It is the end of term, a time when teachers reflect on the highs and lows of the year.
Was the music good enough?
Did I introduce enough 'new things?
Was I expecting too much?
Were my expectations too low?
Did people smile enough?
Did I engage with everyone?
BUT - mostly I think about my lovely class participants - the new folk who have just slipped in and joined in and become part of the gang and those who are under the weather and unable to get to class.
Over holidays I will be attending 2 Summer Schools - the first will be with Margaret Morris Movement and then I will be away with Medau Movement. Immersing myself into movement is a good way of absorbing new movements that become the centre of new routines or add an extra ‘thing’ to an existing set of movements,. I have learnt that simply copying someone else’s routines never works, you have to be comfortable with movement which is why no two EXTEND or Medau Movement teachers are the same- we all stamp our own personality on what we do.
The Government have made increasing physical activity a priority, encouraging children and adults alike to get more active more often. In reality we all need to do more but finding the time is an issue. Exercise, like your diet has to be varied and EXTEND and Medau can contribute to a health fitness diet.
Over the past few months some class participants have said some very lovely things which I have called ‘Overheard in Class’. They say word of mouth is the best advertising, so if you fancy trying something different and ‘people centred’ then come along in September and see if my classes ‘tick your box’.
Here are the dates for the summer.
Elm Court class will run into August to 'pay back' classes missed during term time.
A wonderful afternoon celebrating 20 years of delivering EXTEND Exercise with my 2 EXTEND classes with a celebration class and lots of cake!
Thank you to Judy for presenting me with my Gold badge and special thanks to Ann, Alison and Marna for making the long journey to be with me - was quite disconcerting having so many physiotherapists in the class!
Big thanks to my mother in law for tea duty and Louise for cake cutting.
It is impossible to think that way back in 2006 I suggested EXTEND presented Gold Badges to teachers of 20 years for long service and I am very proud and feel very privileged to be a Gold Teacher.
An interesting article, we don't run lift weights or cycle, but we all know and feel the benefits of working to music.
We pick the music to suit the exercise, the tempo to get the body moving, songs to encourage breathing and everyone agrees that a 'good tune' makes it easier and gives us the 'umph' to go that bit further.
We potter and dig, we weed and plant....and then we sit back to admire our hard work.
EXTEND and Medau will not give you green fingers but the class will help with the bending of the knees and leg strength for digging as well as mobility in the shoulders and arms to stretch to deadhead the flowers and pull out the weeds.
While we take delight in the flowers, leaves and ever changing colours knowing we have added to the bio-diversity of the world in which we live we are also helping our own mental health. I am not just jumping on the band-waggon, we have known for many many years that going outside and being active is good for you and how many of us fall into the chair with happy muscles, a smile and sense of satisfaction and accomplishment after a good session in the garden?
Monty Don (Gardeners World) says "By becoming in tune with the seasons of growth and fall, preparation and harvest you make your mind and body happier and healthier. By having a direct stake and involvement with the process of plants growing, of having your hands in the soil and tending it carefully and with love, your world and everyone’s else’s world too, becomes a better place." So, just popping out to see what is growing or if anything needs some tender loving care or to weed, dig or sow seeds these few minutes are enough to reset the mind, reboot the brain and get some fresh air into the lungs.
An hour outside with rolled up sleeves and sun hat is good for us physically and mentally - not forgetting your bones as the NHS website explains that ' for short periods with...forearms, hands or lower legs uncovered and without sunscreen from late March or early April to the end of September, especially from 11am to 3pm is an investment in your bones
So, take some of your housework outside and like Danny Kaye in the Court Jester and get better doing nothing!
Stay off your feet for a few days- is that really sound medical advice? Under normal circumstances we wouldn't think so but a very sore foot has made walking painful. Hence, chair rest.
But, as I teach exercise to the older person I can still remain active - can't I?
