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What type of classes do we offer?

Our Active Living classes and courses are designed for people with long term conditions and those who want to improve their overall health and wellbeing. The classes are centred on the individuals needs to help improve their overall health and quality of life.

All classes have qualified instructors who are there to help and support you every step of the way.

See information below for more details on all the Active Living classes and the Download the Community Guide each classes and timetables.

With the leisure centres re-opening from (Wednesday 2nd December) but due to tier 3 restrictions we are unable to offer the gentle exercise classes at the sites at this time. Once we are able to restart the classes safety at the facilities we will contact you with the details.

We are however able to offer the gentle exercise classes now online and participants can now join from the comfort of their own home. This has allowed many of our participants to join our classes again and we want to open this invitation out to all our partners. The classes are designed for people with long term conditions or those who just want to get a little fitter with gentle exercises during this period of restrictions. The exercises will improve postural stability and balance, promote greater independence and help to reduce the risk of falls in the future. Those attending can choose to sit or stand for the exercises which will help also strengthen your muscles and joints.

The Active Living Online Timetable is set out below. We currently run 4 exercise sessions a week  and 1 FREE Coffee & Chat social, all of which start at 2:00pm on our online platform, MoveGB, all classes are £2, or free to Link4Life current members.  We are also working in partnership with HMR Circle who can supply free loaned tablets and support helping older people get online and connected. Please let me know if you know anyone who could benefit from this offer.


Day Class Duration
Monday Chair based seated exercise 30 minutes
Tuesday Gentle exercise, seated and standing 30 minutes
Wednesday Chair based seated exercise 45 minutes
Thursday Gentle exercise, seated and standing 45 minutes
Friday Coffee & Chat social, FREE 45 minutes

If you have anyone who you feel could benefit please complete the referral form – Either: Use the secure email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Or post to: Paul Gardner, Link4Life, Number One Riverside, Smith Street, Rochdale, OL16 1ZL.


If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me. Please feel free to share with partners.


Referral Form

Active Living Online Session Guide

Gentle Exercise Courses

This 10 week course is free thanks to township funding. The class will provide activities which promote postural stability and balance to assist greater independence and reduce the risk of falls in the future.

Gentle Exercise Classes

The Gentle Exercise classes take place weekly at Link4Life venues across the Rochdale Borough. The classes will provide activities which promote postural stability and balance to assist greater independence and reduce the risk of falls in the future.

If you have any further questions and to book one of the limited spaces on the class please contact Paul Gardner.

Photo: Active Living Christmas Party, where we invite all those attending our sessions to come and join in the fun.

The Gentle Exercise classes take place weekly at Link4Life venues across the Rochdale borough. The classes are designed to help people with a variety of long term health conditions strengthen joints and muscles and improve balance and stability.

Photo: Active Living Christmas Party, where we invite all those attending our sessions to come and join in the fun.

If you have any further questions or require more information please contact Paul Gardner.

Link4Life are offering a weekly specialist Back Care Yoga session at Rochdale Leisure Centre to assist you in managing your condition on an everyday basis. The sessions runs every Tuesday 4pm-4.45pm.

If you have any further questions or require more information please contact Paul Gardner.

As recently seen on TV, Walking Football has taken off in the Rochdale Borough - everyone is welcome to come and give it a try. Whether you are returning from injury, want to get fitter or just want to play the game you love again - just at a slower pace.

All our sessions are run by FA qualified coaches, with a mix of games and skill training in a friendly environment.

Venue: Littleborough Sports Centre
Time: 10am-11.30am
Cost: £2.50 (includes tea & coffee)

Venue: Rochdale Leisure Centre
Time: Class 9am-10am & Session 10am-11am
Cost: £1.70

Venue: Littleborough Sports Centre
Time: 10am-11.30am
Cost: £2.50 (includes tea & coffee)

If you have any further questions or require more information please contact Paul Gardner.

Come and join us to relax whilst improving your general health and wellbeing, followed by a cup of tea and a chat. Session is supported by friendly and qualified staff. Dementia friendly. 

No booking required. Cost £2.65 carers are free. 

Venue: Rochdale Leisure Centre, Heywood Sports Village and Middleton Arena 


Pictured are Val Exley, Sue Reed-Roberts and Audrey Simpson, three of the volunteers for the Functional Fitness and Gentle Exercise sessions, who have all been trained in Functional Fitness and moving and handling.

If you are interested in volunteering to help in the healthy lifestyles programme, or have any further questions please contact Paul Gardner.

What should I wear? You should wear loose fitting clothing and flat comfortable shoes or trainers.

What should I bring with me? You should bring a drink of water.

Can I bring someone with me? Yes you can bring along a family member/carer. Just speak to the instructor prior to the class starting.

