Margaret Peggie considers FLexercise and the way it fits into our lives over the years.
Exercise at different stages of life
The beauty of the system behind FLexercise classes means that it can carry you through the different stages of life and there are so many teachers who have done just that with the people in their classes over decades. This is because they are able to match and adapt their class plans according to who they teach – part of the magic of FLexercise.
People’s attitudes to the different stages in life are most likely to affect the way in which they think about the place of exercise. For example, when I reached 50, I was so horrified that I decided that if I had to be that age, then I wasn’t going to be fat as well, so I increased the amount of exercise I took (I started running as well as teaching classes) and stopped eating chocolate! Many years later, I now regard exercise as a way of being able to walk faster than the ‘grim reaper’ – as the surgeon put it when extolling the virtues of a hip replacement!
On the whole, women are much more likely to be concerned with the way they look than with their health, especially when that is good and therefore taken for granted. Most young women are in that happy position which means the incentive for exercise for them is more likely to arise from concerns about their weight.
Accepting the fact that some 60-year-olds are more like 20-year-olds and vice versa, let’s take a look at some of the possible priorities through the decades as far as exercise is concerned
Young people are busy with their jobs, perhaps moving away from home, interested in getting out and about, meeting people, having fun, following the latest trends. They’ll be looking for what’s exciting, fashionable and new, including exercise. To be frank, they’re less likely to find a FLexercise class which exactly fits those requirements. Unless of course, they have been keen on dance, particularly ballet, through their growing up. The FLexercise approach is similar, so it feels familiar and enjoyable as a result. Many of the teachers were attracted for this reason.
Let’s face it, the majority of people taking part in group exercise are women – that’s a topic on its own! Women in this age bracket are now beginning to establish more settled lives, starting to have families, finding themselves juggling childcare and work commitments. Having children makes them more aware of health issues, particularly body shape and weight. It also makes them yearn for a small piece of time to themselves! Group exercise classes are less demanding than taking part in organised sport because they don’t have to worry about finding themselves unable to get to a game at the last minute which is going to let others down. They are also more attractive than time alone in a gym because of the social network they provide, a chance to meet and mix with other like-minded people. A specific date in the diary is more of a fixture than a gym which can be visited any time – or not! A FLexercise class begins to look more attractive, especially if there is one near where they live and at a time of day which they can manage
With a bit of luck, there’s a bit more time to spend on themselves. Health, appearance and weight issues start to become a bit more important particularly with the approach of the menopause. Gynaecological problems start to crop up as well as an awareness of osteoporosis and the importance of doing weight-bearing exercise. The classes provide an informal support network for chatting about and sharing experiences.
The clock is ticking. Health issues arise matched with the desire to look and stay young and fit. This is often a time to take stock, to think about work and lifestyle. Children may be leaving home opening up the way for house moves, career changes and even possibly early retirement. There’s a little more time for exercise and maybe a need to make new friends.
Must keep going! Regular exercisers are beginning to value what they have achieved for themselves from going to classes regularly, both physically and socially. Though they are beginning to experience and be frustrated by increasing physical limitations. It’s not too late for new exercisers to join a FLexercise class, especially one which is predominately for their age group.
We have some remarkable women in our classes whose mobility, strength and stamina are a credit to the exercise system! Alongside the exercise, movement and dance that the classes provide, the friendship bonds and social aspects remain as strong as ever – and of course new faces are always welcome!