a different kind of coffee break with Gerry and Ray Coffey

Disease-Free Living Through Fitness and Nutrition


Summary on NAVS Summerfest 1997
By: Gerry and Ray Coffey

Ray: It was great to join the outstanding list of fitness and health care luminaries taking part in the Conference. Our group discussion (billed as: "Sharing Our Stories of Life and Health Transformations Through Vegetarianism") got off to a slow start due to the late hour (after 9:30 p.m.) and a last minute announcement after a full day’s agenda. But after we started talking, especially about Gerry’s perseverance to live (when death appeared imminent), passers by joined the group and it became an emotional experience for us all.

Our Dessert Class filled up rapidly. Over a hundred people filed into the room and were anxious to be fed and entertained.

We greeted them with delicious, non-dairy shakes, and things got even better after DREAM CREAM passed the "taste test" and the audience became vocal and mobile. They spread the word all over the University of Pittsburgh campus. We served desserts for over an hour past our deadline and people were signing ad hoc lists for recipes.

GERRY: Happily, our 5 presentations at the NAVS Summerfest went quite well. The pace was hectic as we wanted to attend as many other events as possible and many were simultaneous.

SHARING: A first for the Conference was a group discussion we were asked to facilitate on lifestyle changes. Unfortunately we lost most of our audience during the exodus from the Plenary Session-- before it was announced. But we welcomed the handful that stayed, and before long curious onlookers passing in the halls joined in and we ended up with about 40 - 50 people.

When sincere and sensitive discussion began, there was nary a dry eye in the room. And for days afterwards, people came up and thanked us for sharing. A rewarding experience.

My Saturday pre-lunch "Coffey Break" exercise class drew about 35 people, and a commendable (considering the hour) 25 roused for the 6:30 a.m. Sunday class. Advertised as "Faster than yoga but not aerobic," I set a challenging pace and was encouraged by the response. Unfortunately, the exercise video I taped before departure (with a little help from friends Jean Tune, Donny, and people from TV43) got left behind in the studio.

A misunderstanding about starting time delayed our able assistants for the DREAM CREAM class, and serving 100 plus anxious palates proved testy, but do-able, thanks to Nedda. Tasters were so enthused, before long we needed to gear up to serve about a 100 more unexpected guests. GREAT!

Another first was introducing a Stretch Break during the 2 hour Plenary Session. It could fill the void between speakers, microphone and equipment changes, I suggested to NAVS President, Jenny Collura, and revive concentration and circulation to vital areas. ( : - D She presented it to the Board, and though it was feared it might be disruptive, a trial session was approved.

I found that teaching public classes, professional dancers and body builders, and doing exercises segments for TV, is nothing like leading a packed auditorium. It was a riveting experience to see over a thousand arms reaching for the ceiling. And it took a little ingenuity to devise exercises that would challenge them without literally impacting their seatmates. Chuckles erupted when I instructed them to aim chests towards the floor while attempting to lift buttocks towards the ceiling. Ideal to tone tummies and relieve tension in the lower back. Cautious of time, I took only about 3 minutes, but the roar of approval and comments afterwards suggested it was time well spent. Even the people off stage participated. The pause that refreshes does not have to be Coke! ( : - )

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