Health & Wellbeing at Feel Good Fridays

Every Friday morning, the Cabin hosts ‘Feel Good Friday’ sessions, working to boost the health and wellbeing of the women of Poplar. We spoke to the wonderful Chris who leads them, about what happens in the class and why you should come along too!

What are the Feel Good Friday sessions?

‘Feel Good Friday’ is a concept which fuses many things. In the sessions we look at the teachings of Mindfulness, well-being, healthy lifestyle tips, meditation practices, relaxation techniques, and exercise. The theoretical teaching aids better understanding to contextualize understanding of the principles behind Mindfulness.

For now, the sessions are women only, with most of the participants between 30-50+ years of age. However, in my opinion the sessions would definitely benefit men and teenagers too!


Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

I am a fitness coach and have been teaching for 26 years. More recently I have trained with Mind, the mental health charity, to become a Mindfulness Practitioner. I now work with various local councils and community groups, Leisure Centres, schools and Children’s Centres.

Now I’m very busy! The classes I teach include Aerobics, Pliates, Chair- Based, Balance and Core Stability, Healthy Backs, Rebounder, Fit Kids and Parent/Toddler Fitness. I also tutor Fitness and Mindfulness courses for Idea Store Learning in Tower Hamlets.

I deliver classes for Tower Hamlets Council, after I approached them with the idea of delivering a Pilates class and combining it with some Mindfulness, which took the form of meditation, relaxation methods, discussions around stress and how to deal with this and how and why it is caused.


What does wellbeing and mental health mean to you? How do these sessions work to boost wellbeing and what tools do you work to build with your participants?

Wellbeing encompasses being fitter in yourself in mind, body and spirit.  It means an increase of energy levels, better focus, feeling better about your body image and overall mental health.

Through the classes, I share positive affirmations, recommended reading, my own research and the information that I have learnt on my Mindfulness course.  The sessions implement a vast array of interactive group work, so there is a wealth of ‘active’ learning taking place.

There is a lot of differentiation needed, particularly when it comes to the physical exercise. Some participants have to remain seated and can’t get down to the mat. I am more than happy to adapt the exercises according to the individual.


The class is women only, what do you think are some of the barriers and issues faced by women today in regards to their physical and mental health?

There are lots! Particularly in this area, financial strain can become a real barrier, from no affordable childcare, travelling expenses, the price of healthier food options. And mental health is a barrier that most of us can relate to, from a tiredness/lack of energy, poor body confidence, time management issues, to feelings of inadequacy – not feeling able to try something new, or being afraid of failing.


What about the specific benefits of exercise on mental health and wellbeing?

Exercise, without a doubt, is great for an increase of endorphins – the ‘happy’ hormone, a clearing of the mind, more energy for the day and not feeling so fatigued. It is also fantastic for boosting self-esteem.

As the class has gone by, I have seen a definite change in confidence levels and self-esteem.  I have also seen the more shy participants engage more within this social setting and also, being more vocal in group discussions.


They learn from you, of course, but are there also things that you take from them? Have these sessions seen a change in yourself in any way?

I feel that I am learning all the time. I can see where I need to present information in a better way –   having text in larger formats, for example, I am learning to ask more questions, take more pauses and realising that it is ok to do so!

I have been feeling more embedded while delivering meditations and am gaining more confidence as a Practitioner thanks to these sessions. It is all a part of my own continuous journey and I am learning more about the needs and wants of participants, helping me plan for future courses.


What do you enjoy most about holding these classes?

I really love the psychology behind people’s thoughts and feelings. I feel really ‘present’ when teaching and to know that they are benefitting physically and mentally, and that I am integral in making a huge impact on their journey of wellness, gives me immense satisfaction.


What is your top advice for someone who might be feeling frazzled, run-down, or having a tough time with their wellbeing?

Set aside some time to take care of your health. Invest in Mindfulness activities, breathing and thoughts and take at least 5 minutes a day to be with yourself and sit quietly.


Quotes from the sessions:

‘After a stressful week, to have time to reflect and relax is just what is needed. I can’t do strenuous exercise, so Pilates is ideal. I would like to carry on beyond the 6 week course.’

‘Very relaxing. Good to spend time thinking about yourself and your own wellbeing and to have tips to do this anywhere, anytime.’

‘This course gives me a bit of ‘me’ time enabling me to cope better with the difficulties in my life. I am also enjoying meeting other women and sharing new ideas’

‘This mindfulness makes me connect with myself. Breathing exercises is wonderful, so simple but so important, strangely we forget that it’s magic. I hope this class continues and I can master in it.’

‘It’s a nice friendly group. Chris puts everyone at ease, it’s helped with my depression, I’m learning how to de-stress and I look forward to my Friday mornings.’


Back to Stories

Wellbeing encompasses being fitter in yourself in mind, body and spirit. It means an increase of energy levels, better focus, feeling better about your body image and overall mental health.