Medical science tells us to get up and move, that 'people who were physically inactive and sat for more than eight hours a day, had a 107 percent higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. This is compared to those who did at least one hour of physical activity per day and sat for less than four hours per day.'
The trouble is, when you start measuring your active time vs sitting you can be made to feel guilty for sitting watching a TV programme so you find yourself pacing the room, marching on the spot and running unnecessarily up and down the stairs.
The NHS says that 'To reduce our risk of ill health from inactivity, we are advised to exercise regularly – at least 150 minutes a week – and reduce sitting time.' and the original EXTEND Anatomy, Physiology and Kinesiology Book explains that moving is essential for the proper functioning of the internal organs.
While we all want to live longer, healthier lives we mustn't injure ourselves in the process, so walking miles upon miles, doing extra sessions at the gym may not be the answer. These extra minutes can be found pottering about in the garden, doing the housework or going shopping, simple everyday opportunities to get up and get moving.
For the historians, the motto of the Women's League of Health and Beauty, from which EXTEND grew was ‘Movement is Life’. We seem to have come full circle!
Rest, we all need to rest.
I have been told to rest my foot as I managed to over exercise a metatarsal joint! No idea why or how, the podiatrist said it I was doing just too much. I suppose trying to do 10,000 steps a day and having 50% of my time ‘active’ was unrealistic! Thankfully, this happened just as we broke up for the Easter break. My Fitbit is not happy, no green screens saying congratulations you have stepped your steps, but it doesn’t matter as my bones are more important than electronic rewards!
Talking of podiatrists, did you know May was Podiatry Awareness Month so please make an appointment and get your feet bio-mechanically checked!
Rest is just as important as exercise as it gives time for your muscles, nerves, bones, and connective tissue time to rebuild.
Every time you work your muscles, stretch that bit further or put a bit more effort into it you create microscopic tears in your muscles. These are not the same ‘tears’ as when you strain, sprain or pull a muscle but these small tears are part of the muscle building process. The body uses protein to repair the muscle so it is stronger than before. This is why I tell my class members to have some protein after class a tuna or chicken sandwich or an egg.
Rest gives time for inflammation to reduce, for the ligaments and tendons and the cartilage that covers the ends of the bones to recover.
But, it takes about 2 weeks of non-activity before your muscles start to lose strength etc, which is why going out and about, doing the garden, visiting friends or walking round the park is more than enough to keep the muscles in tip top condition and ready for class. I have been digging the garden,
But rest is more than allowing the muscles to build strength and aches and pains to subside, it is a time for the whole body to completely relax for seeing friends as well as dental and doctor appointments. I have squeezed so many meetings and appointments into my 2 weeks I need a holiday!
On Wednesday I visited the Archway and District Carers' Group who offers help, support and information to informal Carers (who are caring for disabled family members, partners or friends), a place to go and rest, where people, who become friends, share thoughts and ideas, laughter and tears with other Carers in a similar situation. The group is run by a volunteer, who organises speakers, exercise sessions, massage, and occasional teatime outings. They are an inclusive group, meaning that no-one is turned away. I did not know who would be there so with my bag of bean bags and assorted music I delivered a session that made everyone forget their worries, aches and pains and at the end everyone commented on how easy it would be to incorporate a few exercises into their day. We had such a giggle as getting it wrong is always part of the class plan.
So, however you are spending your Easter break and bank holiday weekend, have a restful one, recharge your batteries , see friends, get out and about and be ready and invigorated for a new term.
I look back on my training career with tears, smiles and laughs. Tears for those who are no longer with us; smiles for those who went on to deliver in their places of work or classes in halls and community centres, starting a career they may have only dreamt of; and laughs from arm and leg tongue twisters and enjoyable silliness.
As an anatomy and physiology tutor, my ‘job’ was to help people discover the wonders of the body so that when affected by the ageing process and cruel conditions like Parkinson’s and MS, teachers have an idea of what is happening inside and why. Most of our students worked in care or were retired, looking for a second career so it was a huge commitment. Many had not studied since their school days and some had left school with little or no qualifications, so it was a daunting task, but we achieved a 100% pass rate.
