Is Your Fitness Program Encouraging Your Soverignty or Promoting Co-Dependency?


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“I need more accountability. I need you to tell me exactly what to do. I won’t do it if I’m not told to do it.”

This was not the first, or 5th time that my client and I have had this conversation over the last year and I realized that there was more being said here between the lines than what was actually, well, said. And it’s what was unsaid here that I will discuss in this post.

From the surface, it may seem like a pretty ordinary conversation you’d overhear between a trainer and her client. I mean, this is why most people hire trainers, right? To be instructed on what to do, how to do it and when, right?

Although this may be the obvious reason why we invest in hiring  trainers, from my perspective there is a subtle energy in my clients words which reveals a shadow side of the fitness industry and a much greater question I am inviting us to explore. And that question is:

Is your fitness program encouraging your sovereignty or promoting co-dependency?

If you are a trainer or health coach, are your programs encouraging your clients to take action for themselves or do your programs rely on YOU to hold their hand?

I feel its incredibly important for us to have this conversation because of the role the fitness industry is playing in the awakening of the planet. This is a topic I have been exploring and one that I talked upon previously. If you have not read the blog, I highly encourage you to pause now, read the article “A New Workout For a New Earth”, as it lays the foundation of this current conversation.

The truth is, most clients need an outside container to be held accountable for making major life changes in their lives. Heck, even as a fitness professional, I need a container whenever I’m looking to make changes in my life, in my body or in my business.

This is one of the main reasons why clients hire trainers, coaches, and join groups – we are more likely to stick to our habits and goals if we have other people to be held accountable to. This is one of the reasons why groups such as Crossfit and the Boston-based November Project have seen cult-like followings major growth in a highly saturated market.

Regardless of whether you agree with their practices, their group dynamics create an incredibly strong sense of community, support and motivation. With more people to add to the collective energy, the more sources there are to find inspiration and fuel to keep your fire going.

As we’ve discussed in the previous blog, Turning Lead Into Gold, having a container is one of the necessary ingredients that is needed to actually make any sort of transformation. You can hire a trainer, join a gym or participate in a workout group to take the role of your container. Or if you decide to make a change on your own, your intention and awareness can act as your container, however, I will say that this route can be more challenging since you do not have the additional support and motivation of a coach or a group. Whatever you decide works for you, it’s vital that there is something in place.

So on one hand, what my client was saying, I believe is actually needed, and something that she is craving. In her call for more accountability, what she may be asking for is a specific container to be held in order for her to make the changes she desires for her body.

However, on the other hand, it also gets me thinking: Where is the line between needing outside support to keep you accountable to your goals and when are you just giving away your power and expecting someone else to do the work for you?

I had a sense that there was more under the surface of what she was saying because this was a recurring conversation. In the past we have set up various methods of accountability, all of which just haven’t stuck. We’ve created workouts for her to do own, a weekly schedule of classes to take when we weren’t seeing each other, and not to mention, weekly check-ins about what she was eating. And yet, sporadic compliance of these things happened, at best.

Still, her desire for accountability was a pressing topic. This could mean several things. One is that the structure of my programs did not provide the specific container for her expectations of accountability (meaning, my style of training just wasn’t working for her), and/or my programs were creating a sense of co-dependency. That I was needed in order for HER to make changes.

(Mmmmm…..this is where my wheels, and I hope yours are starting to turn.)

The current paradigm of the fitness industry is one that I’ve found can either support our sovereignty OR promote co-dependency. The latter of which perpetuates a culture that looks for self-worth and the answers to our questions outside of ourselves, and the former, encouraging the universal truth that we have all the answers we ever need inside of us.

It’s a dynamic that I’ve seen play out as an observer and as a participant on both sides of the equation. And if you are reading this whether you consider yourself a client or a trainer, I’m inviting you to really look at this dynamic in your own trainer-client-group classes-student relationships.

As a fitness professional, I’ve personally lived the experience of what it’s like to have a sort-of death grip on your clients in the fear of losing business, or losing significance. In the past, I’ve had this fear-based belief that if I don’t have this client, I won’t have the money AND I’ll feel like a failure. For me, this has meant going way beyond what I was physically, mentally, emotionally or professionally capable of giving in order to keep the client coming back.

We may even sell the idea that our clients NEED to come in 2-3 days a week for a training session if they really want to meet their goals. Or, perhaps you have been sold the idea.

I can say first hand that I was one of those trainers, and as a manager of trainers, I encouraged my staff to do the same. Sell the bigger package, and get your clients in more often. The more they come in, the better they’ll do, and the more money YOU’LL make, is how we would coach our staff. And, in a way, I was setting up the stage to create co-dependent relationships with my clients, and at the time, did not even realize it.

