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Imagine a studio in 2004 at the El Camino YMCA filled with tiny dancers wiggling joyously as their hair bounces wildly to the beat of the music. With smiles beaming on their six-year-old faces, they giggle while holding hands and twirling in circles. To the side is another beautiful, highly active child. This child is different. She has yet to learn how to talk, loud sounds make her prone to outbursts, and rather than controlled little arms, they often flail, accidentally hitting some of the other children. Integrating this precious child is a challenge, for in the eyes of the others, she is not like them. But as the weeks progress, the children begin to see her as one of their own, one to protect and love. The child’s mom looked on and wished all children like hers could have an experience like this—an experience where they feel cared for, accepted, and free. Oh, the beauty of childhood innocence when looking beyond the visual and embracing not just the person, but the soul.

Today there is a space where young and old alike gather to experience the same joy of movement to music with no judgment, no criticism, and no fear. All levels learn at their own pace and are given the freedom to express themselves with no preconceived idea for perfection. This all-inclusive setting has parents dancing with their child with special needs alongside those labeled “normal.” All feel welcomed, included, and safe. This is pure magic—this is Dance for All.

In 2014, Teresa Maldonado Marchok and Mercy Forde, both fitness instructors, teamed up to create this delightful program. As fitness enthusiasts, they know firsthand how important physical activity is for everybody, no matter what age. As mothers to special needs children, they found it difficult to find classes for their children that were not separate from the community because of their challenges. Their children, just like all children, brimming with equal capability. All they needed was an opportunity to participate. And so, Dance for All was born.

The dance class is run similar to other fitness classes, with Teresa and Mercy demonstrating and instructing a variety of movements and techniques that develop and improve core strength, flexibility, and balance. Students not only learn current dance moves in rhythm with the latest music, but there’s also Pilates mat work, and a closing meditation that allows all to center themselves before leaving the studio. Participants are not only welcome but encouraged to interpret the moves as the music flows. Though they might not all be synchronized, they are all united in spirit and fun.

The program’s mission is “Connecting the Community through Movement,” and this inclusive class allows the unique twofold beauty of the program to shine. First, Dance for All gives the special needs participant the tools to conduct themselves in a movement class, thus enabling integration into other classes as well as a sense of belonging to society as a whole. Second, the class creates a fun environment for the typical fitness participant to learn more about and interact with this precious sub-set. Despite initial perceived differences in thought process and language, the typical student begins to see that each member of the class has dreams and desires, just like anyone.

Dance for All is celebrating its fifth anniversary. What started as a dream has morphed into a beautiful weekly event and a studio packed with participants. Whether dancers come alone or with their children, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

Margie Pfister, who attends class with her adult daughter Ellen, summed up their experience, which many can relate to.   “Amidst the ups and downs of our days, Dance for All has been a positive welcoming spot from the moment we entered the class and are greeted by name.

Through the warm-ups, dance, and cool-down, my daughter and I are inspired to be our best as we encourage others to do as well. With the positive music, and Teresa’s and Mercy’s kind encouragement, we not only feel a sense of belonging, but our posture has improved in our daily activities. By the end of class, we feel a sense of accomplishment, have met new friends, and this world feels like a better place, and we feel better in it.”


As for that bright-eyed child in that dance class so long ago, she is Teresa’s twenty-year-old daughter, Katelyn, and I was privileged to be her dance teacher. Today, she takes all kinds of classes at the YMCA and is a joy to watch as her face still beams while dancing. How fortunate is our community to embrace such a program where students come together as equals and friends. Just as Margie said, this experience makes the world feel like a better place, and all feel better in it.

 

If you want to participate in a joyful experience, come check out Dance for All every Saturday from 1:00-2:00 pm at the El Camino YMCA/ 2400 Grant Road, Mt. View. Ages 8-88 gather in the multipurpose room and unite to elevate awareness, promote community acceptance and just have fun.

 

 

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Written by Jackie Madden Haugh

Critically acclaimed published author, former columnist for The Los Altos Town Crier,  realtor, dance instructor, devoted mom and grandma…and a dear friend.

 

 

 

 

 

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Written by Jackie Madden Haugh

 

Critically acclaimed published author, former columnist for

The Los Altos Town Crier, realtor, dance instructor, devoted mom and grandma…and a dear friend.

