Community Health Groups within Bolton Arena Sports Village

Exercise classes for people with neurological conditions take place at Bolton Arena Sports Village every Monday during school term time.


The sessions alternate between seated exercises to music, seated hockey, hand-eye coordination with bean bags, badminton with a balloon, and strengthening upper body one week, followed by a week of circuits, which are a variety of exercises to help hand-eye coordination and balance.


People taking part, who include stroke patients, and those with conditions such as transverse myelitis (inflammation of the spinal cord), ME, MS, and ataxia to name but a few, are encouraged to do as much as they can.


The classes are run by Bolton Neuro Voices (BNV), a small local charity, that works with five support groups – stroke, ME, MS, Parkinson’s, and motor neurone disease – and also with individuals with rarer conditions to improve their quality of life.


It provides a range of services including links to statutory bodies, information and access to hydrotherapy sessions in the hydro pool at Bolton One, in addition to the Monday classes, to foster mutual support and reduce social isolation.


BNV was conceived by Marie Oxtoby, whose co-authored book, Parkinson’s, is widely regarded as a leading source of information for those living with disease, who through personal experience realised there was little exercise or rehabilitation available for people with neurological conditions in Greater Manchester and set about the rectifying the situation.


Moyra McDermott, from BNV, says: “The exercise class at the Arena has been running about 10 years. Numbers fluctuate and we always welcome interest and new people.


“We just do what we can within our own ability. There is no pressure and people sit, rest, and participate as they wish. What we all agree on is that it does us good physically, and to meet people and socialise. It cheers our spirits and people enjoy coming together for a chat and a laugh.”


Moyra adds: “Whichever class it is, we always encourage people to come and have a couple of taster sessions before enrolling, to see if it is something they could enjoy and participate in.”   


Anyone wanting to take part should meet in the Arena foyer at 10.30am and the class runs 11am-12noon. There is a small charge/donation of £30 for 10 weekly sessions, payable at the start of the first session. Or, for more information, please contact Moyra at


An exercise session specifically for people affected by Parkinson’s disease also takes place at the Arena, run by the Bolton branch of Parkinsons UK. It’s a mix of chair-based and mini-circuit exercises for all abilities including wheelchair users, which runs on Mondays from 12.15pm-1.15pm. There is no charge for the sessions, but they kindly ask for a donation towards branch funds. For more information, please contact Sue Lewthwaite on 01204 562 663 or


Over the past few decades, it has become increasingly clear that physical exercise should be a major component of any treatment therapy for an individual with Parkinson’s disease. This is what prompted the Bolton Branch of Parkinson’s UK to hold suitable exercise classes at Bolton Arena.




Keith’s story


“I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2009 and I have been attending the Bolton Arena exercise classes for people with Parkinson’s since 2010. These past 13 years have taught me to understand the benefits of regular exercise and led me to believe that it is fundamental to slowing down the progression of this disease.


“I have really enjoyed the classes. They help to maintain my mobility, keep me active, and stop my muscles from wasting away due to a lack of use. I found the other people at the sessions were very friendly and welcoming and I have made many new friends over the years.


“The Arena trainers are also very friendly and are on hand to demonstrate the exercises which are mainly seated, but also involve mini-circuits. A particular mention goes to Dianne, the lead trainer since day one. She remains as committed and enthusiastic now as she was when I first met her back in 2013.


“The classes are free to members of the Bolton Branch of Parkinson’s UK. Although we are encouraged to make a small donation to branch funds when attending a class (£3 or thereabouts). I think that the classes are worth every penny.”