Virginia Cooke

Ageless Grace Educator

I’ve been holding Ageless Grace classes since January 2016 at Kangara Waters, a beautiful retirement village overlooking Lake Ginninderra in the ACT. The manager was very supportive of this new movement modality; I’m excited to be running Canberra’s first Ageless Grace class at this lovely location.

I found out about Ageless Grace through another educator in the US who’s also a Callanetics instructor, like me. I’m interested in movement as opposed to traditional forms of exercise, and I believe that it’s more fun and less intimidating, especially for ‘non exercisers’ like me, when you don’t realise you’re doing it.

The best thing about teaching Ageless Grace is the scope for creativity. As an educator, I use my skills in acting, comedy, improvisation, singing, movement, and presentation. Sometimes I plan my classes, sometimes I work with particular themes, and sometimes ideas will just come to me out of the blue, even during a class! The music inspires the direction the movement will take too.

The magic of Ageless Grace is that it works without your realising it. It’s a brain-body fitness program that incorporates 21 ‘exercise tools’ that stimulate both sides of the brain. My sessions are usually 45 minutes long and consist of about 12 of these tools, (allowing time for comments, chat, or reminiscing in between), and I vary the class each week.

Because Ageless Grace is done seated, it’s very safe. Sitting in a chair means that the core of the body is worked in a way that it can’t be worked when standing. The brain has to work out how to create the movements while seated. And that’s half the fun – it feels like play. The happy smiles and laughter of participants attest to that!

Ageless Grace doesn’t require any equipment to get started, so it’s very simple. As an educator, all I have is my play list on my phone, and a small speaker. We’re all seated a comfortable leg distance apart from each other, and off we go!

I’m extroverted by nature, so my teaching style is playful, fun, and creative. I’ve always called myself a ‘sit down comedian’, so now I get a chance to do that for a job! My group always feels like they’ve had a laugh at the end of a session, so they’ve exercised their funny bones as well as all their other joints.

I was born in Adelaide and have lived in Canberra since 1982, apart from four years when I lived on the Bellarine Peninsula in Victoria. I’m an army spouse, and we plan to return to Ocean Grove eventually as we have a house there.

I’m inspired by great comedians such as the Marx Brothers and Buster Keaton, and I love British and Australian comedy, ranging from Monty Python to Kath and Kim. I love incorporating humour into my Ageless Grace sessions, and the free form flow of the classes certainly allows for that.

For two months in 2016 my husband and I travelled to Holland, the UK, and Ireland. We went on a Bike, Barge and Sing tour in Holland, which satisfied my love of singing, eating great food, cycling, and seeing beautiful historic towns. The highlight of the UK part of the tour was the National Trust and Heritage Scotland properties we visited. These organisations are brilliant in every respect; as a marketer, I admire how they do this.

As well as being the first Ageless Grace educator in the ACT, I’m also the first Callanetics instructor. Perhaps it’s something to do with being the firstborn? I love Callanetics; its gentle, no impact movements are brilliant for body tone, core strength, flexibility, and wellbeing. I’m also a keen singer and used to sing in a cappella trio. I’d like to take this up again, or maybe I’ll return to my choir in 2017. I also run three social groups on Meetup; one is a general one, one is for people who have time available for social activities during weekdays, and the other is women only. All this keeps me pretty busy!

Learning how to manage pain while developing body fluidity has been a focus of mine over the last few years. I’m inspired by my Callanetics mentor, lead global trainer Sandra Hanna, and other people who work in the movement industry, such as biomechanist Katy Bowman, Zamuna, Jill Miller, and Sue Hitzmann. And not to mention the very talented and creative Ageless Grace educator and trainer Sue Silcox, who works tirelessly to promote Ageless Grace here in Australia.

If I were to give one piece of advice it would be ‘don’t procrastinate’. Go for your dreams. Take small steps to make it happen. And be tidy. Mess and possessions weigh you down. The older I get, the less I need, but the more creative I want to be.

I’m proud that I’m the first Callanetics AND Ageless Grace educator in the ACT. Both originated in the US; Callanetics in the late 70s, and Ageless Grace in the early 2000s. As a fairly diligent non-exerciser in my younger years, I’d never have guessed that I’d be working in the fitness industry now. I left a corporate career in editing and communications to start my business and I never would have been able to do it without the support of my wonderful husband, Julian.

I have very happy memories of my carefree childhood growing up in Adelaide, going to the beach and the South Australian Museum with my dad, who never seemed to tire of taking me to the Egyptian mummy room. I also have fond memories of Balfours pies and pasties, and Golden North ice-cream. I’ll always be a South Aussie really!

I’d love to be able to fly, who wouldn’t?

I won a Magna sedan once in a competition that I didn’t even realised I’d entered! All I had to do was nominate to pay my electricity in monthly installments, and I went into the draw for car. Months later I received a call at work and I thought they were joking; I’d forgotten all about it! I sold that car and put the money on my mortgage. So maybe I’ll be flying sooner than I think!

First class is FREE. $45 for six-class pass (12 weeks to use), or $10 casual.

Please contact Virginia on 0411 952 598 or virginia.cooke@gmail.com if you plan to attend a class so I can send you directions on how to find your class location. Although The Grove is a private class, I may be able to obtain permission for members of the public to attend with a bit of notice.

Classes

 Day  Time  Location  Cost
 Monday  9:45am- 10:30am  Cooinda Community Centre
Kangara Waters
Belconnen
$45 (6 class pass)
$10 (casual)
 Tuesday 2:00pm- 2:45pm  The Grove Clubhouse
Ngunnawal
$45 (6 class pass)
$10 (casual)
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