Going local – Barbara’s stretch class


When I was first studying to be a PT I thought I’d be the oldest and the least fit in my class. I thought that trainers had to be buff twenty somethings with no body fat, ideally ex-athletes. I quickly learnt that I was wrong, on all counts – it is an industry with great breadth and variety- rightly so as we serve everybody, and every type of body. Let me tell you about Barbara.

When I arrived in Honolulu my lovely host suggested I went along to a stretch class that his friend Barbara runs several mornings a week in the gym in their local condominium. He gave me no more to go on than that.

I was too superstitious to try anything new in the days leading up to the marathon, just in case I pulled something. The day after the race I had the most voracious appetite and had promised myself a gigantic American breakfast, maple syrup flowing freely.

On the next day I went along.

In a lovely room, with the sliding doors drawn back to let the trade winds in, flanked on one side by a little pool and the other by the beach, Barbara led a gentle and thorough routine of stretching and strengthening exercises, using bodyweight, resistance bands and – ingeniously – cardboard tubes, that challenged all of my muscles. There was no place for athletic smugness on my part: my fellow class mates seemed much more bendy than me.

Barbara’s motives are simple – she found herself feeling less flexible, suffering from back pain, and so she researched ways in which she could feel better. She then offered to help her neighbours to do the same. No formal training, that I picked up on, at least. But what she delivered was textbook stuff – I’ve no idea whether it was deliberate, but she taught a class that was utterly in keeping with international (ACSM) standards for the fitness industry. A full body workout, explained and demonstrated clearly, with generosity and humour. She led a little mediation to finish, offering gratitude for where we were on that day. She nailed it.

I would not be so crass as to comment on age, save to say that this 50 year old got to feel like a whippersnapper for a while. I was so grateful to Barbara for that gentle but definite ironing out, at the time I should have been feeling sore.

My lesson from this – when you’re away from home, try going local and sample the exercise on offer where you are. I wouldn’t have missed this experience, but easily could have.

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