Sinikka Suoranta is the first person over 80 to participate in Asahi Nordic's 20-80 free teacher training program.
It's the hottest day Finland has had this summer. I'm sitting with Sinikka Suoranta, a brand new certified Asahi Nordic Method teacher. We met three years ago when she came to Rhodes for the Asahi Nordic Week. I thought she and her daughter Maarit were sisters at first, because Sinikka is so sprite and youthful for her age. We have time to talk before we join participate in an evening Asahi class in the garden by the the museum in Lohja, Finland.
Sinikka is the first 80-year-old to get teacher certification in the Asahi Nordic Institute's (ANI) "80 - 20" campaign. This campaign gives anyone over eighty the chance to train free of charge. To make it a 100% good offer, ANI is offering the same free training to anyone 20 years or younger. In Sinikka's opinion, this is a wonderful gesture to both age groups, who are often overlooked in the health exercise field.
The heat wave doesn't seem to bother Sinikka."I just got back from a week-long trip to the Greek island Karpathos with my grandchildren. Even though it was really hot, we did Asahi a few times during the week." This was Sinikka's second trip to Greece in a little more than a month, because she participated in this years' Asahi Nordic Week in Rhodes in May. She may be the only one on that trip, who participated in every single outdoor Asahi practice, morning and evening plus a couple of dance classes. She admits, "A couple of evenings I wasn't sure I had the energy to go, but after the Asahi session I felt perky again!"
In her youth, Sinikka didn't have time to participate in sports, except for an occasional volleyball game, because she had to join the workforce at an early age and then had the responsibilities of raising a family. But when she retired she took up Nordic walking, going to the gym and yoga. However, she was beginning to develop osteoarthritis in her knees and getting up and down from her mat got to be a problem. The yoga teacher said that it's fine to take your time, but Sinikka didn't like always being the last one back on her feet. After Sinikka tried Asahi, her interest in yoga waned, because she felt she could get the same physical and mental benefits from Asahi without having to get down on the floor.
She became acquainted with Asahi in 2011 at a week-long course, where all sorts of different exercise forms were introduced. She like Asahi immediately, because it was easy, but effective, and didn't require any extra special equipment. She happened to pick up a book about Asahi at a garage sale. In 2016 her daughter Maarit came to visit and said, "Now I have found the very exercise method I've been looking for: Asahi! You might like it, too, Mom!" Sinikka pulled her Asahi book off the shelf and said, "Oh, is this the method you're talking about?" From then on Asahi has been a big part of both of their lives. They have made two trips together to Rhodes just to do Asahi. Maarit did her beginning teacher training on the first trip.
Sinikka participated in the Asahi lessons offered by the local retired people's organization. Then the pandemic hit, but her Asahi teacher started doing online classes in the spring of 2020, so Sinikka was able to keep up her regular practice. Suddenly her husband became ill and after just a couple weeks in hospice care, he passed away in May 2020. Even when she spent the last days with her husband in the Hospice facility, Sinikka went out in the corridor for periodic Asahi breaks. "During all the grief, the pandemic, selling the house, and the whole process of sizing down and moving, I kept doing Asahi at least twice a week, in a group when it was possible, or via zoom. Asahi helped me though that whole ordeal, giving me the strength and peace of mind I needed to carry on...and it still does!"
In 2021 Sinikka's daughter Maarit became an Asahi Nordic Head Instructor. She encouraged her mother to get teacher certification, but Sinikka didn't warm up to the idea at first. But then she recalled that she had already taught Asahi on a week-long trip for retired people. She and another Asahi fan told the group that no one gets breakfast until everyone did Asahi with them. And that's how they got the whole group to do Asahi every morning! After a long debate with herself, Sinikka finally decided to study for certification. "At first I kept getting the moves of the three series mixed up, but during the training, I got them sorted out and gained a whole new kind of confidence. The lectures on Asahi's health benefits interested me the most."
(Sinikka on 4th from the left in this group photo from Asahi Nordic Week in Rhodes May 2022)
"I don't have any plans to start leading my own Asahi group yet, but who knows what the future will bring? To begin with I can practice teaching with a few of my friends. Of course, I will keep up my own practice and take every opportunity to talk people into trying Asahi and explain its health benefits to them. Any time anyone complains about stiff joints or sore backs I suggest doing a little Asahi. I know from my own experience that Asahi has saved me from having to have knee replacement surgery. Some people are pretty hard to convince, but I don't give up easily!"
In this photo Sinikka poses with the first two young women to participate in the 80-20 campaign. But that's a subject for another whole blog!
For more info about Asahi Nordic's Online Teacher Training here
Check out upcoming live workshops in the US here