A Christmas playlist is as unique as the people in the class and this year my last 3 classes of term have been very special.
The ladies on Monday and Tuesday were in fine form and today at Medau the gymnastic ribbons lifted our spirits and by the smiles on everyone’s faces you might have thought it was Christmas morning!
Christmas is a time for families and friends. Each year, at the EXTEND class we share mince pies and we make a toast to a festive Christmas and a good new year and then we toast our absent friends. We pause, remember them, their smiles and favourite songs but knowing they would not want us to be sad, so we raise our eyes, smile and get on with living! That is what the class is all about - being with friends who become family, sharing special times, laughs and stories as well as being there at the not so easy times.
So, as we move towards Christmas, wishing everyone a very festive break, I shall be sharing some prosecco with my daughter, the cooking with my mum and sister and singing along to all the Christmas songs in the shops.
My goodness me, we have jumped from summer into Christmas – or so it seems! Autumnal leaves look so pretty but can make the pavements slippery and then the early morning frost that is attacking the winter bedding and sending shivers down the spine as we crawl out of bed. But there is plenty to look forward to – getting to know the birds as they dance round the bird feeder and scaring away the squirrels.
It seems like yesterday we were complaining about the heat and now, as I watch the ladies peel off their winter coats and put gloves in pockets, I count back the years I have been teaching. This week it is one of my class members 96th birthday and she still walks the mile to and from class! As the years roll on and the seasons pass you can be sure of one thing – the steady and determined power of women who want to stay fit and remain independent.
Dates for your diary
The last week of term is December 11th. The last class of term are:
Bourne: Monday 11th December
Highlands: Tuesday 12th December
Medau Wednesday 13th December.
Classes resume on Monday 14th January.
Tuesday 15th there is no class as it is the Highlands post Christmas lunch and Wednesday 16th there is no class Medau class as it is the Medau post Christmas lunch.
Everyone seems to be thinking about increasing their physical activity.
This time last year 10,000 steps was the ‘in thing’ but now it is all about doing something you enjoy. However, there are still many adults and children who are physically inactive. There are many reasons for this; lack of places to go, the streets are unsafe, the local green space is too far away or the gym doesn’t offer classes at the right time. Not everyone likes the gym, some prefer to walk, cycle or do their own thing on front of the TV.
Inactivity is killing our children and we demand that every child is given the fundamental #RightToBeActive.
80% of girls and 77% of boys are not active enough to stay healthy and one in five children are classified as obese before they reach secondary school.
Sport and recreation can help solve many of the biggest threats facing our children. Making it part of their daily lives will make them healthier and happier.
That is why I am are proud to be supporting the #RightToBeActive campaign and we encourage you to join us.
Please join the S+RA #RightToBeActive campaign http://ow.ly/DZue30m9Kr9
It is their call to government to give every child the fundamental right to be physically active and they are creating a long-term, properly funded and child-focussed strategy to transform the physical and mental wellbeing of our children.Together we can create a better, healthier and happier future for our children.
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.
Exercise With Tracy
EXTEND Exercise and Medau Movement teacher. Keeping the muscles working, the joints mobile and having fun!