This is a guest post from the Exercise, Movement and Dance Partnership.
We’re kicking off Women’s Sport Week by talking to Margaret Charlwood, Medau instructor and national display team choreographer, whose team are currently at the Golden Age Gym Festival in Slovenia.
Hi Margaret. Thanks for taking the time to chat to us. So, as you know, it’s Women’s Sport Week and we’re talking to a whole range of women across the fitness sector. We know you’re a fitness teacher, tell us a little bit about that; how did you get into it, what classes do you teach, what’s your favourite thing about being a teacher and what would you say to anyone who wants to become a teacher?
Many years ago, I trained as a Medau teacher and before that I was a qualified dance teacher. I have run Medau classes for mothers and toddlers, teenagers, mainstream adult education classes and people with various disabilities. I now teach active older people and frail elderly. It is very rewarding work to observe how all students become more confident and enjoy moving their bodies and have an awareness of the importance of good posture.
We know you teach Medau and have done for a while. For those people who don’t know, can you tell us what Medau is?
It’s a wonderful system and style of moving; very rhythmical dynamic with emphasis on mobilising and stretching through the whole body. The music/rhythm and movement, sometimes with the use of small hand apparatus to influence the movement, are closely linked which adds interest, stimulates and gives you a feel good factor.
And you’re a pretty big name in Medau; you’re the choreographer for the national display team. What does that entail and how did it start?
The Medau Display Team was started many years ago in order to train a team of experienced movers to be a ‘shop window’ for Medau . The Medau team demonstrates at many prestigious events and festivals. The team meets to rehearse and learn new displays approximately every three weeks depending on our commitments.
Team Medau are in Slovenia at the moment, at the Golden Age Gym Festival. What will they be getting up to? What’s their schedule like?
The Golden Age Gymnastics Festivals are not competitive. Each country and discipline will demonstrate their style of moving and perform in special arenas. Medau has gained a very good reputation and we have large audiences to watch our performances. The team will be taking part in two different workshops every day and performing their special display in beautiful venues in the evenings. I will be teaching two Medau Movement workshops each day; these workshops are very popular and people from many different countries including Finland, Norway, Russia, Japan, and others come to experience our work.
As part of Team GB, do the ladies have a team uniform or kit?
Yes, we have tracksuits with Great Britain on the back and matching T shirts with the Medau logo, together with our special display outfits.
Three years ago, you received the British Empire Medal for services to exercise. Was that a surprise? How did it make you feel?
When I received the letter from the Cabinet Office informing me that I was to be awarded the British Empire Medal, I was gobsmacked; it was such a surprise. It was a very exciting event receiving the medal, watched by my family, and then the visit to Buckingham Palace to a garden party. It was a moment I shall treasure and I was so thrilled that Medau Movement had been mentioned.
As a woman in sport, do you ever face any challenges or judgements?
Not really. Most of my students are older people, mostly women. Men are more reluctant to take part in group exercise classes.
Has anyone ever said anything negative to you about women doing exercise or personally about your training style?
No, most people enjoy our style of exercise and are very committed to attending regularly and there is always a very upbeat lighted atmosphere.
In your opinion, do you feel that women in sport are well-represented?
Yes, more so now which is good.
What do you believe are the barriers to women taking part in sport or group exercise?
Some people feel they are not the right body shape and will not be able to keep going, lack of motivation and finding time.
Now is your time to inspire more people to start their fitness journey! What are your words of inspiration for them?
It is a wonderful career, you will enjoy the opportunity to keep yourself in good shape, more importantly you will inspire others to realise how important it is to keep exercising and have an awareness of the body and how you move.