To celebrate National Sporting Heritage Day, our Founder Members share their long history with us
One of our Founder Members, FLexercise, has a long history having been known originally as the Women’s League of Health and Beauty. Over the years it has undergone a few iterations and became FLexercise in September 2017.
The FLexercise system was pioneered in 1930 by Mary Bagot Stack. She believed that the body works best when posture and alignment are correctly placed, and her system was designed to energise and strengthen the whole body.
Mary’s inspirational vision quickly caught on. Within seven years 166,000 women had joined her Women’s League of Health & Beauty. Mary died in 1935 but her movement thrived thanks to the devotion she inspired in her daughter Prunella and friends Peggy and Joan St Lo who carried on her work. During the Second World War there were 50 centres across the country.
The Women’s League of Health & Beauty became the Fitness League in 1999 and became a Founder Member of the Exercise, Movement and Dance Partnership (EMDP) in 2006. FLexercise tells us more . . .
Prunella’s granddaughter, Saba Douglas Hamilton, is now our President and we continue to develop and deliver industry-leading health classes that embody our core principles of exercise, fun and empowerment.
Our unique classes are part exercise, part dance but all fun. Whilst we no longer wear the iconic uniform of black satin pants and white blouse, we still offer a complete approach to fitness and mobility for all ages, shapes and abilities. Our well-trained teachers are able to adapt exercise to enable everyone to exercise together. Today, the FLexercise system still provides a blend of low impact physical exercises, yoga and movement designed to improve your posture, body alignment and balance, leaving you with more energy and a spring in your step.
During our long history we have made many proud memories, not least of all with the students we have trained over the years. In the early days we promoted the organisation with demonstrations in Hyde Park and Wembley arena and with marches down Regent Street. Our performances at the Royal Albert Hall have, over the years, become a classic example of what a body of women can do. They showcased happy, beautifully adept, and empowered women of all ages, shapes and sizes enjoying exercise.
We’ve had some key fundraising moments over the years when teachers and participants have raised thousands of pounds for our favourite charities – Alzheimer’s research, Medical Detection Dogs, Child Line, Heart UK and cancer charities – to name but a few.
Our continued popularity is a testament to Mary’s timeless recipe for classes – hard work, good fun, and sociable. Our members don’t just stay with us, they encourage their friends to come too. When asked for her favourite memories, one of our teachers, Sarah, said it was the fun and friendship that drew her to the organisation. ‘I have never laughed so much in my life!’
What does the future look like for FLexercise? It certainly looks different. Covid-19 has changed our delivery of classes, and our teachers and participants are embracing online delivery. Having shown themselves to be nimble and willing to try new technology, we now welcome people from all over the world to our Facebook live 10@10 sessions every weekday morning. Nothing will stop FLexercisers from participating in class.
Will we still be here in another 70 years? You bet, and here’s why –
- FRIENDLY – We are welcoming and approachable. Providing support and encouragement to each other which in turn, helps to increase class attendance and spread the word.
- ACTIVE – We are pro-active in our approach to classes always updating our skills developing the business.
- INCLUSIVE – We welcome everyone regardless of age, gender, ability/ disability, race, colour or creed.
- REWARDING – Our activity supports growth in terms of teachers and participants. Teachers help achieve improved health and well-being through their classes.
- INSPIRING – We lead from the front with confidence and are role models for the organisation. Our heritage and wealth of experience makes us experts.
- ENERGISING – Our classes are infused with energy which will keep participants engaged for years to come.