Osteoporosis Awareness Month is in May and I wanted to give you plenty of notice for my workshops in the area.  I provide ongoing support as an educator for American Bone Health to increase community awareness of strategies that promote safety and improve bone health

Freedom from Fractures Presentation in Mountain View, CA
When: Wed. May 2 at 7pm
Where: 2500 Grant Rd at El Camino Hospital
Main Conference Room F/G
Cost: free

Freedom from Fractures Presentation in Palo Alto, CA 
When: Friday, May 4, 1 to 2:30pm
Where: “Avenidas” at Cubberley Community Center
4000 Middlefield Road Building I, 2nd floor
Cost: Free
To register call 650-289-5400 visit us online at the Avenidas website.   Here is a direct link to registration:  Class number 5808 – Register here

Cultivate your strength and balance in under 3 minutes with this new fun and challenging standing kitchen counter series.  Try it first without the resistance band, and when comfortable, add the resistance loop for greater challenge.  Safe for those with back issues and osteoporosis. If you don’t have a loop, tie a resistance band around your thighs.

Batch one of preorders ready to ship. More tomorrow.  
So excited and proud of this new BoneSmart Pilates Aging Strong Vol 2 DVD!  Two 25min full body workouts to fit into your busy schedule, a posture coaching segment and a bone building stomping easy to follow authentic Flamenco dance!
 
Available for purchase at BoneSmartPilates.com
Free US domestic shipping for followers of this blog with the code freeship
 
If you, your mom or dad would like to weave in some hip and leg strengthening while getting in and out of a chair, watch a short video below of my mom as I cue her in this process.

What do we know for sure?
Resistance exercise stimulates not only muscle but bone formation.

How?
When you do resistance training that’s more intense than what your muscles come to expect (like lifting more than your purse), the tendons that attach muscle to bone, pull on your bones stimulating the bones to respond. Depending on your age and the workouts, “it can either increase or maintain bone mass density” according to Steven Hawkins, PhD, professor of exercise science at California Lutheran University.

Which is Better-Weights or Bands?
Resistance training in all forms is good for our bones and in one Connecticut study, it didn’t seem to matter whether you used weights or bands, they all produced positive results for bone in general. Evidence by a recent a study in Taiwan of women over 60 y/o doing resistance band training for 40 min 3x/wk for 12 weeks demonstrated that elastic resistance band exercise resulted in increased bone mineral density.

Lots of Options
There are many options out there to increase strength such as: machines at the gym, dumbbells, your own body weight and resistance bands.  In my BoneSmart Pilates® Osteoporosis and Aging Strong DVD’s, I chose to use resistance bands versus weights to build muscle and bone strength for a simple reason. Bands are lightweight and portable (so you can travel with them) and they’re inexpensive compared to gym equipment.

What is weight bearing exercise?
Weight bearing exercise is exercise in which you are supporting your own body weight through your feet and legs or hands and arms. Weight bearing exercise is proven to be essential for maintaining and building bone. When we combine standing weight bearing exercise with resistance band training, we challenge our balance, agility and coordination-key components for preventing falls. Falling is a concern for us as we age, including those of us with osteopenia or osteoporosis. Remember that 1 of 2 women over 50 will have an osteoporosis related fracture in their lifetime (NOF) and most of those fractures result from falls.

It’s important to note that after we hit 30, our biological balance of bone building and bone breakdown tips towards bone loss. If you’re sedentary and not getting adequate weight bearing and resistance exercise, your bones will pay. Add to that the arrival of menopause, where a drop in estrogen causes a big drop in bone density and you have a recipe of swiss cheese for bones.

The good news is, studies show during post menopause that with just 2 resistance workouts per week, we can slow down or even halt our bone loss. As we age we need to be vigilant about our overall health in general and our bone health in particular.

My BoneSmart Pilates Aging Strong series targets areas of decline as we age – including hip and leg strength, spine strength, bone strength and balance. The workouts in all my DVD’s capitalize on resistance to build muscle and bone strength. With my researched approach as a physical therapist, “Movement becomes your Medicine”.  The workouts are designed to be safe for people with osteoporosis, herniated discs, chronic pain or general back and joint issues.

