Sunday, October 2, 2022

Janice Lennard: Staying Fit in My 70s and Avoiding Injuries

janice lennard
Janice Lennard

*Now in my early 70’s, I am often reminded of the degree to which the regular practices of ballet barre, yoga and pilates have been of benefit to people of my generation! My personal discovery of those benefits of retaining the vigor, stamina and stability of health in body and mind of my younger years compels me to share those practices with the like-minded!

Lately, I have asked myself who, other than my family members, would have thought that this native child of the sweltering, albeit intoxicating, cultural philosophy of “laissez les bon temps rouler ..”, and culinary indulgences of the city of New Orleans, would embrace the challenges of engaging in a career as a fitness athlete? Who would believe that such a person would develop the levels of expertise required for teaching ballet barre, yoga and pilates, in the gyms, country clubs, residences of senior citizens, and skilled nursing homes of the California desert, in the Palm Springs area, in what would consider the twilight of her life?

Generally speaking, the process has unfolded as follows:

In my early fifties, after nearly 35 – 40 years of engaging in intensely demanding dance routines of ballet, jazzercise, hip-hop, and tap which challenged the physiology and mechanics of the joints and muscles of my aging ankles, knees, lower back and neck, I increasingly incorporated the practices of ballet barre, yoga and pilates into my daily routines as a means of enhancing my stamina and stress tolerance. The demands of practicing and regularly dancing alongside Alexander Godunov, Cyd Charise, and others  in my 40s and 50s at the Lichine Ballet Academy in Beverly Hills had taken a toll on my body!

*by my early sixties, I had begun to increase my efforts in the practice and teaching of ballet barre, yoga and pilates while limiting my dance routines to ballet barre exercises, and decreasing the jazz, hip-hop and tap activity.

*by my mid-sixties, my repertoire of ballet barre, yoga, and pilates was more advanced, my teaching activities began to increase, and I had ceased my demanding dance activities altogether, except in a social context.

Through it all, at 72 years of age, I have remained physically fit because of my ballet barre, yoga and pilates exercises. Those provide the stretching, flexibility, focus, and mind-body control that foster the expansion of the kinesthetic boundaries and the capabilities which I seek: Good posture, strength of core muscle groups of the legs, hips, shoulders, arms, neck; overall flexibility; and gracefulness.

Fortunately, because I have been blessed with good health and have done my best to preserve it through continuing to learn, practice, and teach what I have learned over the decades to my seniority, at 72, I seem to have the same flexibility, muscle tone, balance, and weight which I had in my 30’s! Of course, I must admit that the ultimate credit for my habitus must be given to my parents, Jules and Evelyn Leal, who retained their youthfulness into their 90’s.

  Born in 1942 in New Orleans, Louisiana, Janice Lennard has been involved with ballet, yoga and Pilates through study, practice, and instruction for over 65 years. Her early immersion in artistic expression through dance probably explains her ability to project an aura of positioning perfection, fulfillment of purpose, and sheer fun for the observer of her beautifully synchronized motion.  For more, visit: www.janicelennard.com.

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