This month we are featuring one of our favorite healthy lifestyle instructors, Atsuko Hewett, who conducts our weekly Stretch and Balance classes. Her philosophy on living well, especially exercising well, is perfectly suited to our members’ needs. It is simply this:

To enjoy our life to its fullest potential every single day, we need to keep our bodies healthy. We can achieve this by eating real (not processed) food and exercising regularly. As we grow older, we need to help our bodies maintain strong bones and muscles and good balance.

Atsuko’s reasoning for becoming a Gilda’s instructor was simple, too. As she puts it: “I had to exercise anyway, and doing it by myself wasn’t fun. I thought I would enjoy exercising more if I had someone else to exercise with me. So, two years ago, I offered to do stretch and balance exercises at Gilda’s.”

Atsuko explains how she approaches the students in her Stretch and Balance classes. “I don’t push the students to do the same things that I do. I give them the option to do as much as they can. Because I don’t know other people’s pain thresholds or health conditions, I interpret my role as instructor as helping them to expand their own personal boundaries. Each student’s flexibility level is different. For example, those who don’t have good balance are encouraged to use a chair for support when we do balance exercises. Typically, I will demonstrate the postures first and then encourage the participants to mimic me as well as they can. It makes me happy to see my students improve their flexibility and balance little by little.”

Atsuko knows firsthand that muscle tone, posture, balance and bone strength CAN be improved over time. “Before I began karate I couldn’t do the splits nor could I touch my head to the floor from a sitting position. As I persevered with my karate and yoga classes, I was eventually able to master these positions. Now I am thrilled to encourage others to reach these levels of flexibility.”

In case you were wondering, Atsuko is a Japanese name. And our Atsuko grew up in Mihara in the Hiroshima prefecture in Japan. She attended and graduated from University in Tokyo with a major in Art Studies. She and her husband raised their two children in Seattle. When the kids graduated from University and the couple found themselves with an “empty nest,” they moved down to Palm Desert.

Atsuko recalls how she became interested in exercising. “When the Karate Kid movie was a big hit, our kids started to take karate classes. My husband and I joined them soon after. The four of us did karate for nearly ten years together. It was an important aspect of our family life. Today I do tai chi, Jazzercise and golf to keep my body healthy–and of course my classes at Gilda’s!”

In Japanese, Atsuko means warm, deep, true and sincere. Those at Gilda’s who know her, can attest that our own dear Atsuko definitely lives up to her name.

Stretch and Balance classes at Gilda’s with Atsuko take place every Wednesday and are open to all Gilda’s Desert Cities members.

Let us know if you would like to join, call: 760 770-5678 or email.

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