People with a wide range of long term conditions attend our classes:

  • Mobility and balance issues
  • Back pain
  • Diabetes
  • Lung conditions (Asthma, COPD)
  • Stroke, Parkinson’s Disease, MS
  • Arthritis and mobility problems
  • Cancer
  • And many others

We have seen great improvements made in participant’s health and wellbeing since starting on the classes. Link to stories

Classes are designed to improve: balance, mobility, co-ordination, reactions, quality of life and improve your confidence when carrying out day to, day tasks so that you can maintain independence in your own home.

They can also help with weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight and can help you sleep better.  Our classes can also help you to maintain your independence and introduce you to new friends and enjoy social events throughout the year.

Other benefits include improvements in joint and muscle strength along with improved flexibility, which will make walking and getting out and about much easier.  Regular exercise has even led to a reduction in the use of walking aids, for some of our participants.

Rochdale residents who on purchasing a Link4Life Card on their first visit can access all classes at the reduced cost of £2.50. Classes are free for members of Link4Life.

For those who do not qualify for the Link4Life Extra Card, cost is £3 a session.

Yes. The classes are specifically designed for all levels fitness and abilities. Our qualified instructors will ensure you are signposted to the class that will best fit your individual needs.

The instructor will speak to you before you start the exercises and ask you to work at your own pace and rest if needed at any point.  The classes are low impact and are based around day to day activities i.e. reaching, walking on uneven surfaces and general mobility, all aimed at improving your overall fitness as well as your general wellbeing.

Inspirational stories from the Healthy Lifestyle Programme

Here you can read about real people who participate in the Healthy Lifestyle Programme - all stories are genuine and are by our actual participants.

You`re never too old to keep active

John is 95 years old and is very happy to have reached this age and to be fit and well.

John told me that he always keeps a positive outlook on life and tries to get out of the house as much as possible during the week. He is a regular member of the carers choir in Rochdale and also attends two functional fitness classes at Middleton Arena each week.

John served in the British Pacific Fleet as a naval fighter pilot during WWII and recalls those months at sea fighting the Japanese in Okinawa and Japan.

John says the people and instructors are great and he tells me that a chat after the classes with a cup of tea makes the sessions even more enjoyable.

John is very inspirational to all those who attend and he is proof that  “You`re never too old to keep active”.

Having  attended the exercise at Middleton Arena for over 18 months, he greatly appreciates the company of other older folk and the benefit of the exercise.

Paul Gardner

Picture: John Maybank with Shirley Waller & Paul Gardner

It is difficult, in a few words, to describe how much life has improved for me and many of my friends due to Walking Football. 

I saw a clip on BBC TV, some two and a half years ago, and within minutes I had arranged my first session with Paul Gardner of Link4Life, who had developed it in Rochdale in liaison with Rochdale AFC and other organisations including the Stroke Association.

Two training sessions each week are supported by Keith Hicks, who is Head of the Community Trust at Rochdale AFC and he provides professional coaching from his staff. 

Soon our club was representing our town in local and national competitions and after discussion with Keith, we adopted the club name of Rochdale AFC Strollers (if you wish, you can search our name on ‘Facebook’ to see all details of our activities)

We have entered many tournaments over the last couple of years and managed to win a few, including a recent one at Wigan and a few months ago at the wonderful Macron Stadium, home of Bolton Wanderers.

Steve with his Rochdale AFC teammates at the finals of the peoples FA CupWe have also had some success in the F.A. Peoples Cup, reaching the finals in 2015, and we have also taken part in the Football League national competitions for the last two years.

Again, due to our close relationship with Rochdale AFC we have had the privilege of playing demonstration games at half-time, on the pitch, at Fleetwood’s Highbury  Stadium and Rochdale’s Crown Oil Arena, in front of crowds as large as 6,000. The reception we received from the crowds was amazing!

My health and weight has improved due entirely to my involvement in Walking Football.

All of this is wonderful of course, but maybe the significant issues to me has been the pure joy of playing the beautiful game again, something I thought was lost to me many years ago, and the many close genuine friends I have made through Walking Football. 

I will not be hanging my boots up again, any time soon!

Steve Colesby, aged 71

My walking football journey started in 2015 with an invitation from Paul Gardner at Link4Life to experience the above.

Since starting to play I have gained immeasurable benefit from like-minded individuals who want to re-kindle their enthusiasm for the beautiful game, albeit at a slower pace. Having thought my playing days were over it has given me a second chance to experience the competitive edge of football and given me the opportunity to interact with new individuals and make new friends. Not only has it enhanced my fitness regime but has become an integral part of keeping healthy by increasing stamina,self-confidence and is definitely a stress buster. When I joined little did I realise I would be part of a wider football community, playing under the banner of Rochdale F.C. and experiencing the thrill and prestige of playing both at Rochdale and Fleetwood on a match day in front of a welcoming crowd to showcase the benefits of Walking Football to the over 50's.

A special mention should be made of Keith Hicks and his team of young community coaches from Rochdale F.C. who have supported and encouraged us on our journey, and also Paul Gardner who has arranged for us to compete at National and local tournaments and given us the belief that it doesn't matter how good you are as long as you are willing to try!

