There is so much in the news and social media about depression and loneliness but yesterday I was reminded that Mondays are to be looked forward to!
I was invited to give a presentation at the Cherry Lodge Cancer well living day. I have never been in a room with so much positive energy. My 30 minute exercise session just whizzed by and the room was buzzing with laugher, singing and happiness.
Roll onto my afternoon EXTEND class and we presented the Enfield Parkinson's Society with a cheque for £210.00 in memory of our dear friend Pat who passed away in April. A Fitness League member (as it was then) and a founder member of the EXTEND class she brought a smile to class even in the dark days when, despite her strongest attempts to keep active, Parkinson's was making life difficult.
In my 18 years of teaching exercise I have seen the reasons for exercise changing. Way back the ladies (yes ladies) used to go to the Women's League of Health and Beauty for exercise but also for female company during the day. With the housework, children and cooking it was 'their time' to be themselves to make friends as well as enjoy the exercise. Roll onto 1976 the one of the main priorities of an EXTEND class was to make friends and maintain a social life.
Somehow, the social value of classes got over looked as exercise became something you did to keep the doctor happy, to prevent illness, for rehab. It became about Stroke rehabilitation, fall prevention, obesity and 10,000 steps!
Social wellness is not a new buzzword, it is something I, like so many other exercise to music teachers, have been doing every week. Just pop along to any class and you will see what I mean - every teacher will complain that it is impossible to start on time as everyone is chatting - and after all- that is what we want!
"National Fitness Day is a chance to highlight the role physical activity plays across the UK, helping us raise awareness of its importance in helping us lead healthier and active lifestyles.
National Fitness Day sees a huge range of activity options enjoyed by participants of all ages, such as ‘plank offs’, yoga and pilates classes, treadmill challenges, high-street HIIT classes, dance-offs, mass walks and many more."
Planks? Treadmill? HIIT? If that is not your thing then try a Medau Movement class - in fact, one lady said my class was perfect for 'ladies of her age' as the gym was intimidating and no one looked like her!
On Wednesday 26th September we will having our usual Medau Movement class at Elm Court. Those who come to class say that they enjoy it as it gets them out of the house, encourages the whole body to move, gets the muscles and the heart working as well as a good place to make friends. At the end of the session we are running (at a gentle dancers pace) the length of the hall without thinking about it!
National Fitness Day is a great day to promote Medau, EXTEND and any other activity that gets you moving. No time for a class? You do not need to go to the gym to work the body - just a few minutes dancing to your favourite songs in the privacy of your own home every day is enough.
Today the BBC led with a story that a 'WHO report estimates that more than a quarter of people worldwide - 1.4 billion - are not doing enough physical exercise, a figure that has barely improved since 2001.'
I am not really surprised that people find it difficult to increase their daily activity - we all found it easier to sit on the sofa rather than walk round the block in the extreme heat of the summer months and soon the chilling winds, rain and frozen pavements will encourage us into winter hibernation. There needs to be signposts to classes and activities that people can relate to - images of people just like them enjoying exercise that they can enjoy. We all enjoy different things and we all have many different 'boxes' to tick.
So, during National Physical Activity week bring a friend to a Medau or EXTEND class and see if it is 'the something' that ticks their 'box' and gives them 60 minutes of physical activity each week!
'Tell me something I didn't already know' is a constant cry of an EXTEND teacher.
Every now and then a new study that reveals that exercise is good for you - especially exercising to music and in a small friendly group.
A recent article in Multiple Sclerosis Today says that researchers reported that “Movements, whether structured (exercise) or unstructured (physical activity) were deemed meaningful and relevant for living life with MS. Also, it was the ability to integrate physical activity in everyday life activities that gave it prominence,” Click here for the full article
Why isn't this a big surprise?
Every EXTEND teacher has someone with an underlying medical condition - it could be MS, Parkinson's, cancer, stroke...but our classes are designed for those with underlying medical conditions, as well as the naturally ageing body (yes- it happens to everyone).
EXTEND teachers are trained to deliver classes that:
We welcome those who find other classes intimidating, too fast or inappropriate.
The weather is turning autumn is on the way- or so the weather man says.
With the colder weather we tend to stay indoors and do less - who wants to go walking in the rain?
But, you can, according to the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists, work at home to help maintain your leg strength and balance.
Make sure you have the space, sturdy chair and see if 6 simple exercises do make your legs stronger.
BUT please make sure the area in which you are working is safe - take care with rugs, carpets, cats and dogs...slippers and telephone wires - in other words make sure the area is safe so you will not fall, trip or slip!
Remember, you do these exercises at your own risk.
Better still...why not come to a class where we do all of these exercises each week when you can do so much more than 6 exercises to songs you can sing to! Click HERE to go to the Exercise with Tracy Facebook page to see the video.
The Get Up and Go document has some useful information if anyone is worried about falls and trips
How fit are you? Can you sit and stand?
Leg - and thigh- strength is really important and something we work on in every class. Doing as many sit to stand as possible is great but this video does not take knee replacements, sore hips, back issues or breathing into account. I just tried it on 2 different chairs and got 2 different results! The thing to remember is that thigh strength is important and practicing sit to stand is a valuable exercise.
Why? Well, think about how often (and when) you stand and sit. For meals at home and out, coffee mornings, knitting circle, bridge club or book club? On the bus, in and out of the car, the bath and toilet, hair dressers, doctors surgery, dentist chair.
The video shows lots of people doing this in so many ways, but here is something I have used in class. Remember...if you hurt yourself it is not my fault...only try this if you are 100% sure you can do it, that your knees, hips, back, and breathing can cope without too much effort and you have a sturdy chair that will not slip as you sit and stand!
