A Visit to Move it or Lose it with Margaret
In November 2023 journalism student, Sian, visited Margaret Wilkinson’s Move it or Lose it class in Ormskirk, Lancashire to film for a university assigment. She enjoyed it so much that she’s written this blog about her visit.
Last October I was beginning to stress slightly all because I needed a story idea for one of my university assignments. I’m a journalism undergrad, so stories about people and journeys are important. I just happened to stumble across a post for Move it or Lose it with Margaret, and after a brief email I had the opportunity to go and film the class. When you hear ‘exercise for older people’ most immediately think of snail’s pace movement and minimal engagement. In all honesty, I may have been one of them, but after seeing the class I realised I was wrong. The whole purpose of my trip to Ormskirk was to film for my assignment, instead, I found myself having to remember to turn my camera on because I was enjoying watching the class so much.
You could tell from the offset that the people attending felt comfortable and that it was their time to move and have fun. The atmosphere was lovely, I’m not easily content but I was smiling the whole time. Margaret (the instructor) took the ladies through different routines which aim to help differing parts of the body. So rubber balls for finger strength or standing on one leg for balance. Everyone started sitting down and they began a ball routine to ‘Que sera sera’, a very catchy routine to the rhythm of the song.
As part of my journalism video, I needed to interview some of the class members about their personal stories and experiences. The love they have for the session and their admiration towards Margaret was so clear. They were all so individual and had their own thoughts to share:
Ann was quite softspoken but still made sure I knew how ‘brilliant’ the class is.
Diana and her newfound flexibility in everyday life.
Sue, the chatty lady who can now walk up the stairs better and found it funny that everyone sits in the same place each week.
Viv, who does the exercises from a chair waved the pom-poms like nobody’s business.
And Jennifer, who shared a memorable benefit of hers, “I can now put my knickers on standing on one foot!”
Some of the exercises really stood out to me, the first being the sit-to-stand. It’s as it sounds, you sit then stand, but it’s all about the personal challenge of how many you can do. It was noticeable that some were more able than others, a few lifting slightly off the chair whilst others did the full rise. But this is what Move it or lose it champions, the fact that classes can be done by anyone and are tailored to your needs. Margaret encouraged everyone regardless of their ability and made sure the exercise was done at a safe but still challenging level. Hearing them all tell her how many they’d achieved and the pride when they had exceeded their previous number was a nice moment.
The second exercise that stuck with me was the game towards the end of the class. That particular week it was a hand-eye coordination game where the ladies got into pairs and had to throw a ball and beanbag back and forth simultaneously. I was surprised to see many of the pairs used razor-sharp focus to compete with their surrounding class members. A few didn’t do so well at the coordination part, I certainly wouldn’t, but that didn’t stop them from having a blast. Everyone was smiling, laughing and getting involved. There were even some new introductions made between class members who hadn’t spoken before which proved the class makes it easy to socialise.
Music was a big part of the class, every exercise had a tune, mostly classics. The class members were loving it. In much of my footage, you could see someone mouthing along to the music, (Sue was nonstop), which added to the positive atmosphere. From asking the ladies what their favourite part was, the music was mentioned a few times. Viv specifically said, “My favourite part is the music and the people. It’s music of our era, very nostalgic.”
Through observing that single session I think I have been shown what Move it or Lose it is all about and how nationally it has so much to offer. As Margaret was keen for me to understand, MIOLI is for everyone, at any ability and you are succeeding by just turning up to a session.
See Sian’s video from Margaret’s class below.