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For years I worked as a Fitness Instructor in a “Health and Well-Being” Sports Centre.
Its manager, during my time, had long-term spinal problems, his assistant had obesity issues, and very few clients who attended were happy with their appearance or self-image, and most suffered from ailments for which they were medicated.
So, what exactly are we addressing and why?
During my life in Africa, where I grew up and went to school, and lived as a young mother, I never heard any of my African friends complain of their appearance, or of aches and pains (I am NOT talking about the Aids or Malaria epidemics!!). They did hard manual labour, walked, cooked and socialised as a community.
Our society has become more sedentary, and as technology advanced and took over from our manual labour, aerobic work-outs and gyms established themselves.
The media played a big part in “brainwashing” young people to become “dedicated followers of fashion”, gradually trying to eradicate individualism and contentment.
We have become a society of worshippers of “false gods”, i.e. celebrities and rock/pop stars, whom young people wish to emulate, in the process of which identity loss occurs, and self-dissatisfaction arises.
Armed with these self-deprecating values we go off to the gym or attend tough work-outs, as if the need for self-punishment is the only solution. Then interest wanes, people in general do not persevere and get injured, stay at home to continue their never-ending dream of “perfection”, comforting themselves with sugary “treats”, fast foods, alcohol etc, in front of the TV -waiting for the next vantage point in life when they will start afresh, to fail again and again.
Some other people who persevere become addicted to their exercise regime, but again to quench their own deep-seated dissatisfaction, anger and frustration at some other aspects in their lives.
One of the reasons I retrained from Fitness Instructor/Personal Trainer to become a complementary practitioner, was because of the underlying causes which brought people to my classes or gym, and through my own process of self-discovery.
We have lost touch with our true selves and nature, so much so that we have lost our natural senses, on which for example, Aboriginals, Native Americans and other indigenous people rely.
We have desensitised ourselves and allowed outside forces to influence and swamp our natural senses, i.e., our intuition, our telepathic abilities, and our olfactory, auditory, visual, gustatory and kinaesthetic senses. We have lost touch with the natural cycles of our seasons, for example, and the types of food which nourish us at different times of the year.
Our focus, unfortunately, has become very superficial and as we have forgotten about the rest of our body, our internal organs, our skeleton, our nervous system, and our natural second brain – our belly – we drive ourselves on, in gyms or work-outs, to look and feel better, at the expense of true awareness of self. So, disease, aches and pains develop, and we make appointments to see the local physiotherapist, osteopath, doctor, etc.
The answer to this is not to stop an activity we enjoy, but to tackle it from a deep bodily awareness, from a place where we honestly question ourselves why we do what we do and listen to our own answer. To start by looking into the mirror and loving our own reflection, to begin to understand that we are complete, and that it is all right to forego this work-out today, or this trifle, or cigarette.
Another vital element that we seem to have ignored when adulthood strikes us, is that it is all right to have fun, to laugh and to continue playing as we did when we were children. Bringing the element of fun and joy in an activity helps us to feel motivated and compels us to persevere in whatever we choose to do to stay well and healthy.
We believe that as we age we’re bound to get stiff, rigid, shrunken or forgetful. What we have forgotten as a society is that we are approximately 85% water, which gradually dries up through our way of thinking, which causes us to be afraid and so rigidity sets in!
There is another system within each of us that we have forgotten to explore, and that is our fluid system, and our “energy” or life force. This is a discovery made thousands of years ago, before any form, discipline or exercise regime existed.
It is that part which animals use to stretch, it is that part which helps babies to move, and the part we use for example, when doing our “yawn and stretch”, which feels delicious! It is inherent in all of us humans, we have simply forgotten how to access it. Once you reconnect with it you will activate your own individual choreographer, which will not only tone you, but will also make you feel good and heal you.
True to our Roots Qi Gong is all about this exploration, and when combined with any activity of your choice can only enhance it. Qi Gong, which means Energy Work, is a gentle type of exercise which helps us gather and cultivate internal energy. It is the opposite to the external exercise practised in the West, which drains our energy system. After years of studying various ancient traditional disciplines my body woke this ability up in me and showed me the art of internal and spontaneous movements accessible through our fluid system as described in the previous paragraph. Once the body gest accustomed to this form of primordial and somatic movements it can re-align the skeletal, muscular and visceral structures and disperse lactic acid for example, creating flexibility throughout the body. One also gets into a meditative state without even trying! It is a moving meditation and self-healing method with powerful simplicity, which is our natural inheritance as human beings.
To introduce this method into the Fitness world would be like giving a diamond away – once received and felt you will never want to lose it, and ageing “disgracefully and stiffly” will become a thing of the past!