Body awareness for five decades.

50 years ago, the health wave did not roll through the country. The selection of corresponding courses at the Bamberg Adult Education Center (VHS) was rather modest.

In 1972, women with an affinity for sports could only choose from a few courses: “gymnastics for women”, “gymnastics for mothers and children” or “balance gymnastics for older women” and “modern dance gymnastics” were the subjects. . For comparison, take a look at the syllabus for the semester 2022/23, which lists a wide range of courses with a wide variety of orientations under the keyword “health”.

Whether spinal gymnastics or Pilates, Qi-Gong or yoga, Feldenkrais or brain fitness: there is something suitable for everyone.

look in the past

But let’s look back half a century: the VHS was under the direction of the then second mayor and cultural adviser Franz-Josef Schleyer, the learning year was divided into trimesters.

Monika Kreiner-Reichmann works as an editor at Franconian Day, sits at a desk a lot and suffers from a walking disability as a result of polio. “I wanted to do something for my fitness,” says the 80-year-old from Bamberg. A sports club was out of the question for her. As a result, she watched the VHS program and decided to take the “compensatory gymnastics for women and girls” course on Tuesday nights at Hainschule. The ad in the VHS program brochure convinced Monika Kreiner-Reichmann so much that she registered her mother at the same time.

Physical and mental balance

“Gymnastics is physical and mental balance for all working people and housewives, whose movements are always unilateral and determined. An orderly body structure that compensates for damage, relaxed movement makes people happy and life-affirming, increases their self-confidence and promotes health,” the course description said at the time.

It was directed by Gertrud Henning, “an authority in her field and, as a teacher, an institution on VHS,” recalls Kreiner-Reichmann. The course leader was also a trained respiratory therapist and she led a kind and strict regiment in her courses, which were always full. “With her we learned to breathe correctly, we had to rhythmically touch the chest and the tips of the lungs and level ourselves at the beginning of each lesson to find inner peace,” says Monika Kreiner-Reichmann.

It worked wonderfully and the hustle and bustle of the day was gone. The little lady especially likes to think of the beautiful summer evenings when Getrud Henning moved the gym to the lawn behind the school building: “She didn’t give a damn about insurance issues, we enjoyed freedom, regardless of the mosquitoes who attacked us.” .”

After Gertrud Henning retired due to age, Michaela Weber took over the course for a short time, then came Regina Burkard, who would become the course leader for 33 years: “She really mixed us with power and music pop, but it also provided the necessary relaxation.

Same day, same place, same course

Monika Kreiner-Reichmann always stayed the same day of the week in the same place in the same VHS course, because “I had fun in the thing for a long time, I was happy with every step and I could no longer imagine life without this regular physical activity.

Even long summer vacations are an unwanted break, and you’ll be glad when VHS finally starts up again. Although she does some exercises at home every morning. When she has good weather on the balcony, otherwise indoors it puts “pressure and strain on the bones”, laughs Kreiner-Reichmann, “you have a physical sensation”. And she keeps her foam mat with a washable cover from the early days: “I still use it today!”

The men are too

Meanwhile, men have also made their way into this course with a focus on spinal gymnastics. Some for medical indication, others as a preventive measure.

Over time, a hard core was formed among the course participants: “Personal contacts and friendships developed, and we celebrated the end of the semester together,” says Monika Kreiner-Reichmann, who is now the “longest-serving person” in this VHS course. . “I hope to hold out for a while longer. I want to continue.”

Christine Gehrig is the name of the fourth course leader who is undergoing now: the fitness program starts today, Monday, in the Hainschule gym. “It will be exciting because I have to adapt to new things again,” says Kreiner-Reichmann. But she will learn more, just as she has benefited from all the leaders, no matter how different, and she was able to bring valuable things to her daily life.

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