Archive for the ‘News’ Category

chair launch

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

En-joy the chair as never before… as an exercise ally, as a creativity ally, as fitness-launching equipment.

Let go of previous ideas of a chair as something to hold you when you can no longer hold yourself up. Learn to hold yourself in joy and pleasure and push from the chair  for new levels of strength and stability. Then melt into the support of the chair, one area of the body at a time, for flexibility without the struggle. Give in to gravity with trust.

Weave seated exercise into everyday life

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

There are many simple things you can do TOGETHER as you go through daily life to encourage more flexibility, strength, and mobility – all benefits of exercise – even for someone who is very inactive. Exercise on the sly is still exercise. Try ankle circles, or writing your name in the air with your toe, when sitting and waiting – like at the doctor’s office. Explore sitting position to encourage an upright spine – maybe use a wedge cushion – and then introduce looking in different directions, like out the window, behind you, even under the chair. Lift ordinary objects like a potato, a grapefruit, a handbag ( which may be quite heavy!).

For a person eager to get exercise, it’s beneficial to talk about the value of the activity. Research suggests that knowing you are exercising helps you get more out of it – I’m referring to a study of hotel maids. Half the research group were educated on how much good exercise they were getting doing the chores of their jobs, like vacuuming, or changing bedsheets. The other half did the same work, but received no instruction. At the end of the study period, their fitness had not increased as much as those who were thinking about the fitness advantages of their jobs.

If a frail person is against the idea of exercising, just weave the moves into everyday activities and be glad that much is getting done. At a loss for ideas? Look in Chairmasters pages.

Exercise and Quality of Life

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Does inactivity give older adults the blues? Or does unhappiness get in the way of elders getting more exercise? I just read in the Journal of Aging and Health citing a study in Brazil, about exercise and the quality of life, which concluded that “increases in the levels of physical activity can contribute to improvements in quality of life of older adults.”  This brings up the question of whether it is the increased activity that improves life, or whether those who are already more active are already having an easier time getting through their days.  Where does it begin? My view is that it doesn’t matter. It’s a circle that can be entered at any point.

For instance, if Bonnie’s hip pain is keeping her from coming to chair exercise group, then she misses out on the social connections and pleasant conversation of the group, as well as the music that makes her smile and the the change of scene from her apartment. So the loss is much greater than merely lack of physical activity. On the other hand, if Bonnie opts to come to class anyway, she may not actually do much more movement than she would have at home, since “everything hurts.”  But one of the solutions to inactivity is engagement in life.  And one of the solutions to isolation is increased activity. Her presence in class may bring other social invitations, and more places to go and things to do. So her quality of life may be enriched while her overall amount of movement in a day inches up with each outing. The best case scenario is that her functional ability will also improve.

Then there’s Sylvia. At age 96, she not the ballroom dancer she was in earlier years, but she still loves to move to music and attend the chair exercise class, even though she has already taken a walk outside. She participates in other, more challenging,  fitness offerings at her retirement community, but the seated exercise class is better than dozing off in her recliner,  and she feels it improves her flexibility.  She’s already sold on the principle that exercise will improve her quality of life. She’s one of the people that makes research register a high correlation between physical activity and quality of life.

Eppie is prone to moping around her apartment and forces herself to get to the chair exercise class. It’s a “long walk,” and she gets tired, but she knows that she will feel better at the end of the day for having gotten out. She benefits from building a habit of attending class and over time becomes one of those people who seems to be happier. It may have taken will power at first, but all the elements of the class add up to greater health as well as improved quality of life.

It does not matter where someone enters the circle. It all adds up to breaking (or preventing) the downward spiral of  a shrinking life. Exercise for frail elderly may do a lot by itself to improve quality of life, but there are many more benefits embedded in solutions to inactivity.

To find the  article in Journal of Aging and Health, go to:



