Tuesday 27 June 2017

vital and often ignored ingredients to a good life

I live longer and longer and so do we all with luck. I have a duty to myself to make my last years the most fun and the best I can.

However old you are, be it a two year old, fifty year old or eighty and over, we need to find our own voice. A two year old will kick and scream to be heard, by eighty you will have learnt a better way. The in between is what it is all about. I liken it to climbing an extremely high rugged mountain with all its elements and no guide. With sunny days, dark days, terrifying days, beautiful days surprising days. Frequent challenges, self-discoveries. Each year becomes an achievement to be proud of. During my climb I met and found my best friend and learnt how to value her, respect her, love her. It took work through unchartered emotions to recognize that was me. She taught me how to listen to silence, to enjoy my own company, spend time with my mind allowing it to meander through thoughts with no direction.

We’ve all learnt how important our sleep is. That nourishing food helps to keep us healthy. That regular exercise helps with stress and aging. Thanks to my mother (Lotte Berk) I’m still running my own exercise classes which have proved to me putting all these elements together does improve well being as I age.

There is one vital and often ignored ingredient to a good life and that is humour, laughing, curiosity, questioning, behaving badly, being mischievous, having fun, enjoying the moment.

I dare you.

Wednesday 24 May 2017

Angels do exist.

New York New York. Did I ever? No I never. Out of a clear blue sky two new friends appeared. Jill and her good friend Dina. Jill is writing a thesis on my mother, Lotte Berk in search of the truth and clarify the amusing myths about my mother. She came to my studio to try out a couple of my classes and was amazed at how different they were compared to the Barre classes she attended in America, all claiming to have developed them from the original Lotte Berk Technique.

Jill spoke about the loss of the exquisite authentic technique my mother devised to her good friend Dina who happens to have a thriving PR company in New York. Whoosh, before I knew it I was on a plane with my friend and helper Bernie. ‘Time waits for no man’. Next day was full on New York style. A video interview for Self Magazine, Q+A master class for several women’s magazines. Photoshoot.  I pause a moment remembering the adorable young photographer, just because I’m nudging 83 hasn’t stopped my appreciation for adorable fit men - I know my place.

My experience working with these young fit women was a revelation. Their response to my work was pure delight but also shock at how very different the work was to Barre which they assumed would be more Lotte.

Barre now is big business, very commercial, a huge industry, extremely slick and very little Lotte. I am excited and thrilled that Jill has taken on the task of bringing Lotte’s work back into focus recognising Lotte’s philosophy and the pure essence of her technique not to be confused with the fitness world.

I have been working solo for a long time to bring Lotte’s technique back and have with great delight trained Kelly, who runs her own studio in California, Lisa in New York and Tina in Zurich, all keeping the Lotte technique authentic and genuine. I won’t give up on mother’s work. Einstein is still valued and so is my mother.  

My trip was enhanced by Bernie by my side, a constant help, ready to pop music on, fetch my whip, hold my hand when I was exhausted, call a cab and end the day with a gin and tonic and nuts.

My time in New York was fantastic and exhilarating. I loved every second and I met the most delightful people I wish they lived on my doorstep. 

Thank you to my two new best friends. Angels do exist.

Monday 27 February 2017

I live in the shadow of my mother’s dementia, it haunts me.

I live in the shadow of my mother’s dementia, it haunts me. 

I have passed the age when my mother’s dementia started to show. I have a lighthearted silly side to my nature. I keep asking myself, is it a sign as I have a playful moment and tease my students in class. I play the fool, maybe I am a fool. I lose words, they float away, oh yes, they come back but not at the moment that I need them, they return a day late. And what was I  saying?  And have I already mentioned I had lunch with Mary? Or was it Judith? I think my memory is getting worse. 

Have I always been like this or has my forgetfulness crept up on me? Is it inherited? Should I get myself tested? Yes, I am frightened, not of dying, of my mind dying.

I live in the shadows of my mother’s dementia.

Wednesday 4 January 2017

Esther’s Christmas lecture

Well that’s Christmas over, now in only a few days New Year will be over.

Are you stuck with left overs, half eaten tins of biscuits, box of chocolates? Will they still be around as New Year looms and passes? Did you enjoy that extra glass or two or three and now regret you gave in to your relatives and friends telling you, “Well it’s Christmas……it only comes around once a year……go on, you deserve it”.

I hate giving advice, no one likes to hear it. We already know what’s best for us. So I suggest you ignore my advice. Which is firstly make no resolutions. Do not go on a diet, do not have a wish list for what you want to achieve in the new year. Wishes are fine if you live in fairy land. Stop wanting and start doing.

Question and challenge yourself and your old habits and beliefs, they may need refreshing, you may not be in control of your life but you are in the driving seat.

Trust and believe in yourself. No one knows you better than you. Listen to your inner voice. And most of all, blame no one.

Happy New Year.

Tuesday 22 November 2016

Which do you choose and why?

You’re sitting on a park bench in a park. Families and dogs are milling about. When a very large tiger comes over to your bench and sits down next to you. No one seems to notice a large fury tiger sitting next to you.
He says hello and is obviously friendly. He offers you four things he can do for you but you’re only allowed to choose one.

First, the tiger offers you boxing lessons and puts up his paws.

Second, he offers you dancing classes and stands on his back legs and does a twirl.

Third, he offers to teach you to build your own aeroplane.

Fourth, he offers to put his paws around you, hug and kiss you and love you forever.

Which do you choose and why?

email: claude@jofairfaxstudio.com

Wednesday 19 October 2016

Lotte Berk Workshop

 After I finished my training with my mother Lotte Berk, I would pop up to London regularly and enjoy a class with her. This kept me on my toes, kept me stimulated and up to date with her work. I miss her keen eye, her integrity, her enthusiasm.

I have had to learn that I need to do this for myself. I realize that we all need to keep standards up to scratch, which gave me the idea of starting to run a weekend workshop for my trainees. My trainees are fantastic and I’m proud of them. It would be fantastic for them to meet up once a year. They would benefit from a regular workout together as I did from going to my Mother.

I hope that this could be an interesting experience seeing each other’s work. Asking questions and discussion. We could learn from each other. We could learn a lot from each other. Give each other feedback, clarify any problems. Discussing ideas so we can learn from each other, keeping the Lotte Berk standard at a peak. This workshop is open to anyone who has or is being trained by me or one of my teachers. We welcome you with open arms. It’s going to be fun, engaging and meaningful.
Booking now is available for next year, 2017.

email: claude@jofairfaxstudio.com


Tuesday 6 September 2016

Eccentric upbringing

Kelly trained with me in the authentic Lotte Berk technique and opened her own studio in California last year. Recently she suggested I write a blog as her students were so interested in Lotte, her life and her sex life. Sex, sex, sex. Yes, there was a lot of it. In my teens I was amazed that I had not turned to prostitution as a career, but happily I must have been about 12 when mother decided I was old enough for her to tell all. Well I wasn’t and as a role model it didn’t work for me.

I squirmed with embarrassment and discomfort. One day, rather bravely and brazenly I actually accused her of being a prostitute. Well, there is no need for me to explain her huge reaction. First was the deadly silence, then the aftermath. I even made it worse by asking my uncle Frank and his wife, also called Esther, to adopt me. I can’t imagine how my mother felt. No wonder she thought I was a difficult child. Now, in my mature years, I am rather pleased to have had such an eccentric upbringing. It held me in a good place for all my life lessons.

So, thanks mother.