On the way to my EXTEND class this morning I was wondering how people were feeling after the terrible news of the Manchester bombing. Knowing the majority of the class have grand children (and some have great grand children) that they are aunts and have family friends with children, I knew I had to do and say something.
Living alone, as many of the class do, they need time to talk about the news and many need physical comfort. So, half way through the warm up, we held hands and drew ourselves into a close circle. I turned the music off and we put our hands on the shoulders or round those on either side of us and shared a large comforting hug. We shared a short moment of thought, a quiet coming together taking comfort from each other.
The class resumed with happy songs, big moments, hand eye co-ordination and singing!
EXTEND is not just about the exercise, it is about sharing the good and the sad, finding support from each other and leaving the class in a stronger and better frame of mind than when you arrived.
If I look back at my early posters I can see a theme...move more, enjoy the benefits of exercising with friends, exercise your grey cells and find the 'thing' that helps you to keep fit.
After some 17 years my words seem to be holding true as more and more research tells us that exercising with friends is good for your mental health, co-ordination is great for the grey cells and doing 'what you can plus a little bit extra' is a great way to increase your daily physical activity.
The British Gymnastics have launched a new chair based programme for people with dementia, Love to Move, but when I look at my classes I can see that I challenge my members with physical tongue twisters- arms going in one direction legs in the other, remembering routines, phrasing of movements, putting it to the music and interpreting the music. Smiling, laughing and interacting with others. It is impossible to put a smile, laughter or spontaneous singing into a class plan; these things happen when people get together and have fun!
Keeping physically, mentally and socially fit is about doing something you enjoy and this week I saw that in the smiles of 3 ladies who have found the 'thing' they are looking for at my EXTEND and Medau class.
So, as the rain spreads across North London and we huddle in front of our TV's with comfortable mug of tea, think how you can increase our daily activity...you can always pop along to a class and see if it is the thing that 'ticks your box'.
It is Mental Health Awareness Week and it has been shown that dance, movement, exercise, music and being with friends can lift your spirits.
The brain is a complicated thing and our thoughts and feelings are personal and private. It is difficult to share a problem and we all find different ways of coping. Some go for a walk, others take up running, some try Mindfulness and others prefer other types of mental distraction.
Whatever your worries you can be sure that at an exercise class there is always someone who has been there, experienced something similar, they can identify with your worries but most importantly they can help you smile. The music will help to retune your mind into ‘the moment’ and find the chink of happiness that is hiding behind your worries.
Exercise with Tracy and combine dance, music, singing and friendship - give a class a try and you might find it is the thing for you!
Exercise With Tracy
EXTEND Exercise and Medau Movement teacher. Keeping the muscles working, the joints mobile and having fun!