Denise, as the Creator and Founder of the Ageless Grace® brain-body fitness program now being taught in 10 countries and 47 US states, can you tell us a little more about Ageless Grace®?
Ageless Grace® is a FUN exercise program for the body and brain that is done seated in a chair to fun, upbeat, lively music. The 21 tools or exercises activate all 5 functions of the brain and address all 21 factors that are labeled as “aging “in the body. It is done seated to work the core of the body, massage the internal organs, activate the systems of the body and stimulate the energy centers.
What makes this program different from other fitness programs for baby boomers and seniors?
The Ageless Grace® program is based on 7 years of research in the cutting-edge science of neuroplasticity — the ability of the brain and the central nervous system to change it’s form and function across the course of a lifetime, specifically when stimulated by physical activity. The brain functions activated include Strategic Planning, Memory and Recall, Analytical Thinking, Creativity and Imagination and Kinesthetic Learning.
A few of the physical skills addressed in the program include, balance, spinal flexibility, joint mobility, the ability to respond, react and recover, upper body strength, hip flexor mobility, bone density, muscle mass and coordination.
So how do you practice this science in a chair?
From the time we were born until we were about 18-21 years old, we spent our lives developing neural pathways to make us functional adults. We crawled, walked, learn to feed ourselves, go up and down stairs, become more flexible and pliable — we developed balance skills. Eventually we learned to play ring around the rosy, tag, hide and seek, ball games — we learned to ride a bike, tie our shoes and perhaps learned to play a musical instrument. All the while we were playing these games we sang, counted and said rhyming words aloud. This created neural pathways — or superhighways where messages travel between the brain and body parts need to perform specific functions and activities. We became youthfully functional — and then we “grew up” and stopped practicing all the activities we needed to do to continue to perform with ease and comfort. So in Ageless Grace® we play all sorts of “games”, which are called Tools, in order to re-open and re-activate all those neural pathways that have shut down, but still remain in the body.
How long does it take to re-open these neural pathways?
It varies from person to person, depending on how long it has been since you last practiced these functional skills. However it’s much like riding a bicycle; once you’ve spend months and months learning how to do it, you never really forget — and your body and brain remember these skills quickly when you begin to practice them again.
What are some of the functional skills that you practice in Ageless Grace®?
We have Tools or “games” for balance, spinal flexibility, joint mobility, cognitive function, memory, multi-skilling, upper body strength, the muscle of the heart or cardio-conditioning, strength, stamina and dexterity in the hands and feet, hip flexor mobility, systemic movement, facial muscles and tension — and we even practice breathing exercises to oxygenate the cells, bloodstream and brain for more energy, clearer thinking and greater focus and brain power
What other types of things do you learn in a class?
Well, there are actually two parts to neuroplasticity and the ability to stay functionally youthful throughout your life. In addition to re-opening neural pathways, Harvard University and Medical School, among others, has discovered it is also critical to active aging to continue to develop NEW neural pathways by practicing simple physical skills you do NOT already know how to do. We practice fun and challenging activities like drawing a circle with one hand, a triangle with your opposite big toe — and a line with your elbow...it feels impossible! But the whole point is to do something physical that is new to you — and let the brain process what you are attempting to do, which begins to create NEW neural pathways.
What are some other examples of activities that we don’t know how to do that you practice in Ageless Grace® class?
We always do everything with both the right side of the body and the left side — it can really activate the sense of humor! And we do some fast, simple tapping of the foot and hand — counting aloud — and then clap on a number called out by the instructor. We mostly end up laughing a lot! But it helps us develop something critical to active aging — that is the ability to respond, react and recover, which we call the “three R’s of Ageless Grace®”.
What are the names of these Tools or games that you practice?
The have silly, playful EASY to remember names like Juicy Joints, Spaghetti Spine, Team Fit, Power Tools, Body Math, Gentle Geometry, Zoo-ology, Dive In!, Front Row Orchestra, Tri Chi, Yo-Baby!, Grab Bag --- all names that, once you’ve done them, are simple to remember to practice on your own!
Do you need to go to a class to practice Ageless Grace® and get the benefits from the program?
There are private and public classes all across the USA and in 10 countries. There are also 45 minute classes locally in Hendersonville NC which I teach myself, which are open to anyone for a small class fee. You can visit www.agelessgrace.com for class times and locations. Going to class gives you great ideas for practicing on your own at home and also give you the stimulation of group interaction. However the website also offers a three DVD set that is self-explanatory, a playbook that outlines all 21 tools or exercises, and a set of flashcards you can purchase to help you learn how to practice them at hone on your own.
You can also contact me, Denise Medved, personally at firstname.lastname@example.org.