The Shift the work-life balance project is a project funded by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation.

Evidence shows that people who work shift work or hours outside of nine to five have a higher incidence of experiencing gambling harm due to social isolation and barriers.

People who work shift work or hours outside of nine to five find committing to regular community activities hard.

In addition, if you live in a smaller community, the travel time to and from community activities may be a barrier to attend, creating social isolation.

The Shift the work-life balance project is looking to find out what people in South Gippsland would like to do if there were no barriers.

The project then will facilitate ways to deliver these activities to the community.

In Mirboo North, there is a group addressing these barriers Boofiit

BooFiit is the volunteer facilitator of a community-run fitness and wellbeing program.

Volunteer facilitator, Stacey Harriage, explains that the program holds various group fitness classes on a timetable each week, with members joining as members or participants can come for casual classes. 

"We have a variety of classes on a timetable every week, and members can join as members, or they can come for casual classes. And there's a range of classes from high-intensity weight training to low impact classes like yoga and Pilates," Stacey said.

"I grew up in the Latrobe Valley and had access to gym facilities and really enjoyed group fitness classes. And obviously, that was not really an option in Mirboo North. You could drive 40 minutes either way and come to a gym. But doing something from home or in my home community was what I wanted to do. I got a trainer who was willing to come up twice a week for six weeks to do a mini boot camp," she said.

"And we had a fair bit of interest in that. It kind of just grew from there."

"We kept going and adding more trainers and more classes to the timetable. At the moment, we're up to about 13 classes per week with seven trainers facilitating those classes."

"Most of the trainers are really good at giving variations and regressions and options for people based on their abilities, their fitness level, people have injuries. The trainers are really good at giving options even in some of those high-impact or weights based classes. But also, there's Pilates yoga bare, core, there are a few other classes that are more low impact and low intensity, Stacey Harriage said

The wife of a local dairy farmer, Mrs. Trudy Murphy, goes to BooFiit on a Monday night, participating in dance class, followed by Flow afterward.

"Dance's cardio, and so you get your heart rate up. Flow is a great way of stretching afterward and finishing off the session. It's really great," Mrs. Murphy said.

"The BooFitt experience has been really positive. It's made me carve out time for myself. It's allowed me to meet new people in a community which I didn't know anyone before. And I felt really welcomed and accepted in it, and it's just opened up another world in the way I see the area," she said.

BooFiit, it uses the GymCatch app to access memberships and book classes.

There are three different term memberships available of BooFiit;

ultimate membership that accesses all classes on the BooFiit timetable,

Be Well membership that allows members to access low-impact wellness classes, and

Mid-morning child-friendly class membership.

You can also purchase casual class memberships for one-off classes, or a five or 10 class pass to receive a discount on casual membership.

There are many different flexible options for everyone to join in BooFiit.

BooFiit has run a couple of challenges over the last 12 months, Volunteer facilitator Stacey Harriage explained.

"You don't necessarily have to be a BooFiit member to participate in the challenges. But we've had two in the last 12 months," Stacey said.

Melissa O'Sullivan (Lis), a clinical nutritionist and BooFiit member, runs a healthy habits challenge.

Melissa created the healthy habits challenge because her studies got put on hold due to Covid wanting to keep current and engaging in something.

The Healthy Habits challenge extended beyond the BooFitt community, with an additional ten people joining from outside Mirboo North.

The challenge help people put into place some new habits every day for six weeks.

"Things like eating whole foods, drinking enough water, minimizing their coffee and alcohol intake, making sure they get lots of sleep, self-care and exercise," Melissa explained.

"Helping people change not just for the challenge of six weeks but transitioning that into long-term habits to improve their health," Melissa said.

"Coming from the city and having everything on my fingertips, going to Crossfit or yoga or a gym," she said.

"Coming to a small town, I thought it was sort of the netball and footy club, and that was my options. But having BooFiit, I mean we've got Barre classes and Pilates, and we've got yoga, weights, all sorts like it's an amazing opportunity."

"BooFiit's been my saving grace really moving to a country town.”

“It's provided me with connections, lots of other mums. Flynn (Melissa's young son) can hang out with little kids as well. We always go for a coffee afterward after class. So yeah, just that social aspect of BooFiit has definitely helped me make friends and connections in the town."

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