Founder of pioneering exercise club receives top Prime Minister's award

Harris Frazer, who has Parkinson’s, started an exercise club in his home city of Manchester to help other people who are being treated for neurological conditions


A Manchester man has been awarded the Prime Minister’s Points of Light award for creating a pioneering exercise club that aims to help slow  down the progression of neurological conditions.

Harris Frazer, 68, won the award, which recognises an “outstanding” individual every day for “making a positive change within their community” for his role in founding the Neuro Kinetics Club

The club, the first of its kind in Manchester, offers people with a range of neurological conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, MS and dementia, twice-weekly exercise sessions with trained specialists.

Harris told the JC that the classes were designed to be fun, yet challenging: “There’s a lot of tapping your feet, movement, boxing, hand-eye coordination, flexibility challenges, memory games and other creative exercises designed to accommodate a variety of neurological conditions.”

The classes take place at Manchester Maccabi Community & Sports Club from Monday to Thursday, and there are separate sessions for men and women.

Frazer, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of 55, said: “It’s become a very enjoyable and relaxed atmosphere, full of lovely people, goodwill and support. Not to mention that we have seen it provide amazing benefits to people.”

Unlike mainstream gyms, the Neuro Kinetics Club has between four and five knowledgeable volunteer specialists on hand to engage and guide attendees.

Harris, who is the former president of the Prestwich Hebrew Congregation, also known as The Shrubberies, and has been heavily involved in Shabbat UK, said he joined an exercise class after learning that regular exercise could help slow down the progression of conditions like his.

But during the pandemic, the classes had to stop and were later relocated.

Wanting to continue exercising, while also helping others, Harris was inspired to launch the club shortly after lockdown.

It has grown quickly and now attracts nearly 20 regular attendees and a number of volunteer specialists.

Harris was nominated for the award by his son, Mark, director of communications for Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.

Asked what it felt like to be recognised with the award, responding with characteristic good humour, Harris said: “Has the prime minister not got anything better do with his time? Recognised? The guy has never seen me. I got a certificate and a letter from Downing Street, which the cat probably wrote, but still, it is nice to be acknowledged in this way.”

More seriously, he added: “I must also recognise the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to make such a club possible, from my wife, Debra, to all the volunteers and trainers, who have given unsparingly of their time and know-how to this venture.”

A recent article in Medical News Today stated: “Not only can exercise reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, such as dementia and Parkinson’s, but it might also slow the progress of these diseases after diagnosis.”

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