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Information for exercise instructors

Instructor stories

These stories paint a picture of what specialist respiratory exercise is like.

Instructor Barbara Dent in Darlington started out in 2009 and now has two successful classes running, while Siobhan Rogers runs three classes in Haringey and Islington, north London. 

Barbara's story

Barbara runs two Asthma + Lung UK Active groups within the same primary care trust catchment area.

How did you get started? 

“To get my name and classes established, I provided classes  free-of-charge at first. Being able to use Asthma + Lung UK name helped secure the use of a room at a local gym. I approached my local Breathe Easy Support group and offered their members access to my classes. Word of mouth then led to increase in numbers.”

How do you get referrals to your class? 

“With pure passion and informed belief that what I was doing was helping people, I formed good relationships with the local GP and practice nurses; community matrons and the pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) professionals. They then began recommending my classes.

"I now work closely with the PR physiotherapist in the area and attend the last session of each PR course to invite people to attend my classes. Links with PR and other health care professionals may not always come easily but they can be developed with hard work and determination.”

What does a typical class involve?

"I start with a group warm up using Zumba music for a feel-good factor. We then have a circuit session with strengthening and aerobic stations for 1 minute 10 seconds at each. Circuits make it easier to accommodate individual needs and monitor their progress. I am always on hand to help each client at their station.

The combination of uplifting and reminiscent music in the background with simple words of encouragement or light conversation enables people to exercise more than they thought they could.

We do a bit more Zumba to maintain motivation followed by group co-ordination exercises using bean bags, resistance bands or, small rubber balls.

I finish with a group cool down to quieter and more relaxing music. Of course finishing with a round of applause leaves people eager to return next session.

I keep exercises in a two or three week rotation to keep the clients’ interest.

What is your key to success?

“I cannot stress enough that when a person's starting point is breathless, you must have their confidence in order for them they feel safe to progress beyond that point. When exercising with respiratory patients you must apply the mantra: 'It’s not what you do it’s how you do it.'"

Siobhan's story

Siobhan conducts exercise classes for people with respiratory disease in north London. Siobhan's is very popular with the people who attend her classes. One participant was so enthusiastic that it inspired her friend, May Finch, to write a poem about Siobhan on her behalf.

Exercising back to life

I’ve had trouble with my lungs
Wear and tear over the years
Of course the smoking didn’t help
I knew it would end in tears
I had to have some surgery
To help me back to health
It was a bit of a blow, but the fags had to go
I had to take care of myself
My doctor said: “When you’re out of bed
There’s someone I’d like you to see.”
And that’s how I met the lovely Siobhan
As welcome as a good cup of tea!
She taught me how to breathe again
With proper exercise
How to move my body – she really opened my eyes
How to relax and be at ease
Forget the stress and the strife
And I know I speak for the rest of the class
Because she’s given us back a life
So here’s to you, the lovely Siobhan
For your attention and your care
We know that when we need you
You will always be there.