This week Master Donato was asked to do an interview for Wivenhoe Village Magazine.
This is what he had to say:
Tell us a little bit about your health and fitness background and services you provide at Wivenhoe Village
I am enjoying a martial arts repertoire 52 years in the making as the longest-serving martial arts instructor in the region, I am merely acting out my profession.
My job, to show people they can achieve things.
I try to show people they can be further advanced physically and mentally than they think they can be. My work has me teach 5yr old children through to 96yrs young seniors in any given day. To witness the life cycle at work is a privilege.
Along with the usual, teaching and training of State, National & World Champions, there are many highlights I could share, such as teaching self-defence to a blind teenage girl, aiding the rehabilitation of serious road crash victims or teaching all the kids in the Camden Stranger Danger back in the early 90’s. Fortunately, my work is not solely a fitness industry occupation, therefore I have the wonderful opportunity to teach, coach and/or lecture across many different business sectors and enjoy other community endeavours as requested.
To simplify the role of a true Martial Arts Instructor, would be a gross injustice, but if you take away the kick & punch aspect, a martial arts instructor is supposed to be — someone with knowledge through experience to guide people and show them beyond what they think they are capable of.
True Tai Chi, not just a fitness class called Tai Chi, in its essence, is a Martial Arts System. I teach Yang style Tai Chi. Yes, it does challenge you both mentally and physically and requires you to concentrate and give the best to yourself. We launched Longevity senior Services, an over-50s wellness group in 2016 at our martial arts headquarters at Smeaton Grange which now has more than 250 members. These members understand that quality wellbeing benefits take time, that at times it is hard to remember movements and that their balance and current level of fitness will be challenged, but isn’t that why we seek such activities – to advance and improve ourselves.
I run Tai Chi & meditation classes 1 day a week at Wivenhoe. Classes are $8.00 and you just pay as you go. Come along anytime to try or you are very welcome to return at any time if you have been M.I.A.
What do you believe are the benefits of those services to residents?
The benefits outweigh the excuses I hear. The beauty of Tai Chi, Qi gong and the many exercises we use, is that it can be done anywhere anytime. The biggest underlying benefit to this physical activity is how it helps to re-invigorate the mind. It is the ultimate mind and body getaway, if you allow it to be. It reduces stress and anxiety, it improves mood, it enhances better sleep, promotes weight loss, improves cognition, helps to reduce the risk of falls, improves COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), improves balance and strength in people with Parkinson’s, safe for those with chronic heart disease, relieves the pain of Arthritis, improves joint mobility, daily functional chores and activities become easier to perform, therefore maintaining independence. Last but not least is the enhancement of the mind, it’s the ability to re-set new pathways of learning, improved memory and also learning the ability to control and quiet the mind when desired. All this does not happen overnight, but it will happen. Don’t choose to study this when you feel your chips are down and done for. Make this a part of your proactive routine. The better self that affords you the opportunity to learn more about yourself so you can tap into other wonderful characteristics and dreams that are uniquely you. All that is taught in these classes can be applied to every aspect of your life.
What is the best fitness tip you have for those that come to your classes?
Yes, you have walked the earth a considerable time, but there is still so much to learn about yourself, so come along with an open mind, be relaxed, you don’t need to be anyone but yourself! Come to class with an empty cup of thoughts and ideas and enjoy the journey of mind and body. We have many laughs, discuss lots of relevant topics, make many mistakes, challenge movements that can all be modified and adjusted for your individual needs. Don’t forget to bring your patience because I am not going anywhere and we will advance at your pace no one else’s.
What would you say I the most important thing in general for over 55’s to consider as they focus on enjoying their retirement?
SOCIALIZATION – In whatever form suits you, but you must have it. It is the sole reason, we get out of bed in the morning, commitment to our personal hygiene and is a perfect reason to join in activities that are both mentally and physically challenging. Try to step out of your comfort zone, whilst ever you have the courage to because the day will come when we won’t. If your mind is happy, your body will want to party with you.
As a visitor, what would you say is the best thing about Wivenhoe from a health and wellbeing point of view?
From the moment you drive in the front gate, all your worldly cares seem to dissipate. The Village seems to project a Zen-like vibe, that encourages you to relax and go with the flow. The community areas and the setting of the village are tranquil, providing a wonderful getaway from the real world.
If you could sum up your experience at the village in 5 words what would they be?
Peaceful, insightful, encouraging, caring community