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.
Exercise With Tracy
EXTEND Exercise and Medau Movement teacher. Keeping the muscles working, the joints mobile and having fun!