A bit over two years ago, at my wife’s strong suggestion, I went to my first Steady for Life class on Bailey Cove Road. I could tell the year or so she had been going helped her, and she enjoyed the company of her classmates.
I chose the “Rev-it-up” class, thinking her class was too tame for me. I was riding my bicycle 10 miles on the roads a couple of times a week and had been losing weight.
While my wife sat in chairs, which was what I was expecting, I discovered my class all sat on the big exercise balls for part of the balance training. I toppled over twice in my first class. I fell gently and rolled with the flow, so nothing was injured but my pride.
That did not happen but a single other time in another class. Now it is not only surprisingly comfortable, but with legs spread a bit wider, I never get even close to tipping off the ball.
I could not balance on one foot at all, not even for three seconds, much less swing my free leg around. I can do that easily now. It sure does help stepping into my pants in the morning, not needing to hold on to anything but either side of my pants. I don’t worry about falling at 78 years old nearly as much as I once did. I often attend the Holmes Street Methodist Church class because it is so close to my downtown office. It is a very easy class, such that one of our 92-year-old members can navigate the routine nicely. She does sometimes hold onto the back of her chair with one hand on the balance work. Everyone works out with the weights; you just pick the amount you are comfortable with and have at it. I use eight pounds. My wife uses two or three pounds.
I am happy for anyone to read this as living proof that the SFL classes have improved my quality of life, fitness and balance. The friendships I have formed are a great side benefit. The bus trips organized delight my wife and friends, but I just don’t like bus rides. Comes from college memories of long trips on Trailways. Not that the Motor Coaches these days are anything like Trailways. I do like the events organized by SFL and have attended almost all of them. They are helpful, beneficial and interesting. I learn things. You are never too old to stop learning, or keeping yourself in as fit a condition as you can.
— M.D. Smith
Two years ago, after teaching high school seniors for 26 years at Bob Jones High School in Madison, I retired from the classroom, and basically from life.
I told myself as I was filling out all of the retirement papers that I would be starting a new life, but in retrospect, I see that I had no idea how to do that. So I kept doing what I had been doing for the past 26 years – teaching. But I was not in the classroom; I was teaching online classes, and because I could – I was doing that from my bed. My husband would leave for work in the morning, and I would be in the bed. He would return in the evening, and I would often still be in the bed loaded up with my computer, notepads, coffee cup, bottled water, and various evidence of things I had eaten throughout the day. If I needed something from the store, I would call one of my adult children to pick it up for me while they were out and about. I felt productive because, after all, I was still teaching.
But as the months rolled by, my mental, physical, and spiritual health declined, and I became the poster child for the “bedridden.”
That is when my former college roommate and good friend, Jill Chadwick, stepped in and “tricked” me in to coming back to the world of the living. She explained that she was going to start teaching a Move to the Music class and that she was afraid that she would not have any students. She pleaded with me to come to her first month of classes just so she would have 1 student she could count on. Because Jill convinced me that I would be doing her a favor – I went to her class. As I looked around that first night, I realized that most of the people there were about my age and ability level. As the class progressed, I noted that no one was looking at or judging me – we were all focused on the teacher as she made us laugh with her delightful sense of humor and feel confident with her sincere praise. By the time I left class that night, I was already looking forward to the next class. Basically, I was hooked.
After going to Move to the Music classes for a month, Jill causally mentioned that there was a Yoga class that met at the same location and that I might enjoy that as well. She was right. Again, our teacher was kind and very aware that we were “of a certain age.” She took the time to work with us individually and always offered levels of options that would work for our bodies.
Over the past year, I have come to know and love the people in both my classes. I look forward to Tuesday and Thursday mornings because I know that I will see my friends, invigorate and strengthen my body, and enrich my mind and soul – all while having fun! I am still teaching my online classes, but I do that in the afternoons at the kitchen table, and I am stronger, healthier, and happier than I have been in years.
I credit Jill with “saving my life,” and I am happy to tell anyone who will listen to me rave about the benefits of being a part of the Steady for Life program.
We have been participating in Steady for Life since its origination. We have received great guidance by our instructors who are trained, experienced and are fun-makers! Our social life is enhanced by interacting with the friends we’ve made in our classes. Besides our Balance Classes, we enjoy all the other activities available through Steady for Life, also. With 9 locations, there is a class for almost everyone. We are 86 and 87 years old and know that Steady for Life is helping keep us independent, able to drive, shop, attend church, classes and anything else we want to do. We recommend that you get involved, too!
— Paul & Elizabeth
Earlier this year, our student Roz Fellwock set a 5K state record for age 88, at the fundraiser race put on by The Care Center of New Hope (We Run because We Care). In October she walked the CASA of Madison County 5K just 2 days before her 89th birthday and then after her birthday, walked the Kids to Love 5K and set the age 89 state record with even a better time than her age 88 record time.
In post-race conversation with a group of admirers at the latter race about her training regimen, she credited her twice-a-week Steady for Life classes with her success. Roz is an inspiration to us all. She works so hard and makes us all happy to be around her constant cheerfulness. We love her and are very proud of her!
At the age of 84, I hear many comments from friends who have taken part in various programs, both exercise and Physical Therapy. Some tell me their programs are identical (routine) day in and day out; however, Steady for Life continues to mix it up by providing different, up-to-date and challenging programs! I give the entire Steady for Life staff much credit. You have done good!
I have no intention of ever giving up your program for Seniors!
While doing my 5K training walk/jog yesterday, I was saying a silent Thank You to Steady for Life. What I’m about to tell you explains why. It will sound like bragging, and it is, but not about myself. I’m bragging on Steady for Life.
Within a month of when I joined Steady for Life, in late 2014, I did my first 5K race—the Liz Hurley Ribbon Run, with a time of 41:32. That’s a pace of 14:33 minutes per mile. Two years and many races later, in the 5K breast cancer Pink Pumpkin run in Guntersville, I achieved my personal best time of 39:06, for a pace of 12:58 minutes per mile. At ages 83, 84, and 85 I have continued to run, more often than not taking 1st place in my age division (which sometimes starts at 70 or 75), and always at least placing 2nd.
Before you get too impressed, let me remind you that up at my age level, the competition is very thin. Nonetheless, I am competing not just with participants in that particular race, but with every female in Alabama of my age year who has ever run that given distance on a certified course. That means beating the best time on record. I have done that 13 times over these last 5 years, sometimes beating my own record set earlier in a given year.
I said all of that to say this. Had I never enrolled in Steady for Life, I might never have had the courage to try that first 5K, and almost certainly would not have improved in performance over the next few years. We all know, without intervention of some kind, the natural course is for athletic performance to decline with age in the upper years, not get better.
The Steady for Life Rev It Up and other classes were my intervention, and it worked! For several reasons. Being committed to a class schedule provided the discipline I needed to not sluff off from regular exercise. The detectable improvement in strength and balance gave me the motivation I needed to keep going. The body toning and “surprise” weight loss gave me the incentive to develop and maintain healthier eating habits, which of course has its own set of benefits.
These are the reasons that I’m reminded to say silent Thank You’s to Steady for Life during my training sessions. And I haven’t even mentioned the special benefit of the friendships developed among the class members who are all there for the same reason—to improve our lives in our later years by staying as active as we can for as long as we can.
Thank you Steady for Life,
— Jean McCrady
I am just amazed every day of all the things that our instructor, Alan brings to our class! He laughs a lot with us and keeps us moving, with some new methods regularly. We are so lucky to have him for our instructor.
— Mildred, Mt. Zion class