I had the great pleasure of speaking with Lucie Stein about the senior low impact class; its popularity and benefits, as well as her dedication. I will let her tell her story in her own words, because like everything Lucie does, it tells the story best. I just want to introduce this segment of the newletter and tell you what an exceptional phone call we had. Not only did Lucie have answers to all my questions prepared, but because of her exuberance, we wondered off on all sorts of little tangents.
Lucie is the gold standard of volunteers. She puts her life second to the demands of her classes. Winter vacations are not as easily planned when there is a pull for the help she provides her students. She also tries to stay in the background and not garner praise, but yet she is very thankful for the students in her class that volunteer to help her set up and down at the beginning and end of class. She has had 4 surgeries over the last couple of years and is still going strong. Her doctor has told her that the work she does with the seniors in Brockville is noticeable, his patients do much better if they partake in her class rather than not.
During this time of isolation she is looking at options to carry on the class, but as yet has not been able to find a suitable virtual venue.
This woman is unstoppable and the 50+ Activity Centre is very fortunate to benefit from her dedication, enthusiasm and love of humanity. She also suggests that people move out of their comfort zones and volunteer. The rewards are so satisfying.
Following are the questions I had prepared and her answers:
Are you related to the late Lawrence Stein, our benefactor?
Yes, Mr. Stein was my father-in-law.
How long have you been doing this?
I started attending classes through the Shepherd Welcome Centre in 2013 under the leadership of Kay Carlson and Muriel Landeroute. I formally started teaching classes through the CPHC (Community and Primary Health Care) in 2014, and here at the centre in 2015.
What do you do to prep for your classes?
Through the summer I usually spend several hours a week looking at exercise videos and routines on YouTube. I try to find new exercises to ensure we get the most benefit out of our time together in class. As well, I search for music to use in the classes. Finding music that offers a good beat that isn’t too fast or too slow can be challenging. To create one class routine usually takes me about 8 hours. To keep things fun and interesting I insert Halloween, Irish and Christmas routines to keep in line with the time of year. I reuse routines through the year. Once the season has started, it’s usually a couple of hours a week practicing routines and fine tuning for the classes.
When creating a routine, I try to keep in mind the many restrictions and limitations of the individuals attending the classes. Some participants are quite active, while others have experienced challenges in their lives. I do my best to offer alternative options to exercises such as sitting to do the routine, or shortening their movements to avoid stressing their muscles. It definitely is not a one size fits all type of program.
Did you have any formal training?
Yes, I did complete a certification program sponsored by the CPHC in 2015. The program was offered through Western University and taught me how to design and lead effective fitness classes for community dwelling older adults. Having said that, I do remind my participants that I am not a doctor or physio therapist, but simply a volunteer.
What motivated you to become a 50+ Activity Centre leader?
My mom. My mother had always been pretty active but in her later years, I saw how she struggled just to get the easiest tasks done. She passed away in April of 2012. When the opportunity arose for me to become involved I took it, to honour my mom. My motivation is to offer some simple exercises in an environment that doesn’t judge or evaluate, but that offers fellowship mixed in with some fun music and motivating exercises.
Leading two large classes can be overwhelming at times, but I do my best.
What other interests do you have?
For the most part, I like to volunteer but I like to be in the background and am private about my involvement. Fair to say I reach out and am blessed often. I’m a mother of two adult children and enjoy their company a great deal. I love to garden, but back and knee issues have curtailed that somewhat. However, you can still find me kneeling over one of my 5 large flower beds weeding away! Probably my favourite interest is golfing with my husband. Fortunately, we are both avid golfers and we love to take golf vacations when we are able. This is one of the few negative aspects of teaching as getting away can sometimes be challenging to organize.
This is a lot of work. More than some people realize. But I can honestly say that the majority of my participants appreciate the efforts I make to lead these classes. They are generous in their praise and looking down and seeing their smiles fills my heart. When I get a bit tired and think it’s time to take a break, I try to remember the student who comes up and whispers through tears “I can get into and out of the tub by myself now” or “my doctor is so impressed with my progress”. What higher praise than this could I ask for?