Every week, during the past five years, twenty Sisters from Maison Jésus-Marie, some still a youthful 85 and others approaching their one hundredth birthday, benefit from fitness classes. Bearing in mind that “moving knows no age”, Sister Pierrette Désilets carefully prepares her 30 minute classes respecting each one’s physical capabilities.
"The primary objective is to get them to move a little and have a pleasant experience. It is not rare to see several of them smiling broadly. I must say that I like to put a little touch of humor into my classes", she says enthusiastically.
A teacher for 35 years, Sister Pierrette has lent her support to Maison Jésus-Marie since its opening in 2005. Five years ago, she was approached by Sisters Maryse Moisan and Gisèle Lalande who are in charge of the Recreational Committee at Maison Jésus-Marie, to give fitness classes.
A little astonished at the outset by such a request, Sister Pierrette needed a few minutes of reflection before saying "yes". Remembering that she had already followed aqua fitness classes and courses in physical exercise during her time in Sainte-Élie d’Orford, she began looking for materials that could help her meet this new challenge.
Over a period of time, she was able to get some materials from Kino-Québec, including audio tapes and exercise sheets. “I managed to use all the audio tapes over the course of the last two years”, proudly stated Sister Pierrette. Since then, she has added some CD’s and other components to her supply, that help her with her task.
Even now, Sister Pierrette prepares her classes carefully using a variety of movements which lead the Sisters to discover the benefits of doing simple exercises of relaxation and coordination. She includes, of course, breathing exercises at the beginning of each session. "Plus, I always reserve five minutes at the end for relaxation to clear the mind and to help the Sisters enjoy the moment. It's a precious five minutes that nobody wants to miss.”
If, at the beginning, the sessions were reserved exclusively for Sisters from the Saint-André Pavilion, today we find participants from this pavilion as well as some from the 2nd floor and the ground floor of the Saint-Charles Pavilion of Maison Jésus-Marie. Sister Pierrette relies on Sister Gisèle Lalande’s help to bring all her people together in the room reserved for this activity.
At one point, Sister Pierrette was holding two sessions per week at Maison Jésus-Marie. Today, she offers one weekly session, leaving her free to offer another fitness session, this time at Marie-Rose-Durocher Residence in Montreal.
At 86, Sister Pierrette notices the daily impact of aging on her sisters. Glad to have taken up the challenge presented, she simply wants to give her Sisters the means to stay healthy as long as possible. It is a unique way of keeping herself active and in good physical shape.
*The first photos show the followers of these sessions in an imaginary swimming pool...