What can happen with this is that the client may be led to believe (whether by the trainer or of their own choice) that in order to meet their goals, they HAVE to have a trainer, and they have to see them x amount of times per week otherwise they’ll never change. The mindset of, “I need my trainer to tell me what to do” can easily come out of this sort of set up, and thusly, has the potential to create dependency.

I have even met gym owners who have purposely placed equipment in random areas so that their clients had to seek out assistance – to me this does not promote sovereignty.

If you are a trainer, can you relate to your clients only coming to the gym or the studio if they have an appointment?

If you are a client, can you relate to needing to have an appointment in order to have movement in your life?

I am not saying that any of these situations is wrong. Far from it! I’m merely bringing this topic into the light so that we can step into more sovereign, stronger, and powerful versions of ourselves.

When we take full-responsibility for our health, without needing someone else to fix us, we begin to take more responsibility for our lives as a whole. We step out of being a victim to life, and step into becoming the architects of our own reality.

If you are a client of a trainer, or are here looking for answers, I implore to consider your intentions before hiring someone. What are your own expectations? If you know you need more accountability, that’s great! You can make an empowered decision to work with someone while also knowing that it is your responsibility to do outside homework.

There’s a big difference between working with a trainer to provide a container and to act as a support system for you while reaching your goals and working with a trainer with the expectation that they’ll magically fix you. The former, promoting sovereignty and self-responsibility.

From a business perspective, creating co-dependent fitness programs may seem like a great way to train clients. You don’t need more clients if you have the ones you currently work with coming in more often, and in some ways, yes this makes sense. You can work with less people while providing more care and attention to those you are working with.

However, and a big however, is, is this actually serving your clients? Is this actually encouraging people to take responsibility for their own health? Some questions for you to consider in your training business.

From what I’ve seen, many trainers have an underlying “rescuer” or super-hero complex. (I’m raising my hand!) which means we derive significance and feel loved when we know that we’ve helped someone, or the illusion of saving someone. (I say “illusion” because really, no one needs to be saved.)

Taking on the role of a rescuer can also feed into what is called the Karpman Drama Triangle, an unhealthy pattern of relating that can create a viscous cycle of co-dependency, and which I have seen can be an undercurrent in the fitness and wellness industry.


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As a trainer, it’s easy to attach your feelings of self-worth to how you’re clients are performing.

Clients getting results = I feel good.

Clients not getting results = I’m doing something wrong and I suck.

As clients, mainstream standards and even the use of language in the fitness industry can encourage us to believe that we are broken and need to be fixed. Next time you’re on FB, just pay attention to this.

Take a closer look at the language of the fitness and health-based posts on your Instagram and the FB feed. You may come across things such as:

  • 9 Ways to Fix Your Posture
  • 5 Reasons Why Your Desk Job Is Killing You
  • 12 Mistakes You’re Making At The Gym

Can you feel the subtle use of language and how it promotes a feeling of needing to be saved or rescued? Or that you are so broken and jacked up, that you NEED us, the fitness professional, to fix you.

So what exactly am I trying to get at here?

What I’m trying to get at is to just encourage you to open your mind, and to start looking at your current fitness programs/trainer relationships and whether they are encouraging you to take responsibility for your own health or if they are creating a sense of co-dependency.

I believe a successful fitness program is one that teaches you the tools to take care of your health and your body. One that empowers you to take your health and life back into your own hands.

Because, if we do not manage our own health and take responsibility for our own body, we will always look outside of ourselves for the answers. We will always need something or someone to tell us what to do, which pulls us away from trusting ourselves, listening to our intuition, and connecting with our truth or our soul.

If you’re a client, here are some things to just ponder:

  • In your current fitness program or trainer-client relationship, is there an expectation for you to do outside homework? Are you encouraged to explore other forms of movement/classes?
  • Are you expecting your trainer to fix you?
  • Would you know what to do for your body if you could not see your trainer?
  • Do you feel empowered to do movement or workouts on your own?
  • If you had a question about your body, are you inspired to research the topic on your own for your own curiosity?

If your’e a trainer, here are some things to just, think about:

  • How much are you deriving your sense of worth through your clients?
  • How does your client’s success effect you emotionally?
  • Are you encouraging your clients to have responsibility for their fitness goals or are you trying to do it all for them?
  • When you look at your clients, are you seeing all the ways they need to be fixed?
  • How are there ways for you to create programs and a business structures to promote sovereignty in your clients and ease up the pressure valve on you physically, emotionally, and mentally?

And with that being said, I leave you with this: 

You are a whole, and complete human being. You are exactly where you need to be, doing the things you need to be doing. Anyone who is in your life at the moment is here to reflect to you parts inside yourself you may or may not see.

No one can fix you because you are not broken. And no one can save you because you are not in danger.

