Rimbala is an innovative falls-prevention program for seniors that combines movement and music in a new way. Rather than using pre-recorded music as an accompaniment to repetitive exercises, Rimbala classes are led by a professional musician who improvises the music in real time, in order to create a wide variety of musical speeds, textures, styles and moods. This organic approach refines the participants’ abilities to adjust their gait and reaction time as they learn a variety of fun movement activities. Guided by the instructor, the seniors are encouraged to invent their own gestures and gently expand and refine their range of movements. The classes are designed to help seniors better cope with the numerous movement challenges that they face in their day-to-day lives.
The program draws upon recent European research on the effectiveness of music-based gait and balance training. Swiss researchers demonstrated an astonishing 54% reduction in falls among an elderly population who participated in a one-hour weekly class (see the article, “The Effect of Music-Based Multitask Training on Gait, Balance and Fall Risk in Elderly People,” Archives of Internal Medicine, 171/6, (March, 2011), 525).
Rimbala classes are fun, because the atmosphere is sociable and highly interactive. Participants enjoy many opportunities to interact with a partner or a small group. We have found that seniors assist one another and develop a camaraderie that lifts their spirits and alleviates the personal struggles associated with ageing. The program includes activities such as: seated gesture pattern games, walking refinement activities, start/stop physical controls, showing the musical beat as a memory game and passing a ball for improved mobility. The method targets balance, gait, posture and mobility, memory, mood and social interaction.
Music has been repeatedly shown to possess a significant therapeutic value in the cognitive and emotional domain. By stimulating parts of the brain associated with rhythm and movement, participants in Rimbala classes enjoy physical benefits, alongside cognitive and emotional ones. This holistic approach to improving the lives of the elderly is at the core of the Rimbala philosophy.
Who should enroll in Rimbala classes?
Rimbala classes are designed for seniors who are:
1) more frail and unsteady on their feet than in their younger years
2) seeking an alternative to conventional fitness classes
3) attracted to gentle movements as opposed to vigorous aerobic movements
4) lovers of music
5) social beings who enjoy interacting with others
What are the benefits of enrolling in Rimbala classes?
Rimbala participants enjoy the following physical, cognitive and social benefits:
1) an increase in regularity of gait which helps to prevent falls
2) an improved sense of balance
3) an improved bodily self-awareness
4) a better communication between the body and the mind
5) an increase in physical flexibility and movement choices
6) an improved sense of social well-being and rapport skills with others
7) a deeper appreciation of music and its ability to arouse our emotions