By Holly Brouker
Wellness Coordinator, CIP Berkshire
• Bodies are made to move – which is why we have bones, muscle, and joints. We learn about strengthening bones, increasing muscle strength and flexibility, and how to develop an improved range of motion through the various forms of exercise practiced in our sessions. Ex. Zumba, steppers, stretching, speed walking, circuits, exercise bands
• Taking good care of our bodies allows us to not only look and feel better, yet we are learning to use and care for all body parts, inside and out, to work more efficiently and endure more through our efforts. Ex. Wearing workout gear, posture practice, good hygiene, nutrition, proper sleep habits
• Students have reported, just as numerous studies have shown, prior to exercise feelings of low energy, depression, stress, anxiousness; after exercise, students state feeling more relaxed, happy, relieved and energized, and ready to take on the day. Ex. Students write in journals before and after each wellness session
• Exercise sessions assist students to connect with each other. While working out together they are encouraged to lead, motivate, and work together in various activities, resulting in fun and laughter (another stress release). Ex. Assist & encourage each other, teamwork, common interest conversations, partner ball skills
• Students are encouraged to exercise on their own throughout their day or with a roommate or friend to get the preventative benefits while lessening anxiety, depression, anger, and overall well-being due to regular exercise habits. Ex. Recommended exercises for apartment workouts, walking independently or socially with others, playing ball games
• Effort Muscle – As students become stronger in mind, body, and spirit through their efforts and achievements during exercise sessions, they can then utilize that same effort toward all other challenging aspects of their lives. Ex. Trying their hardest, attempting new challenges, not saying “I can’t”, listening to directions, learning through modifications, reflex/reaction training
• Endurance – Through continual workouts students are gaining the strength necessary to sustain an active life; thus being more confident and able to perform with more focus and success on the job or with their studies. Ex. Outdoor fitness, soccer, hiking, Speed walks for distance, hill climbs, longer and more strenuous circuit, weight training – mind in muscle activities
• Warm ups – A 10 min. warm up is encouraged to get the heart pumping, blood flowing into all the extremities, muscles warm and elevate the mood. Ex. Cardio equipment, steppers, mini trampoline, burpees, jumping jacks, etc.
• Circuits – Target the specific muscle groups so students can identify their strengths and weakness. Beginner level and advanced levels are offered so each student can work at the level best suited to their fitness level. Ex. Targeting legs, core, upper body, cardio through various stations for varied time durations
• Coordination skills – throwing, catching, foot work, agility, rhythm, steppers, reflexes are all elements of both individual and group challenges so that students can become more aware of proprioceptors and movements within their own space. Ex. Brain gym/catching patterns, reflex ball game, Zumba, step routines, Outdoor fitness utilizing the lay of the land to exercise
• Relaxation and Mindfulness – Exercise is used to alleviate anxiety and stress from the body and mind. Slowing down movements and breathing instills a calmness throughout the body’s systems. Being mindful of each moment by focusing on the movement such as body scan or Yoga can eliminate stressful past and future thoughts. Ex. Yoga, Meditation, Walking meditation, sitting at the ledges, calming the mind on the mat, listening to quiet music and mental imagery
• Body Awareness – Through participation in various activities and exercises, students are led to understand the challenges they are attempting to overcome. Performing a movement, repeating the movement correctly, navigating their bodies and it’s parts, listening to their heart rates, breathing patterns and recognition of the overall feelings that encompass their entire being, are basics in development of better body awareness.
About the Author:
Holly is the Wellness Coordinator at CIP Berkshire. She began her career working in Special Education facilities for youths with severe emotional issues. Holly continues to research and stay current in the Wellness field by bringing a diverse choice of exercise opportunities to all the students at the Berkshire Center as well as taking many courses through Elm’s College Autism Studies department. Holly is persistent in attending workshops on Nutritional guidance and most recently Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction training. She has a BS in Health & Physical Education from the University of Massachusetts and and MEd in Organization/Management from Antioch University New England.