The BoneSmart Pilates® Aging Strong Enhanced Prop Bundle that accompanies my Aging Strong Pilates DVD’s includes among other things:

  • 3 resistance bands of varied strength, for increasing upper and lower body strength (and flexibility) These 5 foot long resistance bands are low-protein and powder-free, reducing skin irritation and making them ideal for sensitive users.
  • 2 resistance ankle loops of light and stronger resistance. These smaller cousins of the long bands pack quite a workout for your hips and legs and because you’re not tying a long band around your ankles, there’s no risk of tripping on a loose end that could come undone.

To summarize, Bands do Build Bone. I still include hand weights and Pilates machines like the Reformer and Cadillac for my studio clients for interest and variety but there’s nothing like putting your bands and loops in a zip lock bag, slipping that into your purse and having your workout with you wherever you go!

 

 

 

 

 

  

I was honored to present at the 23rd Annual Health Living Retreat for Women sponsored by the Stanford Health Improvement program which is part of the School of Medicine. My workshop entitled BoneSmart: Movement Strategies to improve Posture, Balance and Bone Strength was attended by an enthusiastic audience of Stanford Alumni who are interested in aging strong.

My sister Mercedes flew from New York to serve as my right hand assistant. We enjoyed engaging conversations with many of the alum and took advantage of the beautiful surroundings at Fallen Leaf Lake. Amidst much laughter we hiked, kayaked, and ate healthily and abundantly!

It is a privilege to be able to give participants the ability to change the course of their lives through BoneSmart Pilates workshops.

Enjoy the video highlights above. I had so much fun sharing with this lively, smart and inquisitive group of women. If you know of a group that would like to host this workshop, please contact me by replying to this email.

Description of my BoneSmart Workshop below.

“1 in 2 women over 50 will experience an osteoporosis related fracture in their lifetime (NOF 2005) Despite common misconceptions, this is not just a concern for the elderly. This workshop will provide an overview of the scientific research and current guidelines to improve your bone density and decrease your fracture risk. Learn 5 simple strategies you can apply right away to improve your muscle and bone strength, posture and balance.”

link to featured video for April

You asked.   We listened! 

Our new and updated spacious Prop Bundle Bag now holds not only all your BoneSmart Pilates props but also a mat if you have one. Includes a convenient outer pocket for smaller items like toiletries, a book or iPad. You can win one of these terrific bags filled with goodies this month!

To win this prop bag, please forward this email to a friend or acquaintance of yours who might be interested in joining the BoneSmart Pilates® community! Just click below

Prop bag contains

  • 2 half tennis balls for a soothing foot massage,
  • Long resistance band for strengthening and stretching exercises (your choice of light, medium or heavy resistance)
  • Ankle resistance loop to tone your hips and legs (choose from light or medium strength)
  • A bead filled moldable hot/cold pack to soothe aches wherever needed-bundle (bundle valued at $45, mat not included)

BoneSmart Pilates is more than an exercise system. BoneSmart Pilates is a way of life to help you age strong in a supportive community and avoid the common pitfalls encountered with aging.

You will receive one entry in our drawing for every friend that you forward this email to.  We hate spam as much as you and we promise we do not share or sell our email list.

As a professional dancer in NYC with Martha Graham, Pilates was the buzzword for injury prevention and building functional strength and core stability. Taking a recommendation from friends, I sought out training with one of the Pilates elders “Robert Fitzgerald”.  It was 1989, a hot, humid day. His studio, also his living quarters, was on the upper west side of Manhattan. As I entered the studio with all this Pilates equipment that resembled torture devices, I was greeted with Robert’s warm smile and embrace.

I will never forget my first time doing leg circles on the Reformer and thinking  A) how good it felt, and B) how much it replicated a certain move we do in dance. I discovered so many similarities between Pilates exercises and the Martha Graham technique, which is the core vocabulary of the Martha Graham Dance company. It helped me avoid injury and definitely improved my performance.  I took class with Robert regularly and at any given session, he’d have 4-5 people there, many of them luminaries from theater and dance, entering at different times overlapping each other. We all knew our warm ups and he’d offer suggestions and corrections as he supervised our workouts. We were very independent.  I felt stronger than ever!

Here’s a sneak peak into one of my Aging Strong Pilates Workshops.    I have conducted these workshops across the United States to ensure women are aware of the risks of osteoporosis and osteopenia, and to assist women in maintaining and regaining bone strength.     If you’d like more information about a Aging Strong Pilates workshop for your group or conference, please contact me.