I’ll call her Maude.
Maude called me on a busy weekday in November, simply leaving a message explaining that she would like an appointment. I quickly called her back and we chatted. She explained that she was 86 and wanted exercise. When I asked her who had referred her, she couldn’t remember. I still don’t know who sent her to me, but I would like to give them my sincere appreciation.
During each and every consultation, I always ask my client about their most preferred genre of music. I also ask about any music they do not like. I know that music is one of the quickest ways to find connection with my clients. In fact, familiar music is the conversation I rely on for most first sessions. Maude actually shared that she was a professional organist and brilliant piano player once in her life. I didn’t doubt this, especially since she had a grand piano five feet away from us in her seventh floor apartment. She easily told me that she liked classical music, especially Bach. Since I listen to classical music quite often in my own home, I was absolutely thrilled. When I asked her about music that she might not want to hear, she pronounced emphatically: “None of the crap they play today!” I smiled and nodded in total understanding.
I’ve worked with many seniors. It is through working with them that I have found a new confidence and boldness that I carry forward into my own life. Seniors aren’t afraid to express themselves. They live without fear of judgement from others. They pursue their own interests and express gratitude for the gifts they have. They are also, might I add… hilarious. I find it refreshing to work with senior populations because they aren’t necessarily interested in their physical ‘look.’ They want to feel good, get stronger, and become able to function daily with more ease and with less pain. I enjoy helping them to find a new strength and confidence, one that they may have had before and lost, or never really ever had.
As I started to work with Maude, I realized quickly that her memory is sometimes cloudy, but she is still very sharp. At the beginning of each and every workout, I always invite her to leave her walker and stand at the kitchen counter. We then begin to march to the music. I have noticed that these walks quickly help her stand tall with great posture. Because her hearing isn’t always very keen, I simply let the lively music of Bach fill our ears instead of conversation.
After a few sessions, we began to converse more about our lives. I shared with her that I love jazz music. She looked up at me in astonishment when I told her that I liked to play classical and jazz in my house with my children. She praised me for sharing this music with them and I couldn’t help but appreciate her praise. Our session ended that day with a wonderful conversation about our families and music.
When I came in for our last session before Christmas, I decided, on a whim, to play the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” album. This is my absolute favorite Christmas album. When I told her I was playing this album, she nodded in quick approval and we began to march. And, then, to my delight, she started to get lost in the music.
Maude started dancing.
As she step tapped and tried to keep up with the rhythm, I also joined in. I know I must have been smiling, but I don’t remember anything I was feeling. I was just completely immersed in this magical moment. It was a moment where she and I found a connection in the music. She continued to dance until the end of the song. And, even though it was just for a short time, the memory still continues to make me smile with gratitude.
It is in those little magic moments that I reaffirm to myself why I love what I do. Being a personal trainer has brought me so many wonderful experiences with wonderful people, such as Maude. For every ‘thank you’ I have ever received, I feel like I should give at least 20 ‘thank yous’ back.
I hope that all of my clients and readers also experience surprises and delights this holiday season. May you find your own dancing shoes where you least expect them…