Monday morning, 10.30 a.m. The break time is Ibstock Place, an independent school on the green outskirts of Richmond Park.
Seven-year-olds play football outside, while in the schoolroom 11-year-olds practice their choral works. And in a discreet studio, 55-year-olds (and older) stand at a ballet barre and perform creases, bending and stretching and turning. The first Silver Swans lesson of the week is on its way.
I became a Silver Swan in January and arrived at exactly the right time. Last year I had left the journalistic role that I had put my heart and soul into during a quarter of a century. I lost my sense of purpose, and – worse – the close group of colleagues I worked with, who had become like a family.
At the same time, my partner underwent a series of operations and the previously robust health of my 88-year-old mother began to deteriorate. As the year progressed I hovered up and down across highways, from one hospital bed to another, my own well-being was the last thing I thought.
A new spring in her step: Sue, center, practices her ballet movements with fellow Silver Swans
My mother passed away last December, which ended a year of confusion, upset, bewilderment and deep sadness.
Normally optimistic and exciting, I did not recognize the person I would become. I knew I had to get my mojo back.
At the top of my list of things I could do, my health was back on track. During my working life I was lucky to have access to a corporate fitness room that I used two or three times a week. I also walked to our West Highland Terrier, Teddy, twice a day and attended a weekly Pilates class close to the office. But when I left my job, I noticed that I was doing all the exercises at sea. Our beloved Teddy died and I was miles away from my closest Pilates class.
The area of London where I live is full of hard-core gyms where alpha city types gain weight and submit to rigorous spin classes. With personal trainers that charge up to £ 75 per session, nothing was appealing.
I had to find a form of exercise that I would like and that would not cost the earth.
For a while I have done walking and occasionally a hula hoop in my daughter's bedroom. Then I heard about Silver Swans.
I always enjoyed ballet. From the age of four, I attended Mrs. Bart-Smith's dance class in Sheffield once a week, where I grew up. I continued the ballet through high school, but stopped when I arrived in London in the early twenties.
I immediately knew that Silver Swans was for me. Started a few years ago by the Royal Academy of Dance to encourage older students to develop ballet skills, classes are now available in the UK.
I became a Silver Swan in January and arrived at exactly the right time. Last year I had left the journalistic role that I had put my heart and soul into during a quarter of a century
Of course, I was worried about my first lesson. I have always been self-conscious about my shape. I grew up next to an extremely slender sister, the kind who looked fantastic in broken velvet warm pants when they were all furious. I tend more towards baby elephant, with the short firm legs of a Northern pit pony.
Fortunately, everything goes well in this group. Wobbly thighs, generous derrieres, fluttering bingo wings, stiff knees, ugly ankles – everyone, regardless of your shape or size, no matter how flexible or rigid, no matter how long or short you are, is welcome.
I felt a little crazy when I arrived in tights and tights – all the other women were in T-shirts and leggings and they all knew what they were doing, much better than me. But they were friendly and hospitable, and in grade two I felt part of the gang.
Make your own sun
Have you ever tried to make your own sunscreen remedy? I remember when a teenager heard that yogurt was the thing. Anyway, this after-sun contains ingredients that are known to calm and hydrate.
Health advice is if you burn, apply a thin layer of moisturizer – avoid being too greasy on the skin and retaining heat.
You can make a batch of these and keep it in the fridge. Massage into the skin, leave it on for 20 minutes and wash it off in a cool shower.
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 carrot
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons aloe vera gel
- Chop the carrot into large pieces and do this in a blender.
- Cut the avocado in half and spoon in the blender together with the oil and the gel.
- Mix until smooth.
- Apply to affected areas of the skin twice a day.
At around £ 150 per term it is a good price, for around an hour we work around £ 15.
I also like that our lessons take place in the middle of a busy school, where the children can see people of their grandparents age enjoying regular exercise.
Mary Goodhew, head of dance at Ibstock Place, is committed to turning the school into a center for people in the community of all ages.
She says: & # 39; From four to ninety years old, we let all students enjoy the fantastic facilities of our school. & # 39; The health benefits of dance are undeniable. We all know that staying active and following a form of pleasant exercise until old age we all need to consider. But dance in particular can play a vital role in ensuring a better quality of life.
In fact, research often puts ballet ahead of other forms of physical activity because of the variety of health benefits it promotes, and offers improvements in mobility, posture, coordination, strength, and energy.
Since I let go of my own swan, I have also built a new circle of friends – we are all between 55 and 65 years old, and we would like to finish the lesson at a nearby coffee shop. We are always happy to see each other and catch up with each other's week and, above all, we laugh (while you work hard, you understand).
So what makes it all so special?
& # 39; I used to do yoga, & # 39; says my classmate Camilla, & # 39; but my thoughts would drift away. In ballet you have to constantly concentrate. It is practice for both the mind and the body. & # 39;
Pam agrees: & # 39; One of my legs is weak from sciatica, and doing ballet is a great incentive to improve my strength in that leg. & # 39;
Linda & # 39; s reasons are more moving: & # 39; My mother died a few years ago. In the last few months of her life, she was so weak that she could not walk or do physical physical things, such as lifting a kettle.
& # 39; Seeing her die like that had a profound effect on me. I realized that as you get older, it is essential to stay active. Walking is not enough. & # 39;
Me? I just can't think of a better way to start the week and I can tell you, hand in heart, I look forward to Monday morning. The class is uplifting and joyful. And we all leave with a spring in our step.
- For national lessons, visit royalacademyofdance.org.
What is the difference between plaque and tartar?
Plaque is a sticky, colorless substance that accumulates between the teeth and around the gum line. With daily brushing and flossing, it can be kept under control. But poor oral hygiene ensures that the acid in the dental plaque can eat through the teeth, creating cavities and infected gums.
Eventually the gums will pull away from the teeth, increasing the risk of them falling.
Tartar is paved plaque that has not been removed. The yellowish-brown substance is hard and porous because it forms from the minerals that naturally occur in our saliva.
Untreated, it also causes cavities, gum disease and tooth loss. It cannot be polished away and must be scraped by a dentist.
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