Good morning, fellow seniors.
We are truly fortunate in having as our guest this morning Julie Webster, a good friend and instructor of the Essentrics classes that so many of us attend and benefit from.
Betty: Julie, welcome to Senior Corner. We are all happy to have you with us and the opportunity to learn more about you and your excellent Essentrics exercise program. Please tell us exactly what is Essentrics.
Julie: Thank you, Betty. When I think about Essentrics, I think about elongated movements in all directions or range of motions that we use in daily, functional life. The concept was developed by Miranda Esmonde-White who was a professional ballet dancer. After retiring, she took the concepts of these elongated ballet movements and integrated the idea of Tai Chi, which is all about flow or continual movement rather than holding positions. These dynamic movements engage more of our muscle fibers, muscle chains and helps the layers of fascia to glide more easily, as they did when we were younger and more active. The third component is working with the brain and muscles to engage this neuromuscular relationship to have greater and longer lasting change in the body. All this results in a body that moves more freely, is rebalanced resulting in regained healthy posture, and last but not least helps to regain our balance by re-awakening our nervous system so our body knows better where we are in space. This results in less falling as we age.
Betty: Less falling, as we age, is an exceptionally good thing. Why do you love Essentrics?
Julie: My body feels better than it has in years since doing and teaching Essentrics. I have been a workout junkie my entire life and find with Essentrics I have less pain from old injuries, my flexibility and strength has increased without me even realizing it, and I just naturally sit upright rather than hunched over.
Betty: Why do you enjoy teaching Essentrics?
Julie: I love teaching Essentrics because of all the incredible feedback I get from people that stick to it regularly. Plus, I see how much their bodies improve and change! I also love that we use only our own body to strengthen, rather than an outside force such as a weight. And, of course being barefoot our balance gets better rather quickly.
Betty: Is Essentrics good for the brain?
Julie: Absolutely! We often are doing large, full body movements and continually moving in various directions all at once! It takes a bit at the beginning to feel some of these moves but over time they come more easily if you just are patient! It is these complex movements that engage the brain and connect the body to the brain again.
Betty: Julie, how do you like teaching virtual classes on Zoom versus teaching classes in a studio?
Julie: At first I wasn’t so sure it would work but it has been great! Live classes offer many wonderful components including the connection of music with the movements, direct feedback from me and most importantly the comradery that comes from getting to know like-minded people. We still have a little of this at the beginning of the Zoom class where we check in with each other. Also, I always encourage anyone that is having difficulty to let me know so we can do a short personal Zoom meeting to assist in their positioning or whatever their challenges are. Also, the feedback I’ve been receiving with the virtual classes is that people feel like they are receiving private instruction from me as they can fully see me. When we are in live classes there were times that the room was fairly full, so it wasn’t always as easy to see me. I also find that some people are more regular with the virtual classes as they don’t need to leave their home to go to class.
Betty: How fit do you need to be to do Essentrics?
Julie: One of the other beautiful things about Essentrics is we all work with where we are. I have had people all in the same class from 26 years old to 92 years old -- that’s you Betty! I believe this is possible because we are not adding external forces so the potential for injury is almost non-existent and second, everyone is encouraged to work within their own strengths and limitations. A strong, fit person can work hard as they want while a person just getting back into exercise can move at their level of fitness. That is the beauty of Essentrics. I always emphasize to only take the move to the place that is right for your body not mine. I am incredibly specific about alignment throughout the class to keep everyone in the right position, and generally, I find the people that choose to do Essentrics are there for their own health rather than to be competitive. Perhaps this is why we end up with such an amazing group of people who often become friends. What a great side benefit!
Betty: What would you say the main benefits of Essentrics are?
Julie: Staying mobile and reducing the potential for injury or falls as we age. Decreasing pain that comes from immobility and compression of the joints by continually opening up the body in every possible direction. Increasing energy by using all of our muscles in every workout. Improving posture which will provide you with a greater, more positive sense of self along with requiring less energy to stay upright.
Betty: When are your virtual classes?
Julie: Currently, they are offered Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 8 a.m. These will continue indefinitely and are easy to attend through Zoom. Anyone interested is welcome to contact me directly (Julie@julie-webster.com) and I am happy to give them more details. In addition, as things open up again, we will be able to start offering small, live classes. This, hopefully, will be coming sooner than later!
Betty: Any last thoughts or comments, Julie?
Julie: We live in an instant world where we have learned to expect change to come immediately and therefore give up quickly if we don’t see that instant gratification or if we think it is too ‘hard’. We forget the long journey it took to gradually lose strength, balance, mobility, energy, and start to assume this ‘new’ pain, lack of energy or whatever is part of aging. I don’t buy that and honestly believe we all have the potential to regain health on a physical and emotional level however we need to be patient with ourselves! I encourage students to come regularly for at least 6 months to give their bodies time to move in a positive direction. Those that have been coming for that length of time or longer are the winners and it shows in their outlook, energy, posture and their overall enthusiasm at how Essentrics has changed their lives.
Betty: Thank you, Julie. Very inspirational, as always.
Dear friends, the older we get the more important it becomes to stay in shape. It’s been proven that we will live longer and enjoy it more, if we stay healthy, exercise, eat healthy foods and drink lots of water. Let’s make “Live long and be Happy” our new motto. Good to be with you.
Betty Rhodes is active on the Napa County Commission on Aging, as well as the Senior Advisory Commission. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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