Move it baby, move it!

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Human bodies are made to experience pleasure, it’s simply biological. Scientists have long known that both human and animal brains are hard-wired with reward pathways, or so-called pleasure centres. In plain language, this means that we have to get a certain amount of pleasure and stimulation from our daily activities in order to be happy. Psychologists call it psychological hedonism. In lay terms this explains that the motive for all voluntary human action is the desire to experience pleasure and avoid pain.

Now here is where the exercise disconnect kicks in. If you have a deep-seated animosity toward the gym, or any kind of structured exercise program, you’re not alone. Many people dread workouts, even the word itself is hard, work-outs. The potential pain of a solid gym session combined with, for many people, the lack of pleasure the activity itself involves is the reason so many of us chant a recurring chorus of “I should exercise more” and then do no such thing.

I’ve always thought the exercise equation was the wrong way around. It should go like this: if physical activity is fun we’ll do it and keep doing it. Fun is pleasurable and we human beings do what gives us pleasure, if as an (unexpected) bonus we get fitter all the better. To simply promote exercise because one day, eventually, it will make us fitter has got the message upside down and if that’s your strategy to bring more activity permanently into your life I’ve got two wise words for you “good luck”.

There is one place in the West End where people are exercising regularly and there is no pleasure deficit to be seen, quite the reverse, in this group of fitness funksters the group rings with laughter and teasing. It is the Heartmoves class, held four mornings a week in the Newcastle Leagues Club, where the welcome is warm and the atmosphere light-hearted. These people are having fun.

Heartmoves classes were developed by the Heart Foundation and are a low-to-moderate intensity program suitable for everyone. They allow participants to exercise at their own pace by incorporating moves designed for people who are already fit and also variations for those living with stable long-term health conditions. There is an emphasis on strength and balance exercises and for those who are less stable it’s even possible to do these movements sitting down. Class sizes are limited so that the leader can give individual attention to members.

Leading the West End’s Heartmoves is Deborah Moore, an enthusiastic teacher clearly loved by the class, which is not surprising given how engaged and caring she is toward them. Looking inspiringly fit and lean her passion for fitness is evident. She’s not only an accredited exercise professional who has been teaching since 1998, but is one of the team at the Heart Foundation who developed the Heartmoves program. She explains “It’s the most rewarding classes I teach. They are playful, social and build confidence…our focus is on keeping our movement fun.”

Another reason to go to the wonderful Heartmoves class is the chance to visit the Newcastle Leagues Club. Now if you haven’t been to this club – go! It’s a local gem. Like walking into a 1960s lounge it’s a time capsule of Australian club life: all lurid swirly patterned carpet, kitschy furniture and dark wood panelling. I’ve got a personal plea to the owners and it goes like this “please don’t change a thing”. It’s perfect just as it is and the kind of unique venue which continues to make the West End the most surprising part of town.

The Heartmoves classes at Newcastle Leagues Club are on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 11.00am. All classes are $5.00 and the first class is free. There is an exercise screening form to complete prior to your first session. If you become a regular participant it is necessary to join Newcastle Leagues Club. To find out more about Heartmoves generally and the location of classes near you http://www.heartmoves.org.au Deborah Moore, BScHonsDipEd and GradDipHealthPromotion, also works part-time at the Heart Foundation. Contact her on 0410 098 747.

Kimberly O’Sullivan

Have you chosen the West End as your home or as the perfect place to run your business? Do you have a West End tale which deserves a wider audience? What inspires and infuriates you about the West End? If you have a story to tell I would love to talk to you! Here’s how to find me: kimberly@netspace.net.au; 0413 250 155.

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