You are more powerful than you may realize, and whatever changes you desire to make for your body and your life, is within your reach.

Ask for help. Look for support. And know, that the power to change is in your hands and no one else’s.

Turning Lead Into Gold: What Medieval Alchemy Can Teach Us About Body Transformation

gold-from-liquidAs far back as I can remember, I was always fascinated with how things worked. Growing up I have fond memories of taking apart electronics and toys with abandon, and attempting to put them back together – sometimes succeeding, often times making a mess.

I have always been fascinated with the questions of “how things work” and “why they work”?

25-plus-ish years later, I still find myself fascinated with these questions, but rather than dismantling my iMac (lord that would be a disaster), I’m more interested in people, and why as humans, we do the things we do.

Being in the fitness industry for over 10 years, this is a question that pops up for me on the reg – why can some people make radical changes in their lives while others, seem to struggle? I see it. I have clients who take my coaching and advice and run with it, making massive changes in their lives.

One of my clients, who’s been in pain since childhood due to a neurological condition, takes every single piece of advice I give him, every exercise recommendation and every nutrition change, and in the last 4 months, has been pain-free for the first time…in 22 years. The dude is only 30 years old, so for 73.33% of his life, he’s had to learn how to live with daily pain, and being an active guy who enjoys swimming, biking, working out and traveling, this is a milestone. Like, a legit, for real transformation.

However, not all my clients have this radical of a change, even though I know, they all have the potential to. All of them.

Every. Single. One. Of. Them.

And so do you.

So, what’s the difference then?

How can someone transform their body?

How does a personal actually change their unhealthy habits, into healthy ones?

How can a person truly change their life?

I’ll go out on a limb here and assume that these questions have been and are on a lot of people’s minds because these are the foundational questions of a billion-dollar industry we know as “personal development” or “self-help”.

I originally began my personal development journey as a way to accelerate my career, to be a better manager, trainer, and business person. I was a young 20-something looking to get ahead, make all the money, bring all the boys (and the girls) to the yard, and inspire others to make similar changes in their lives.

And while I am by-far, no where near the upper echelons of the leaders, thinkers and philosphers (past and present) in this industry, I feel as though my experiences and what I’ve learned along my journey may be of some use to you.

Please keep in mind that this is only one way to look at the topic of personal development and transformation. This blog represents a single strand of hay in a quantum-sized hay stack of possibilities. There could be endless reasons why my client has seen such drastic results; I’m merely presenting one perspective.

Since I am writing from the perspective of transforming your body, your habits and your health, you will see that this is the framework that I will approach this blog. Meaning, I will be answering the question of, “What does it take to create a lasting transformation in your body and your health?”

Whether you have dreams of being a person who prioritizes daily exercise and getting consistent with your workouts, or becoming the person who just knows instinctively what to eat without stressing or getting anxious, and if you’ve attempted to, and still find yourself going in circles, I can almost guarantee that 1 or more of the 3 things that is needed for a transformation was not present.

So, what are these 3 things?

Well first, we must understand a little about alchemy.

When we hear the word alchemy, we may think of medieval scientists attempting to turn ordinary metal into gold. That’s what most of us have learned.

However, along my journey (1) I’ve learned that true alchemy is actually an internal process, it’s about changing something about us on the inside into something more powerful.

Rather than turning metal into gold, we are transforming our pain, our shadows, and our challenges into healing, and awakened consciousness, which is our own internal metaphorical “gold”. We are turning ourselves from small sized Mario, into big sized Mario… with the golden star!

From powerless, to powerful.

From victimhood or martyrdom, to empowered and sovereign.

We are taking an aspect of ourselves that may not be serving us anymore (like being inconsistent with workouts, or stress-eating, or judging ourselves) and transforming them into something that does work for us, like self-care, awareness, and compassion.

What we once experienced as a struggle, we can now use as a gateway to transform ourselves.

Chances are, you performed alchemy this morning without even realizing it. See how powerful you are! You were performing magic and didn’t even know it.

One of the easiest everyday examples of this is the process of making tea, or coffee.

In doing so you are transforming an ordinary dry tea bag into a warm, delicious and soothing cup of herbal medicine.

However, could you imagine if you tried making the tea without boiling water? You’d have a pretty pathetic cup of cold, slightly tinted water. Not herbal medicine.

Or, imagine making tea without a cup? You’d have a puddle of steaming liquid dripping down your counter. Again, no transformation and no herbal medicine.

This example of boiling tea is one of the easiest and most understandable ways to begin to think of your own transformations, and the 3 things that are needed, are:

1) A container – In the case of the tea, the container is a mug, or a cup. In the case of your own personal transformation, this could be your gym, your trainer, a coach, a workout group, an online FB accountability group, or even just your awareness.

