Friday, October 26, 2012

History of Body Recall

By Dorothy Chrisman, founder of Body Recall

I have been asked how we receive so many invitations to do workshops all over the nation. I would like to say it is because the good news of Body Recall is much sought after medically, as an aid in pre and post surgery. It is a ministry in the church for the graying members of the congregation, and it is a fitness program capable of attracting huge enrollments for large organizations like the YMCA, Parks and Recreation Departments or Community Education Programs. There is also much interest among special groups like AARP, the Arthritis Foundation, MS, Black Lung, Nursing Homes, Senior Citizens Centers, Convents, Diabetes Association, Organizations for the Mentally Disabled, and Elderhostels. From the beginning of Body Recall, we have presented free workshops that give opportunity for groups to see older men and women performing fitness sequences, adding credibility to the fact that fitness is not age-related, but life-style related! Body Recall demonstration pieces are fascinating to watch. Following a brief lecture and work through of some Body Recall exercises, audiences understand better that simple and easy movement can produce body awareness and significant readiness for living. Older students are interesting, charming, alive with energy, intelligent and social. Travelers have the stamina to cover many miles in a day, and they have the ability to tote their own equipment from the travel van to workshop locations, can sleep well in different places, are free to leave home, and express well what they have gained while participating in the program. Their endurance, in spite of age, is directly related to the “recall” they have enjoyed through their classes, and they happily share a good message. We made ourselves available and were willing to go out to people at a time when exercise was not popular or recommended. We were a bright spot in the “dark ages” before the exercise for everybody era.

Seeing is believing. That is the miracle of the spread of Body Recall. No one would have paid to have a presentation of an exercise program for adults in the 1970’s when Body Recall was first developing. Few adults would have paid to take an exercise class on campus in the first place. Berea College announced they would offer such a class for adults over 55 and there would be no fee. The fun and success for the students rippled through the community, and in just two or three weeks it was obvious the group needed to be divided into more than one class. A new style of teaching and the selection of materials was different from the gymnasium experience the students had known in their youth. They were eager for information and opportunities in movement that they could do. Immediately, their quality of life began to improve. They wanted to tell it!

Workshops were more than a chance to observe adults exercising. All audiences were given the opportunity to experience the refreshment of the pain-free, risk-free, possible exercises before the demonstration. Even before our textbook, Body Recall: A PROGRAM OF PHYSICAL FITNESS FOR ADULTS, was available, the first travel team from Berea, Kentucky was participating in adult conferences and meetings through invitations of Berea College alumni, and through connections by the students, themselves, in and out of the community. Groups were asking for more information about the program, the forthcoming book, and how they could establish such programs in their own communities. Following the book publication, all travel was financed by book sales during workshops, and not by the travelers, themselves. Further, the option to go on trips was entirely up to the students and the amount of space in the vehicle. A core of students was especially interested in the workshop process, and that made it easier to schedule every appointment with confidence we could appear.

Team uniforms were suggested by a college alumnus, who supplied them as a gift. The chairs used by team members in demonstrations were a gift from a Wisconsin chair manufacturer. A travel van was purchased by Director, Dorothy Chrisman, who was planning an extensive tour to California for a convention of the National Conference on Aging.

As the need for more financial support grew, the Director selected a group of six students to serve on a Board of Trustees for the newly incorporated group that successfully applied for tax-exempt, non-profit status. At this point in the history, 1981, Dorothy Chrisman made a gift of the textbook to the corporation so that major financial support would be insured. Body Recall expanded its teacher training program from two weeks in the summer as a college conference, to year around dates of at least one training a month. The first staff member was hired to assist the Director with scheduling and office matters.

The need for a “home” for Body Recall to grow independently required the purchase of land for a Headquarters. With the help of contributions, book sales, training fees, and frugal management, Body Recall, INC. was able to pay cash for 14 acres with a building that could house the business aspects of the organization in Berea, Kentucky. The first expansion project occurred almost immediately to supply one classroom/ training room in the building, and the cost ($100,000) was raised by Body Recall. Twelve years later we expanded again, installing a geothermal heating/cooling system and adding space for another classroom, four offices, storage, a teacher’s lounge, and a manager’s apartment. These changes were financed by individual contributions, book sales, training fees, student contributions nationwide, and through the Body Recall Alliance, a network that financially supports the purposes of Body Recall, INC., which includes all certified Teachers and other interested individuals.

Body Recall is not a franchised program, and so it operates to a large extent
on donations, which are most welcome.

It is obvious to our organization that more teachers are needed to usher more adults into lifetime fitness. Our nation is in the grip of a health care crisis that requires economical measures, as the population ages, to effectively stop premature loss of independence and “rust out.” Certified Body Recall teachers have offered classes in 46 states of the nation, yet leadership of this program is not keeping pace with the demand. Our new facility in Berea will accommodate larger training groups as well as local classes. Our exemplary training programs include effective management of classes for adults who are able to enroll in their home areas. Training for those working with Special Populations has been available since 1989 in Nursing Homes, Senior Citizens Centers and for other special groups who do not have access to typical classes. Our 29 years of experience in training and certification have delivered a great impact on the nation for which Body Recall has received national and international recognition.

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Body Recall, Inc. is a 501(c)3 Organization. Donations are deductable for U.S. federal income tax purposes.