Guest Blog: Move It or Lose it!
We’re often told we have to exercise more and yet just the word can put people off! But what about the people who would like to exercise but can’t? The ones the fitness magazines with their six-packs and perfectly toned bodies often overlook? Those with disabilities and conditions which make getting out of bed, washed and dressed seem like running a marathon?
I’m used to trying to persuade the ‘reluctant’ to exercise – I was a secondary school PE teacher! Now I’m teaching people who would love to exercise but think they can’t, or have problems which prevent them from accessing traditional forms of exercise.
After retraining to teach exercise for older people and those with disabilities, I soon realised that all the theory in the world counts for nothing if people don’t enjoy themselves. Coming along to a class, especially when you’re fearful of what to expect or of doing more harm than good, is a giant leap of faith, so creating an atmosphere of inclusivity and warmth is vital. Then you can start to focus on doing exercises which will help with everyday life.
So, how did it all begin? Well I began to set up classes in the West Midlands for older people and those with health problems. I specialise in chair-based exercise which is ideal for less mobile people as they're still able to join in and improve their fitness. But, key to my success, is making the routines so much fun that they don't even realise they're exercising.
Everyone who came to my classes couldn't believe how much they enjoyed themselves and how much they could improve just by working out in chair! They were desperate to continue the exercises by working out at home too. So, I was persuaded to make a DVD of the exercises. They helped with the choice of music, got involved with the filming and they even came up with the name –Move it or Lose it! It was vital to make the exercise routines safe, enjoyable, effective and accessible to everyone whatever their ability. Our DVDs are made by real people for real people and all endorsed by The Centre for Healthy Ageing Research (at the University of Birmingham).
Despite the success of all 5 of my DVDs and the amazing customer feedback I get, I know nothing can compare to a class! The benefits of working out in a group are end
less - the camaraderie, friendship, motivation and support they all offer one another is fantastic! Each class becomes a little community, which is so lovely to see when all you hear in the press is the loneliness and social isolation that many older adults face in today's society.
I know there's still a desperate need for more classes across the UK, so I've set my sights on spreading the magic of Move it or Lose it! into more local communities. I get countless letters and emails from customers asking where their local classes are. So, with the Centre for Healthy Ageing Research, we're now training more people and translating the latest research ensuring our Chair-based exercise instructors are part of a highly respected network. We're looking for more people who are passionate about helping older adults to stay fit for life! Empathy, humour and patience are all a must! But, it’s the most rewarding job, seeing people who think they can’t do something actually achieve success so they can live life to the full.
Find out more about Move it or Lose it! at www.moveitorloseit.co.uk/careers or call 0800 612 7785.
By Julie Robinson, Move it or Lose it!
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