Photo of Tom Sherwood

Tom S.

Senior Ravens



    Fitness Ontario Leadership Program


    What classes do you teach?

    I had been teaching the daytime 50s Plus classes and the Stretch & Strength for Mature Adults classes in evenings and on weekends. We have merged these for online programming during the pandemic.


    What equipment is needed to participate in your online classes?

    None. You can use body weight to strengthen muscles, or a towel for isometric resistance. The Senior Raven’s Class involves stretching, both static and dynamic, the cool down stretches and “A-B-C” work at the end (Abs, Back, Core) I do on the floor.

    However, I do suggest some equipment, and most May-June participants had some or had adapted household items.

    1. A water bottle – I encourage hydration throughout the hour.
    2. A towel, folded blanket, yoga mat or small area rug for floor work to protect and cushion yourself against the floor surface.
    3. The equivalent of a weight bench. This allows the participant to change posture and angles for seated exercises instead of standing, and to increase the range of motion in some exercises. Some participants have a suitable bench available, some use a chair or stool, some move to the floor.
    4. Weight.

    Some participants have dumbbells at home, as I do. And I hold various weights in my hands as I demonstrate exercises and stretches: from 2 to 15 lbs. But most people have only one or two denominations of weight, and that is fine.

    Everybody has “weight” around the house, even if they don’t have weights. Participants are using books, canned goods and bottles. A 2 liter bottle, filled with water, weighs 2 kilograms (4.4 lbs.) – very convenient and comfortable.


    What level of fitness do you need to be to participate?

    Anyone can participate, including those who feel fragile. Senior Ravens is a Heart Fit program, recommended for people recovering from heart surgery. For quality assurance, Heart Fit people have attended my classes on occasion, and reacted very positively. In the past 2 or 3 years, I have almost always had a former heart patient or two in any class I have led.

    I have also taken Bone Fit training with Osteoporosis Canada.

    I offer basic coaching in technique for beginners. I offer alternative ways to do many of the stretches and exercises to accommodate a wide range of fitness and experience levels. I also emphasize the mantra “Make it your own workout.” While demonstrating a particular stretch or exercise as leader, I will mention alternative ways of working the same muscle group and often demonstrate them as well. (Carleton requires that fitness instructors be capable of providing alternatives to exercises to create an inclusive fitness environment.)

    Last Fall, the Carefor Young Onset Dementia program at Carleton asked me to lead classes for their members. Some members of that group are participating in our online format.


    What are some important things participants will learn in your classes?

    • Safe and effective technique
    • That they are not alone
    • That they can learn and experience progress in dynamics of strength, stretching, balance and endurance
    • That the most difficult part of a fitness workout is the first step you take to go to a class


    What is your fitness background?

    I had a career as a competitive athlete in several sports including university football and basketball at York and Carleton. I continued to play competitive and recreational sports, then got into coaching. I coached a competitive basketball team during the 90s, and enjoyed watching several of the teenagers go on to play university ball, some winning national championships with the Carleton Ravens, and playing for Canada on the national team.

    Greg Poole got me into Fitness. He and I played basketball against each other in the 60s and golf with each other more recently. About 15 years ago we designed a pre-season fitness class for golfers. Then I met Paul Youldon, a personal trainer at Carleton. Greg and Paul co-wrote the textbook for the Fitness Ontario Leadership Program (FOLP). Their FOLP textbook was the main resource for the fitness leadership course I took in 2010-11 to become qualified as a leader/instructor. Paul mentored me in practical experience after I passed the course. So did Lesley Bowlby and Tracy Gagnon.

    I was too busy to be scheduled as a leader at first, but I was a convenient substitute when needed. (My home and my office are both within a few hundred meters of the Fitness Centre.) When I retired from undergraduate teaching in 2017, Athletics started scheduling me to lead from 2 to 5 classes per week.


    Tell one unique fact about you

    My wife and I have a profoundly disabled adult daughter. Although we have three other children – all doing well – and many varied interests and activities, Carla’s life with all its pain and beauty, joys and challenges is often the main fact in our life.



    This is the “author photo” from the back cover of my book on young adult spirituality in Canada. The Department of Sociology and the College of the Humanities use it on the Carleton website – now Athletics, too.