The Story of Jean Grove
For those who dont know me so on top of teaching Pilates I also teach Bellydancing - and during the lockdown I was contacted by Jean who wanted me to teach her to bellydance..... In any normal circumstances I would have been happy to teach anyone bellydance but Jean was very limited in mobility, pretty much disabled. Most of the vertebrae in her back where either cracked or broken due to years of osteoarthritis and osteporosis and a few accidents- she had a number of operations, problems with her hips and knees etc she could stand bent forward and shuffle her feet aided with a stick to walk around the house. Things got a lot worse for her as she reached her 70s birthday and from there it went from bad to worse but she was so eager to learn to bellydance that I decided to take this impossible mission on just to cheer her up.
We started to work once a week for 30 minutes on zoom - Jean was seated on a chair and I had to develop gentle and yet effective exercises for her to start activating her core muscles so they can support her spine. We worked on upper body only for the first 6 weeks while Jean did her "homework" every day and by week 6 Jean showed me how she stood upright. I was amazed myself. She hasnt been able to straighten her back for years. From this point I was very encouraged to give it my all - Jean had to learn how to walk again as her body didnt remember how to use the muscles in her legs and how does it feel to be standing up right - by week 9 she was walking properly unaided. By week 10 we managed to actually work on the strength of her legs and knees and she started to do exercises on a mat!!!!!!!!!!! Yes she was able to go down to the mat and come back up unaided.
By week 12 - Jean amazed me with her strength and positive attitude and I have allowed her to join my Bellydance technique class - she was on her feet for one hour did everything with us. The most important thing is that Jean is pain free. She forgot how it feels to be pain free and able. She cant stop smiling and she is so happy.
She knew that I will be teaching her to bellydance. I still cant believe it myself.
Jean taught me a lesson - to never underestimate the will power and positive attitude of a person and never give up on anyone. Jean wanted me to tell her story as she wants to inspire people at any age to take actions and make an effort to change their quality of life. She said "inactivity is NOT the answer" and she is a living proof to this statement.
The more she does the more she can do. I am so pleased to be able to enable Jean to have a better quality of life and something to look forward to like a nice holiday for her and Brian.
View this short video to see how Jean progressed with her walking unaided
View this short video to see Jean learning to have graceful arms while dancing
June 2021 : An update on Jean's since this video - you can watch her testimonial in the Real life stories page- she is doing very well and she is very happy to be active and able. I still see her every week and she does her exercises every day without fail. Her husband is so happy to have an able wife and not one in a wheelchair. Jean walks to the shops on her own now and go for walks in the park and she is so happy but she is happiest when she bellydance. She cant stop smiling. ....
Jean also had her annual check up with her consultant who was most surprised to see her walking upright to his office... and he agreed that she doesnt need any further operations or pain clinics etc
On top Jean's COPD annual check up showed that her lung capacity has improved - despite getting older in a year.......
She is over the moon.
Update - a year on - what a difference...
Jean is planning her 80th Birthday and we are planning to bellydance together for her guests.............
Jean had many injuries and accidents since childhood but she summarises below the last 40 years of injuries:
"In the 80s I fell through a barbed wire fence in Austria and had a 5” deep gash on my skull and was operated on to glue my head together.
I had a nasty vertebral collapse and soft tissue damage caused by becoming addicted to my laptop and hunching too much, weight gain and lack of exercise. My whole body became paralysed and My GP came to my flat to manipulate my spine, given me acupuncture and massage every day for a week, during which time I had to lay completely flat. Going to the loo was an enormous effort.
2006 fell down and broke every bone in my left wrist and still have the 7” titanium plate in it.
2011 on my 70th birthday I fell down 5 of the stone steps outside my flat and taken to King’s College Hospital and told I had severe soft tissue injuries.
Referred to the” Falls clinic” and told I have osteoarthritis and the DEXA scan revealed osteoporosis. Referred to a Consultant Rheumatologist at Lewisham hospital and an x-ray there showed 14 small fractures in my back.
2020 Fell down the carpeted stairs between our 2 floors and taken to King’s College Hospital with a head and shoulder injuries. Had 10 stitches in my head and lots of tests. I couldnt even stand propery let alone being mobile and was in constant pain.
Now I do one hour or two hours every day of Naama’s wonderful mix of Pilates and Belly Dancing exercises and I have never felt happier in my life and completely pain free."