Archive for Thursday, January 17, 2008

Mind, body and soul

Yoga and Pilates instructor Sacha helping people of all ages develop healthy habits

January 17, 2008

It's hard to believe, but Sacha Dick actually failed the Presidential Physical Fitness test when she was in second grade. That's probably the last time anyone could say the 35-year-old yoga and Pilates instructor was out of shape.

Dick was a military brat and always was active as a child, whether it was gymnastics and swimming or weight lifting when she was in college. But her initial experience with yoga left her unimpressed.

"The first time I took yoga was probably about 12 years ago, and I couldn't stand it," she said. "I was into personal training and body building and teaching aerobics, so I was on the fast track move, move, move. The first class I went into I had to sit still and be quiet. I had a really hard time with it so I didn't go back to it for a few years."

She went back to it about seven years later and she has been a certified teacher of both yoga and Pilates for the last five years. She now teaches classes at the Eudora Community Center, as well as two stress relief yoga classes in Olathe.

"It's a whole mind-body experience," Dick said. "A lot of people come into the class and they think that it's just stretching - it's just sitting there. But the more you take the class, the more you realize you learn to relax and you learn to take those skills and apply them to your everyday life.

"You learn to just stop and breathe instead of getting stressed out. You can feel yourself calming because mentally you can take yourself back to the class."

However, Dick said yoga was just one piece of the overall health puzzle.

"It's not a cardiovascular workout to keep your body fit, and you need to do the weight training to keep the muscles in shape, and then the yoga brings in the flexibility and the mind experience," she said. "So, you really need all of that to have a well-rounded balance. You need it all to be a healthy person."

It was the birth of her daughter, Mallory, nearly two years ago that led her to her newest pursuit of fitness for kids. She was working as the executive director of the Southeastern Association of Fire Chiefs, which was a job that kept her on the road more than she liked. But it was on a business trip that an acquaintance told her about Stretch-n-Grow, a Seminole, Fla.,-based franchise of exercise programs that has the goal of establishing a healthy lifestyle in children.

After researching the company, Dick and her husband, Shawn, went to Stretch-n-Grow headquarters to find out more. She mistakenly thought that she was going to have to spend the whole weekend trying to interest Shawn in the company.

"Friday night - after having a half day with them (Stretch-n-Grow representatives) - my husband is very skeptical. He's an accountant, so he was running all of the numbers and asking lots of questions - so that night he was more excited than I was," she said.

She has been doing Stretch-n-Grow for a little over a year now. She offers classes at the Eudora Community Center, as well as Lawrence childcare centers Kinder Care Learning Center and Montessori Children's House.

"This is an opportunity to teach children before they get into school before they create the bad habits to exercise, to incorporate it in their day," she said.

Dick also teaches classes every week at Pyramid Preschool in Eudora and every other week at the home daycare of Eudora resident Stacy Katzenmeier.

"I think it's very important because we see such a lack of activity in children's lives as they get older," Katzenmeier said.

Classes last a little over 30 minutes, and subjects such as nutrition, safety and self-esteem are discussed. Exercises that are done incorporate songs and lively activities, such as using paper plates to mimic birds.

"We take everyday objects and just have fun, but at the same time say, 'Hey, by the way, you're doing a push-up,' or 'You're doing a jumping jack,'" Dick said.

The kids are buying into the healthy lifestyle they are learning.

"Over the holidays, I said, 'Now there are going to be a lot of cookies and lots of candy and this is a special treat so only eat a little bit at a time,'" Dick said. "And then they'd come in and say 'I only ate one cookie and I ate all of my broccoli' and tell me how good they were."

Socialization is another positive part of the Stretch-n-Grow experience.

"The kids are right at that age where they're starting to interact with each other a little bit more," Dick said. "Before that, they're kind of in their own world. So, they learn to exercise and learn and play and share."

Although nobody signed up for the Stretch-n-Grow session at the community center this month, which is a function of the difficulty the Parks and Recreation Department is having with letting the public know about activities in their new building, Dick is staying plenty busy.

"Right now I'm comfortable where I am," she said. "I'd like to focus on growing Stretch-n-Grow to the point where I hire a couple of coaches to go teach a couple of classes for me. I'm almost maxed out on what I can teach and still be able to work half-days and come home to spend the afternoons with Mallory."

Her yoga classes are from 7:45 to 8:45 p.m. on Tuesdays until Feb. 26 and Pilates classes are from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. on Tuesdays until Feb. 26 and from 7:45 to 8:45 p.m. on Thursdays until Feb. 28. Both classes are at the Eudora Community Center and cost $55.

Call 423-1150, or send an email to sachafire@sunflower.com for more information.

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