In concluding, it is a pleasure to be part of a group of like-minded individuals and anything that challenges social isolation and promotes good health, long term enthusiasm for exercise and friendship, can only be good for our generation of over 50's 60's and even 70's. 

Michael Krylyszyn, aged 63

Catherine Szymanskyj suffers from EDS a hypermobility syndrome, which means she often has dislocations of all joints on a regular basis, also issues with increased heart rate, temperature regulation and is also a wheelchair user.

Two years ago Catherine along with Elaine Stott, the Active4Life coordinator at Link4Life, and Catherine’s physiotherapist  put  together an exercise programme and a plan of how best to support Catherine in the future.

Catherine firstly completed a functional fitness course to help strengthen joints and muscles, and since then has not looked back. Following this course, Catherine volunteered to provide support for the instructor and other participants on the next course Link4Life ran.

During this time of volunteering Catherine also started to attend the gentle exercise classes at Rochdale Leisure Centre as a participant herself. She found at the class that working on the gym balls was something that was massively beneficial to her, helping with her cardio work and also core strength, but also did not cause her any injuries, and that this would be also beneficial to other participants that we worked with in our classes.

Catherine completed her Chair Based Exercise training and started to teach a Balance Ball session for us on a Monday at Rochdale. This class has gone on to be very popular and therefore an extra session has been established now on Thursdays. The attendees to these classes have various long term conditions, neurological problems and in some case quite severe mobility issues, so the class is very beneficial to them and also they get extra motivation from Catherine teaching the class.

Catherine is now successfully completed her Level 2 Gym Instructor Course and is now on the  Level 3 Exercise Referral Qualifications. She has passed all her course work with marks at 100% and has been on the cross trainer herself in the gym for 2 mins, which 2 years ago I don’t think anyone would have thought would have been possible.

Catherine blogs about her training, her sessions and work with Link4Life and passes this information on through the HMSA charity that she helps with, to promote to other people with the same conditions as her that exercise is possible. Also to spread the message that there is something out there for everyone, that you just need to find it, persevere, and you can do things that you really didn't think were possible.

Catherine now says that as a result of her exercise programme, her heart rate has lowered meaning less medication, she has lost weight, she has stronger muscles which help to support her weak joints better, and best of all, she has found a job she loves where she can hopefully help others to find a way to exercise. She adds "none of this would have been possible without an amazing team who saw my exercising abilities rather than my disabilities, and supported me all the way!".  

She is an inspiration to us all!


At the age of 86 Norman Whiteworth was suffering from sciatica and shortly after this diagnosis Norman suffered a stroke.

Most people would have stopped exercising at this point, but not Norman. Following his initial physiotherapy for his stroke, Norman began a daily exercise routine of simple muscle and strengthening exercises he did at home every morning for 15 mins.

This routine has now become a habit and four years later at the age of 90, Norman continues his daily routine and also attends a Functional Fitness class at the Middleton Arena run by Link4Life every week.

The benefits for Norman have been that he no longer suffers from sciatica; he has also made many new friends at the class at the Middleton Arena and really enjoys the social side of meeting people at the sessions.

Norman story is very inspirational, at the age of 90 he shows no signs of slowing down. Norman recommends daily easy exercise even if it is just for 10 minute for everyone. He also says that getting out of the house and attending a class a week gets you into a routine, improves your mood and helps keep you fit.

For more information about the class Norman attends or any of Link4Life`s Active Living sessions, please contact Paul Gardner -  Programme Manager Health & Wellbeing on 01706 926235.

After many operations, I was desperately wanted to get to an exercise class. I was offered a place at the Middleton Arena at one of Link4Lifes Active Living classes. I was so please and joined a welcoming group, led by qualified instructors.

The class contains both ladies and gents of all ages and abilities, all of whom trying to better their health and wellbeing, via the gentle exercise classes.  You can do exercises at home, but joining the class is much more enjoyable, with music, smiles and laughter!

My advice would be to come along and join one of the many Active Living classes run across the Rochdale Borough.

For more information about the class Muriel attends, or any of Link4Life`s Active Living sessions, please contact Paul Gardner -  Programme Manager Health & Wellbeing on 01706 926235.

Hello from Tony and Cath!

My wife Cath is a diabetic and is also asthmatic. I myself suffer from arthritis in the hip, back and knees. Since starting to attend Link4Lifes Active Living class at the Middleton Arena we have both benefited from them, not only physically but mentally.

We have met a range of different people at the classes, who all have different needs. Elaine the instructor makes the classes so enjoyable and we all have a great laugh along with the exercise.

We would recommend the classes to everyone.


For more information about the class Tony and Cath attends, or any of Link4Life`s Active Living sessions, please contact Paul Gardner -  Programme Manager Health & Wellbeing on 01706 926235.



Paul Gardner
Programming Manager Health & Wellbeing
Telephone: 01706 926235
Mobile: 07890 250655
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.