Sedentary Elders Benefit from Exercise

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

I’m so impressed with the members of my chair exercise class. I’m sure they don’t think of themselves as frail elderly. They come to class regularly to move beyond inactivity. We loosen all the joints, gently warm up all the muscles, and enjoy moving to music.
But it’s not the regular attendance that wows me,  it’s that members of the group are applying the exercises to their everyday lives. At each class, I hear stories of success using a practical exercise or its benefit out in the real world.
With her permission, here is Bernice’s story:
“I had a little accident with a shopping cart the other day and ended up with my whole hand bruised. I remembered our hand and finger exercises and did them throughout the day. The bruising diminished very quickly and I’m glad I remembered I could do something to dissipate the internal bleeding.”
After hearing Bernice’s story, the group discussed the connection between exercise and improved circulation to speed healing. “As long as it doesn’t make it feel worse,” Janet adds.
Some of our regular moves aim directly at providing a solution to a common issue. We’ll even use that as the nickname for the exercise, such as, “always able to put on your socks.” If you don’t challenge your  flexibility on a daily basis, you tend to lose your range of motion and then what was once a simple, daily action, that hardly took your attention, becomes a challenge demanding new equipment or assistance. Invest in what you want to be able to do.
The members of the group are sedentary, but they know that any effort to move is a move in the right direction, toward being more able: just the regular participation in the group has kept most of us more  independent. Regular exercise has numerous benefits, and one of them is to maintain the ability to do everyday tasks.

Digital version coming soon

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

I’m still willing to mail you copies of the Chair Masters ring binder and the DVD. They are very handy for gift-giving. They are user-friendly and low-tech. The binder stands up well on a table or sofa, which makes it easy to follow the exercises page by page. In this format, you can take the book to your doctor or physical therapy visit and get it personally marked for which exercises to do and which to leave out.

Soon,  the materials will be available in digital format world wide and instantaneously. You’ll be able to download the book onto your computer and follow it from there. It’s all about choice and the format that works best for you.

And the most important part is remembering to move SOMETHING rather than nothing.

Chair Masters Yoga

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Basically, I look for the essence of what an asana does for me inside, and then search for how I can still access that muscle stretch ( or whatever) in a smaller range of motion or seated in a chair or with the back of the chair available for balance support. How can I do cat/cow without putting any body weight on my knees? How can I access some of the sensations of child’s pose without getting onto the floor?

An example: lotus looks inaccessible to people in this class if they look at a picture of someone doing it. We sit on the forward edge of our chairs and rest the outer edge of one foot on the floor, allowing that knee to fall gently to the side. Ah! there’s  the outer rotation of the thigh bone. And then we might sense the pelvis tilted slightly forward in response. Oh! the erect spine that occurs creates an opening for breath and awareness!  Ruby, a former student at 101 years old, was doing this in her motorized wheelchair even after she stopped transferring to a regular chair when she came to class.   So, some people can do both legs out at once, some cannot be comfortable  that way. Some poeple put the edge-foot up on a block, or 2 blocks. There may be as many variations as there are students.

I use flow sparingly, mostly when the asanas are easy and familiar. More of the time, we take awhile to get there, even after warming up all of the joints at the very beginning of class, (see beginning of Chair Masters book or videdo) and spend about 3 breaths in a pose. It really depends on who’s there on any given day, and what they are eager for, what the body issues are at the moment.

Take computer breaks

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

This customer has climbed Kilimanjaro and still goes jogging. He’s wise enough to know he needs to take a break from just sitting at the computer: “We are going to have the DVD on Linn’s computer so that he can take breaks from his long periods
of working on excel sheets and do some exercises.  I like the video and it is very good for us.”

TOPS group embraces ChairMasters

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

“I shared it once with my TOPS* group and they begged for more.” P.D. had trained with Chair Masters years ago as a volunteer in a retirement community, but her useful knowledge came in handy again and now she has a new regular group with her *Take Off Pounds Sensibly club. We’re looking forward to hearing more about how it’s going with enthusiastic new niche.

“Life is a fitness test”

Monday, January 11th, 2010

This is not a comment from a gym rat, nor from someone who’s anti gym. It’s from a 93 year old client who has just worked up to 10 reps with a 2-pound hand weight. Ten going on a hundred. A retired charge nurse, she knows how important exercise is to her continued health. She’s committed to improving her posture for more efficient and comfortable walking. She has had back surgery and hip surgery, and totes oxygen on her walker. The facility where she lives only offers exercise groups 2 days a week and she hired me to come in and exercise with her on the alternate days. After telling me today about a friend ( a former collague) who was back at home right after a hip replacement, she mused, “Life is a fitness test.”
That’s Martha Schneidmiller”s wisdom.

A Thank You Note

Monday, November 17th, 2008

“Dear Janet, I must tell you just how much I am enjoying the Chair Masters DVD. I’m using it alone in my room almost daily. I place a chair in front of my TV, open the sliding glass door for fresh air, and away I go, keeping up with the class and your instructions. It’s wonderful. I always do the warm-up, but when my energy level is good, I also do the strength and flexibility section. The book was good, but right now, at this time in my life, the DVD is just perfect – and I’m so comfortable using it. – Bernice Homan