The A&P as it was referred to was not an easy course. We studied the body to the old ‘O’ Level standard with input on movement, and muscle work (kinesiology) from physiotherapists as well as input from a geriatrician and dietitian and voice production. By 2004 the tutors agreed that the ‘school text books’ did not have everything an EXTEND teacher needed so Judith Holpin, my Course Director suggested I re-wrote the original EXTEND course book, written by Betty Grey in 1987.
Not having a computer at home, I used to go to my parent’s house, where every day, while the children were at school, I used to work on the text. In late 2004 we bought our first home computer and shut away in the office bedroom I created the 'Anatomy, Physiology and Kinesiology, notes for EXTEND Students' book which was designed to be friendly, easy to read and cheaper than a text book! I could not have done this by myself. I needed a second pair of eyes and the accuracy of an experienced physiotherapist so Gill Curwood, a fellow EXTEND teacher and physio, worked with me and the book was used for the first time in 2005. At the same time Dave Goodacre and i re-vamped the exams so that they were more accessible to everyone, replacing long written answers with multiple choice questions that demanded a broader and more detailed understanding of the body and the benefits of EXTEND Exercise.
While teaching the heart and circulatory system it was quite common for people to declare ‘now I know what is wrong with my dad’s heart’, ‘I understand angina‘ and ‘now I know why my anaemic daughter is so tired all of the time.’ The teaching of the respiratory system usually resulted in at least one person giving up smoking and after delivering the session on the nervous and endocrine system people asked their GPs for thyroid function tests. Most importantly everyone on the course realised that the ageing process was something that happened to everyone and an understanding of the bones, joints, heart and lungs meant they were sympathetic to those with aches and pains without being patronising because they were ‘old’.
I have delivered 19 CPD training days for EXTEND, some with 30 teachers in attendance and some with only 6. We had lectures from physiotherapists on posture, the leg and foot, one physio brought in ‘spare parts’ for hip and knee replacements so we could visualise the metal work working. We had sessions from physiotherapists specialising in Parkinson’s, Stroke and MS, as well as talks on supporting class members with cancer, arthritis, visual impairments and dementia We had a whole body work out with Lishi and an enjoyable morning with my Medau teacher, Vera.
We had apparatus workshops and music workshops and were delighted that Dawn Skelton delivered a session on falls prevention and thera bands. We adapted, created exercises, thought outside the box and most importantly learned from each other’s experiences.
Most of the people I taught to teach are still teaching and have full classes delivering safe exercise to those who might not otherwise enjoy an exercise to music session. Some have retired and others have gone onto other things. For some it was the first step of a new career, for some it was the catalyst for promotion and for others it was a way of giving something back
EXTEND training is just the start of many people’s careers and I was privileged to be at the start of so many.
Way back, on Saturday 22nd May 1999 I qualified as an EXTEND Exercise teacher. Judith Holpin was my Course Director, Marna was the brilliant physio and exam day was overseen by Seona Ross and Anita Best.
And so began my 20 year association with EXTEND and my journey from teacher to Company Secretary, anatomy and physiology tutor and Course Director. From fun classes in church halls to producing an item at the Royal Albert Hall, meeting the Duke of Edinburgh and then becoming Chair of the Movement and Dance Division of the Sport and Recreation Alliance.
On Monday 20th May I will be celebrating 20 years of teaching with my class members and those who set me on my path - promoting health, increasing mobility and independence, improving strength, co-ordination and balance and counteracting loneliness and isolation.
Get into the habit of being physically active. That doesn't mean going to the gym!
Gardening, walking, housework, climbing the stairs and even shopping helps to keep the heart healthy, bones and muscles strong.
Exercise With Tracy
EXTEND Exercise and Medau Movement teacher. Keeping the muscles working, the joints mobile and having fun!