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“Mary” and her reluctance to improve her senior fitness

April 13, 2012

At one of the senior centers where I teach my once a month program, I managed to get a reluctant  67 year old visitor to the center,  let’s call her Mary,  to participate in the class.

She was hesitant at first saying her balance was  bad and she felt she would not be able to do any of the stretches since her shoulders and upper back almost always hurt.  I mentioned she could just watch and participate where she could, and to do just as much as her body would allow.

She ended up doing all the exercises and mentioned after, with a smile that her back and shoulders felt looser.   She asked when I would be back at which time I suggested she come to a new class I was starting at the center which would be once a week.  I also needed to tell her that is a was a fee based class, not free like the one she just took.  Her reply:  well, we’ll see what happens.

Surprisingly she did come to the fist night of the new class. Her expression all the way though was one of skepticism as we went though the exercises and balance movements.  After the class I asked if she was intrigued enough to come back.  I got a “we’ll see, I normally don’t go for this kind of thing” answer.

This past week Mary showed up again, with new sneakers and a smile.  I asked what brought her back.  She said “I did the minimum I could do of  the homework exercises you gave me and I noticed a difference. I felt more stable when I stood how you taught me and my shoulders felt a little better”.  She also mentioned that she talked to a few people about the things I was showing her and teaching and that her friends “agreed” that is sounded good.

She went through the second class and by the end was standing straighter, moving with more control and beginning to understand and “feel” her balance.  And yes, each time I told her what I was noticing she smiled.  Quite the change from the first class, all brought on by noticing the changes that were happening herself.

Now, had I not gotten her up and moving the first visit to the center, she would still be right where she was, and making no strides at improving her  capabilities and increasing her ability to live a more active lifestyle.

How do you approach making changes in yourself or those you care for?  I would love to read your comments and suggestions.

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