Staff Profile: Janet Archer

When you’ve got a mother who’s still tap dancing at the age of 89, you know you’ve got a good role model in front of you.  Janet Archer, who has been teaching yoga at the Bond Wellness Center a year after it opened, actually got her start in fitness classes at the suggestion of her mother back in 1975.  Ultimately, that led to her becoming a teacher and, now, a role model herself.

“What I want people to see from me is that I am just like them,” Janet says about her yoga students.  “It isn’t just me, and then you. I want them to see I am in this with them. We’re in the same predicament together.”

And by predicament, what she means is coming to yoga class and being kind to ourselves, not to constantly judge our performance against the performance or others or even against what our own body is capable of doing.   She says she’s constantly drawing up that compassion for herself, instead of fostering self-hate, judgment or disapproval.”

Janet has noticed how much we’re all struggling to find a little quiet in our lives. Sometimes her yoga classes can provide at least a little time for people to reconnect with themselves, she says.

“I love it when everyone comes in at the beginning of class and they’re in a mood—really down, or whatever—and then I look out at everyone at the end of a class and it’s like someone came in and sprinkled all this Calm Dust on everyone,” she said.  “Then they go out of class onto the fitness floor and those people wonder ‘What’s going on in there?’ because they’re all floating out of the room.”

As a reading teacher for grades K through 4 and as a fitness instructor, Janet can have days that are incredibly hectic, yet she puts into practice what she tries to teach to others—to be in the moment and be present at what is happening right now. “The practice has shown me how to be able to do a lot of things and not feel like I’m running around like crazy and to really pay attention to the time I do have for myself.”

“What I’ve started to see more and more is that we all really want that slowing down; by having that space (yoga) created for you to drop into yourself and to settle into yourself where you can just do that and be able to say ‘I feel safe here and I don’t have to perform in any way—there’s nothing lacking, nobody else I have to be like, no urgency’,” Janet said.

Janet says she had “a lot of different lives” before her Wellness Center career. When her children were young, she owned “The Body Barn,” a dance and exercise studio on her property in the town of Sharon. She was the first person to teach aerobic dancing in the area back in 1975, when people didn’t really know what “aerobic” meant.  She used to get calls from people asking to explain it, but they also showed up for the classes and the studio was quite popular.  Loni Brown, from Peterborough, became a yoga instructor at her studio, while Janet taught aerobic classes for children and adults.

Then she began offering yoga for expectant mothers. She’d always loved yoga and had done it in college, but it was at that time she became quite interested in teaching it. Meanwhile, the state implemented a new kindergarten requirement, which enabled Janet to return to her first career as a kindergarten teacher. She was one of the first hired in the district and, so, she gave up the Body Barn business and enrolled in a distance-learning Master’s program in Psychology, focusing on body, mind and health.  She began teaching yoga at Northern Lights in Antrim, where she also worked as a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist, which involved working one-on-one with people in yoga poses. While in the pose, the therapist asks, “What’s going on with their thinking and feeling.  A lot of stuff arises when you’re holding someone in a yoga pose,” Janet says.

Janet also did an internship in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) with  Jon Kabat Zinn. She now uses those skills in another Wellness Center program, an 8-week course that she alternates teaching with two others.  Three years ago she also trained as a Wellness Coach and, together with Carrie and Anne, she coaches individual clients. Recently, she’s added aerobic dancing back into her repertoire at the Wellness Center and earned a Group Fitness certificate, and also one in teaching Drums Alive, a new class this fall.

That busy schedule during the school year requires Janet to practice what she preaches—she makes sure to take time for herself and does so summers at a Zen Center in California, staying in silent retreat for 2 weeks up to one month.  “When I think about it I realize what I get from it is what you (the yoga students) get when you come to my class. If I didn’t do anything for myself, you would not get anything from me, because the well would be dry,” she says.

Janet’s dream would be to see a mind-body space created at The Bond Wellness Center, one totally devoted to massage, yoga and meditation type activities.  For now, at the age of 60, her current plans are to teach well into her 90’s.

“Everyone always asks me why I look so young, but I think it’s not that I look young, I act young, and I attribute that to yoga and meditation,” she said, adding, “You don’t stop moving because you grow old, you grow old because you stop moving.”

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6 Responses So Far... Leave a Reply:

  1. Well, Janet is my wife and I am so happy to see a bio published about her. She has a very compassionate heart and perservered to find it. Please pass this along to your or any interested parties. I hope everyone gets a chance to take a class or work with Janet her value is way above any monetary compensation she receives.

  2. Carolyn Housman says:

    Janet is my younger sister and she is the one that got me interested in exercise. This became a revelation for me as I not only got into fitness but started my own fitness business. My fitness business led me to make enough money to go back to school for a BA in Business and then an MBA. I no longer teach fitness but now work in the healthcare industry and every day I exercise by starting my day with a 3-5 mile walk and strenghtening exercises. I attribute this discipline as being the driving force that allows me to commit myself to an 8-10 hour day, so you might say that I can thank my sister for helping me find the “balance” that has allowed me personal and professional success.

  3. Tia says:

    Doing meditation is a really rewarding exercise to get a more stress-free life. I know it helped me and kept me alive no matter what happened.