By Mandy Harrison-Ware
A tailor by trade and specializing in wedding dresses, I had no particular interest in the fitness industry, but I have always loved dance. In between finishing my Open University Degrees in Social Sciences and MSc in Forensic Psychology and Criminology, I went to belly dancing classes, swam, and that was it. Following an accident, which resulted in a grade 3 fracture to the neck of my femur (thigh bone), I spent 10 months on crutches. It completely sapped my strength. Determined to get back to normal was very hard, even swimming was difficult. I tried the gym for the sake of it but I didn’t really enjoy that either.
Then Zumba hit Hereford, and I loved it. Even though I wasn’t back to optimum fitness, I ended up on a training day with no intention of becoming a teacher, but I completed my B1 Zumba training. Friends started asking when I was going to start classes, so I took the plunge. Six years later I have completed Zumba Gold, Zumba Toning, Aqua and Zumba Kids teaching qualifications, as well as other courses including stretching and a chair based exercise for older populations.
My aim has always been to make my fitness classes accessible for everybody – all ages and abilities. I want people to feel that they can achieve something, whether it be increasing their fitness level, have more stamina, build strength, or improve their wellbeing.
Exercise should be fun, so the music I use is uplifting and motivating. Most of my classes are held in village halls, where the atmosphere is more relaxed and comfortable, and less intimidating than in a gym full of ultra-fit people.
I feel there is not much out there for older participants or those just getting back into fitness, perhaps after a period of inactivity or recovering from an illness, surgery or an injury. There are also clients with different degrees of impairments and disabilities, so low impact exercise is a great way to take those first steps towards getting fitter.
In all my classes I use toning sticks, which are optional – they help build strength, making a class a total body workout. Everybody works at their own level and you don’t need to worry about co-ordination, just enjoy! Modified moves are also offered where appropriate.
Chairobics is a new addition to my timetable. This class can be done seated, standing or using the chair as a support. Using upbeat music we work on exercises to help with everyday living, whilst resistance bands and small weighted balls (optional) are used for added strength. Chairobics is suitable for any age and ability, and it is particularly well suited to those who find standing problematic.
Mandy’s Classes Zumba, Zumba Gold, Low Impact Exercise, Chairobics, Stretchercize (more mat based) are held in village halls across the Leominster/North Herefordshire area, and also at Halo Leisure in Leominster.
Tel: 01544 387 958 or 07538 218 273
Facebook: Mandy Harrison Ware
Founder and editor of FitNet.
Previously gymnastics coach, massage therapist and personal trainer with 20 years of experience. Former gymnast and dancer.