1) Find a clock with a second hand and make sure you can read it. Your phone has a stopwatch.
2) Push a sturdy chair against a wall (to prevent slippage as you sit and stand) - making sure you can see the clock and the chair is completely safe. Uneven floor? Rugs, carpets? Make sure the cat or dog can't get under your feet. This can be quite strenuous so make sure you have your puffer etc to hand just in case you feel a surge of energy and have an Olympic moment and try to break the world record!
3) Stand with the back of your knees touching the chair so your body knows it is there and sit down.
4) Stand up trying not to 'hover' with straight legs and good posture - do not be tempted to cheat and only go half way!
5) Lower yourself back to sitting, if you need to feel the chair with the tips of your fingers when lowering into sitting then do so, but try not to use your hands to push yourself up. Always end seated.
6) Do a few to get the feeling and then move away for a minute or so to let the muscles do something else for a few minutes.
7) When you feel ready, return to the chair and see how long it takes to do 10...or if you prefer how many you can do in 10 seconds.
If you manage 1 a second you should do 10 but if knee or hip replacements, breathing or heart issues make it difficult then don't worry just see how many you can do.
If your number is a bit low then practice by doing a few every day, walk up some stairs (and down again) to strengthen the muscles in your leg, but don't over do one muscle group, be sure to move in all ways every day.
If you think you need to strengthen the muscles and get a bit fitter and mobile but you do not fancy working wth weights or machines, then a general exercise, whole body movement to music class might tickle your fancy. If you are looking for a class but you are too busy enjoying the summer weather then don't worry, pop these dates in your diary and join us in September.
All classes, except the Monday EXTEND class, resume the second week of September:
No Medau class on Wednesday 19th September.
I hope to see you soon.
It is hot, how do I know? The parks are empty and when I stand in the garden I cannot hear the children playing.
While I miss the classes, the ladies, the singing and fun I am so happy we are on summer break as I know that my class members are only too happy to stay in the relative coolness of their homes rather than venture out to class. You know how it is, the air conditioning in the car only kicks in when you reach your destination. Your bottle of water is not as cold as you would like it and then you get home the house is warm and stuffy as the windows and garden door has been locked shut!
Then there is the matter of sleep deprivation. Just how do you get to sleep when every fibre of your body is telling you to go and stand in front of the open fridge? If you decide to keep the bedroom window open then the street light keeps you awake. Someone suggested putting your pillow in the freezer? Has anyone tried this?
So, what do I do? I put glasses of cold water in the fridge (glasses are easier than jugs) and I run cold water over my wrists and to prevent the ever so elegant condition known as 'cankles' and put my feet up and wait for the temperature to drop.
One thing is for sure, we will all enjoy the rain when it decides to fall!
It was the last Medau class of term and we wafted our way into the summer break with large chiffon shawls (1mx1m).
We are a small and very friendly group in a hall that is big enough for us to move with the apparatus without the chance of meeting someone coming the other way. You can work at your own level and each class is a separate unit of movements that may never be repeated again - in that particular order to that particular piece of music. The class has come to appreciate the aesthetics of the movements and the timing of the music, today one lady said 'I can imagine this being done in a large space by lots of people!'
Some people think you have to be fit to join an exercise class but this Medau class is for anyone and anybody - co-ordination is not required and you can wear whatever you are comfortable in.
There is a full page advert in the local Potters Bar Eye so if you want to add some vibrancy to your week, exercise to music that you know without the heavy bass beat and enjoy moving to music - then give this class a try.
Wishing my Potters Bar friends a very happy summer and I am already looking forwards to seeing you all on Wednesday 12th September.
Today was the last Highlands EXTEND class of the term.
While we will all miss our weekly class, the natter and exercise it is important to have a rest - to do something different so we can return with new enthusiasm, rested bones and new stories to share.
But today there was an added concern. The extreme heat has kept many ladies away and while we all enjoy the sunshine it is simply too hot to exercise the way we want to so the summer break could be seen as a blessing in disguise.
With fond farewells we said good bye, wishing each other sunny days and cooler evenings and looking forward to seeing each other again on Tuesday 11th September.
The Monday EXTEND class remembered a dear class member this afternoon as we raised funds in her memory for the local Parkinson's Society group. It was a packed hall with several people from her FLexercise class who wanted to remember their friend.
Sometimes people try to find a class for a specific condition to ease specific issues but as class members will tell you, the most important thing is to move every joint, in every which way and encourage whole body movement so you feel stretched and worked without feeling exhausted. It does not just keep the doctor happy, but it keeps your joints (big and small) happy as well!
Over the years, as an EXTEND teacher and Course Director, I have arranged talks for teachers (CPD days) on numerous subjects from exercising after a cancer diagnosis to stroke, joint replacements and breathing issues. Without exception, every speaker has praised us as teachers as we adapt the class to those in front of us so that no one feels as if they are a special circumstance. The music is really important as it brings everyone together. There have been many times when we all wish we could bottle the atmosphere as everyone is singing and smiling but it is impossible to write a lesson plan to create a positive, vibrant and friendly atmosphere as it something that happens because the music, exercises and the people come together as friends enjoying a social class.
So, while many will say that their EXTEND class is good for their aching joints, their balance and mobility, they all agree that it does wonders for their social life.
This was the last Monday class of term, but if you want to exercise your bodies, brains and singing voices, then pop Monday 17th September in your diaries!
Wishing you a sunny and happy summer break and if you want to try a class then just email me on
Exercise With Tracy
EXTEND Exercise and Medau Movement teacher. Keeping the muscles working, the joints mobile and having fun!