Here, where I live in Brevard County Florida, we are known for being a hospitable community. In our area we give back, and as a result there are many organizations which help life to be richer and fuller made possible by the efforts of volunteers. My friend Ellen spends time volunteering at our local Sharing Center. Another friend of mine, Cat works in a thrift store which benefits our local Women’s Center.
Although I have always participated within the volunteer community, most recently I became a volunteer instructor at the local Senior Adventure in Learning Group. I found out about them when I became a caregiver for a friend’s Mom. She explained have low cost, interesting classes for seniors. I was amazed at the variety of classes available to our seniors. The offerings include classes for History buffs, card players, computer classes and art as well. I was recruited to teach Tai Chi, which led to me teaching another fitness class and then I substituted for the yoga instructor! Teaching the classes helped me sharpen my communication skills and define what I was trying to apply my knowledge to. And it felt good to be interacting with members of my community.
I had designed a workshop for massage therapist intending to help prevent repetitive stress syndrome back in 2001. I felt that the exercises I had been performing for years helped my career longevity. I wanted to share this info in a C.E.U workshop but never got around to marketing it.
When I started teaching seniors I realized that the information I had accumulated over the years applied to everyone not just Licensed Massage Therapists! In fact it ESPECIALLY applied to seniors. The benefit of teaching in S.A.I.L was that they took the class for 8 weeks straight. Then we’d have a month break and have another 8 week session. Some of the students repeatedly came to my classes.
They encouraged me to keep coming back and validated my program by showing off their improved posture. I was so excited to find that when they walked into the room they had a noticeable improvement in their gate, posture and ability to move with grace. It was as though I had my own learning lab! They let me know what helped what didn’t help and when they felt better.
What a difference compared to when I first started my practice 27 years ago. I held free classes to educate people about Massage. It was hard, I was young and struggling to get the message out! I had so much to prove and massage, holistic medicine, Tai Chi, Pilates, these were all aspects of health I had to educate people in. It was Not mainstream back then.
These days people are requesting my classes !! They are asking me to come teach them. I no longer have to convince anyone to come listen, or give me a chance to help them.
In fact I just finished my first Massage class at S.A.I.L, it was requested by my exercise students. I get a kick outta that.
If it’s true that you cannot hurt another person with out hurting yourself, then it must be equally true that if you help others it will help you out exponentially. The minor effort of donating my time and knowledge have given me an opportunity to flow love into my community and feel valuable and loved in return.
Valentina Boonstra, LMT
Personal Trainer, Tai Chi, Pilates and strength teacher