My name is Jules Barker (62 years young) and my lovely teacher is Louise Gould.
I began an exercise routine across many fields in a desperate attempt to beat depression. My daughters had ballet classes from the age of three, and when they left home for university at 18 my life was traumatically empty after being filled with children (friends of my daughters, fostered children and childminded children).
When my daughters left home I dropped into a ‘hole’; giving up work and staying in bed until late morning. I began to eat fast food: toast, sandwiches, tinned food from the local shop and drinking alcohol at night. Obviously, my daughters grew concerned as I lost weight, refused to answer the phone and door, and removed myself from social media.
My doctor suggested therapy classes and my therapist suggested exercise with a friend as a buddy. My youngest daughter nominated herself as my buddy and took me to her childhood ballet school when she heard that Silver Swans classes had begun. I’d always enjoyed hearing about my daughters’ progress, watching their performances and longed to have had the chances as a child that they had. My daughter decided that I had enough interest and love for ballet in my heart, despite no experience, that I could let my heart beat my head and have a go.
I was driven to my first class gripped with mixed emotions. My daughter attended my first three classes with me and went over basic principles at home. By my fourth class, I had a meltdown and couldn’t go. My daughter put her foot down and said she’d go alone and tell our teacher that I’d given up, and in so doing shamed me into retracting my decision and returning the following week. My teacher, Louise, was aware of my medical challenge and was very protective, kind, gentle, accommodating and supportive. When my daughter could no longer accompany me, Louise kept eye contact with me all of the time and if I seemed overwhelmed she’d come to the barre next to me to demonstrate an exercise to the class so that I had the closest view, showing me in my body position at the barre as opposed to mirror image.
As I grew more confident, I began to take morning classes too (9.30am!) Within six months I was doing four classes a week, chatting to my new friends and joining them for the occasional coffee at the local farm shop.
Soon my confidence allowed me to conquer my fears that had accumulated over the recent years, and I returned to supermarket shopping, healthy food and to work as a home help to the elderly (because I could work it around my ballet classes!) The following year saw me join a health spa where I grew to love Pilates and yoga which have enhanced my strength and flexibility for my ballet skills.
In 2013 and 2015 I took and passed ballet medals with honours. In July 2018 Louise celebrated 10 years of teaching adults. We marked it by a performance of our skills in two one hour performances to two sell-out audiences, at which I personally introduced one of the routines.
In the past 12 years, I’ve enjoyed life again thanks to the wonderful creation of Silver Swans.
I now love life, ballet, yoga and grandchildren, I’m never home in the day, attend evening classes and am super flexible!