Lindsey reflects on how The Joy Club has enabled her to make the most of a recent trip to Brighton and to get stuck in with some gardening…
The absolute best thing about being retired is waking up on a hot, early-summer weekday and not having to even think about getting to work and therefore being able to manage my days just as I wish. I know some newly retired people can struggle with this, finding it hard to fill their once hectic days – but not me. Living alone, I am solely responsible for everything; finances, house, repairs, garden, car, but I will always find the time to fit in as many events with The Joy Club that take my fancy. I really enjoy the challenge of learning new things and listening to how other members feel about the classes too.
Generally, I don’t get a great deal of pleasure from cooking (as opposed to eating!) but over the last month I’ve joined two of Beth Thomas’ cookery classes – and they are so much more than a standard ‘cookery class’. This Masterchef semi-finalist is passionate about food waste and her classes are live, so she’s cooking as she’s teaching. On 25th May she gave us her ‘Preserves masterclass‘, where she showed us how to make chutney, fermented vegetables, herb oil and jam and gave us lots of hints and tips around the best methods to use. I loved this class as it made me think back to many years ago when my children were small – and before I started a full time career – when I would make pots and pots of rhubarb and ginger jam which were snapped up by family and friends, who would later put in further ‘orders’. This used to give me a great sense of achievement and I wonder, now, why I stopped doing it. Life often just gets in the way I suppose.
Beth’s second class, ‘Sustainable cooking’ on 20th June was really educational. While preparing vegetables for her cooking demo, she talked us through a list of ‘tips’ around sustainability. She covered how to reduce food waste, details of regenerative farming, eating lesser-known plants which grow easily in winter, the facts around organic food labelling and much more. She prepared and cooked a ribollita, an Italian bread soup, using homegrown and left over vegetables as well as some rye crispbreads. I swear I could almost smell how good they were when she was finished! Beth had used her own bay leaves which gave me the ideal opportunity to ask her about how best to use the leaves from the enormous bay tree I have in the garden, which I spend hours cutting down only for it to seemingly regrow by the following week. She told me how to use and dry the leaves and I now have around ten jars full – I wonder what all my friends and family will be getting with their birthday gifts over the next few months!
On 10th June, together with five best friends, I hopped on the train and went on a day trip to Brighton. We managed to choose what (at that point) was the hottest day of the year, but with the sea breeze it really didn’t matter. We had a really active day, spent a couple of hours on the beach to soak up some much needed vitamin D and I got my step count above 15,000 – up much higher than I have for a long time. We hadn’t all been out as a group like this for over a year and I was delighted when told individually by some of my besties that they thought I was walking better, with better posture, increased energy and boosted confidence. Quite simply, I put this down to 18 months of my exercise classes with The Joy Club – seriously, this is the best thing I’ve ever done for my physical health! Making special memories like is so important and for me, a must have for my ‘self care toolkit’, as mentioned in Anna Treasure’s article ‘How to build your own “self-care” toolkit’. All in all it was a super day for my physical, emotional and mental health. You simply cannot beat time spent with best friends; the companionship, the laughter, the sheer enjoyment of the day – and the snacks!
On 12the June, a really hot morning, I had Erin’s ‘Low impact dance‘ booked for 3.00pm. I seriously considered cancelling as I had a nasty headache which I just couldn’t shake off. At around 2.45pm a promised thunderstorm arrived and, within 5 minutes, I felt my headache starting to ease. I logged on and explained to Erin that I may not stay the distance but would give it a try and I was so glad I did. She was very concerned and advised that I just take it easy and stop completely if necessary. Once finished, my headache had gone, whether that was down to Erin or the storm I’ll never know, but I felt fully recharged.
A few weeks later, I woke up with aches and pains in my back and thighs after doing some gardening in positions I probably shouldn’t have and took painkillers a couple of hours before Jill’s ‘Gentle cardio‘ class at 11.15am, to try to stave off the worst of the aches. Unfortunately, around an hour before the class while tidying up, I bent slightly to get into a drawer and felt the most horrendous spasm in my back. I realised I was better staying upright and thought about cancelling my class but decided in the end that movement while staying upright might help. I logged on early and explained everything to Jill. She showed just the same concern as Erin had and gave me lots of advice to follow if I wanted to stay on the class; take it slower than usual, avoid the cardio aspects (heart rate raising exercises), don’t use hand weights, no jumping and to sit down if I felt I needed to. So I turned off my camera and did exactly that. I did half speed, sometimes less, kept up gentle marching while Jill was doing the higher impact moves and I felt a huge benefit from all the stretching exercises. I was so pleased with myself for managing it, I think the class loosened me up nicely. Following the class and the painkillers kicking in, it turned out that I was generally pain-free for the rest of the day and have been since.
Kudos to both Erin and Jill; I only felt comfortable enough to log onto the classes due to their professionalism and knowledge. Something for me to remember and tuck into my ‘self-care toolkit’. For lots of different reasons, you may not feel like you’ll manage one of The Joy Club’s exercise classes, but I feel the lesson here is to make sure any of The Joy Club fitness instructors know exactly what’s going on if you have any pain or injuries so they can do their job properly and advise you correctly. They’ll always be 100% behind you to ensure you stay safe. You can leave your camera off if you wish and just do what you can, however little you manage you’ll always benefit from it.
Incidentally, while on the subject of exercise classes, if anyone fancies trying the Tai Chi but hasn’t had the confidence to join one of Jerry’s Zooms yet, he’s running a class called ‘Beyond the basics‘ on 12th July, which he told us would be ideal for any new members or absolute beginners as well as those of us who’ve been on his ‘Qigong and Tai Chi‘ classes for a while. He’ll be giving more detailed instructions and explanations to the individual movements so ideal for any newbies and for those of us who want or need reminders and nuance to help refine our moves. Also, it was really good to hear from one regular participant that her blood pressure is showing clear signs of improvement since she started the Tai Chi classes!
And finally, on 13th June we had another ‘Gardeners Unite!‘ with Helen, who is happy to admit to simply being an amateur gardener, but she is passionate and inspiring. Following our request last month, this time she gave us lots of ideas about which tools we could use for increased accessibility as we get older – including a section on ‘going potty’ and bulbs for autumnal colour. She was also able to advise me on how best to fill a dip in my lawn, which was once a pond, and I’ll be on that in early September when the grandchildren have gone back to school and the lawn can have a much needed rest. With Helen’s classes, together with articles like fellow member Sandra’s blog about her ‘Yarden‘, I’m feeling much more inspired around gardening than ever before!
Want to see what’s coming up next month? See our full events calendar here.