house exercise programme, Triple A, which stands for Ageless, Active and Aware.

Jan Corbett having a giggle with the flash mobbers outside Bayfair shopping centre.

Two of the group, Gerry Hodgson and Billy Beckett, hadn't previously done Triple A but were now devotees.

"It's the first time I've done anything like this," said Billy. "It gets me away from the TV set!"

Billy Beckett (centre) is all smiles after the first flash mob routine finishes​.

Group photo outside Bayfair shopping centre.

The Triple A programme was devised by exercise physiologist Nicki Brown, formerly Ryman's activities and lifestyle manager and now village manager at Ryman's Diana Isaac village.

Nicki completed a study of Triple A as part of her continuing education and concluded that individuals generally exercised less prior to moving into a retirement village, and their fitness improved in the new environment.

Her mantra is that the fitter you are – whatever your age or stage – the healthier you will be in the years ahead.

Assistant Manager Suzette Vorster and Clinical Manager Tracey Dunn get into the flash mob mood!

More than 2,500 residents follow the regime at Ryman's 32 villages.

"Having such a good take up of the programme is significant because there's a wealth of evidence that shows the more you exercise the healthier and more independent you will be in the long term," she said.

"The truth is you're never too old to exercise – you've just got to choose the right way to do it."


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