2) The thing to be transformed – In our example this was the tea bag. For you, this could be an eating habit you desire to change, like skipping breakfast, or stress-eating, or a lifestyle habit that doesn’t work for you any more, like judging yourself for not being perfect, or getting into bouts of self-loathing and victimhood.

3) ENERGY – The energy in our example was the boiling water, and the fire that actually boiled the water. If it were not for the boiling water, our tea would never steep. And in your transformation, without movement, without energy, your desires and your goals will always remain just desires and goals; they will never become actualized. I will also note that the commitment to your intentions can also act as a form of energy.

So how does this translate to your personal transformation?

Let’s use the example of my client above from above.

His container was our client-trainer relationship. Our relationship provided a tight container for his transformation to occur. He knew that he had a weekly appointment to attend, and he knew that he had homework to do on his own.

We laid out a well-developed plan, with the days he would do certain exercises, the days he would rest, the intensity, the time, and the volume. All of these parameters created a container for him so that he knew exactly what to do and when. The container allowed him to stay on a path and not get caught up going in a million different directions.

The thing to be transformed was his pain.

And the energy was the actual workouts, and his intentions. The workouts provided movement (energy) to the equation, while his dedication and intention to heal his pained fueled his internal fire to make a change in his body.

Again, I am not saying that this was the exact or only reason why he’s experiencing a transformation in his life, it’s just one way to look at it.

Any physical transformation that you desire for yourself, all require a container, it requires energy, and it requires something to actually be transformed. 

Here’s how you can use this for your own personal success in your current or future body transformation:

1. Set up a container that will hold you throughout your transformation.

  • Hire a coach
  • Hire a trainer
  • Find a workout partner
  • Join a group with similar goals in mind
  • Share your goals with your closest friends and ask for support
  • Create a sort of accountability system with co-workers or workout partners
  • Keep your goals in your mind, in your awareness, and remind yourself of the thing (the number 3 in this list below) that you want to change.

2. Ensure that you have enough energy to fuel the transformation.

Move your body daily. Even if it’s for 5 minutes. Get up, do something. It could be a walk around the park, on your lunch, a bike ride to work every day, the stairs instead of the elevator, strength training, yoga, cardio, group classes. Move. Every. Damn. Day.

Explore forms of meditation that focus on moving energy (chi, prana, life force) throughout your body. Things like Kundalini yoga and various Reiki practices can help. (If you’re interested in this and want to talk more about it, let’s set up a time to chat.)

There is nothing more debilitating to your transformation than stuck, stale energy. And learning how to move and channel your energy without always having to workout intensely is one of the greatest skills you can learn while you’re incarnated as a human here on Earth. This is why I strongly recommend to explore the energetic system, and various energetic practices to see what works for you.

Along with actual movement, whether that’s physically or energetically, setting clear intentions on what you want to transform and using this as a mantra on a daily basis, will act as kindling to the fire you have inside to change.

Without going off on a tangent about mantras here, one way to approach this is to think of your end goal as already happening, and state it out loud to yourself as a way to train your brain to believe that it’s already here. If you desire to become a person who wants to feel stronger, and happier in your body, a simple mantra like, “Every day I choose to become stronger and happier with my body.”

3. Be SMART with your goals.

When it comes to setting goals, I find that clients often think in very broad brush strokes: I want to feel better. I want to look better. I want to be more fit.

However, without setting clear, specific and realistic goals, it may seem like we will always be on the chase. Without knowing exactly what it is you desire, you’ll never actually know it when you get it. What does feeling better actually mean? What does being fit actually mean? Be specific.

I know it may seem a bit jaded, but using the SMART system for goal setting is a great place to start. Another, more feeling-based way to approach goal setting, (and one in which I feel works well with SMART goals) is a process developed by Danielle LaPorte called Core Desired Feelings. “Goals with soul” as she calls it, and you can read more about it here.

However you decide to set them, choose a system that feels good for you.

And now, I will wrap up this post with a bit of encouragement and some real-life talk about the process of internal alchemy and personal transformation.

And that is:

Don’t give up. Shit’s gonna get real. And shit is no doubtely gonna go down. Whether you are embarking on a fitness transformation or total life transformation, you will be confronted with challenges –  your beliefs about yourself will be challenged,  your current patterns of living will be challenged, and it may even feel like you’re dying at times. And that’s OK, it’s part of the process.

Because the truth is, there is a sort of mini-death of old patterns and beliefs that occurs whenever you are making a huge life change.

You gotta clear the old to make room for the new.

And like in alchemy, without the fire, nothing changes, which means, if you truly want things to change, things are gonna fire UP, so get used to the heat.

The Phoenix would never have risen had there not been a fire.

Be patient with yourself. This process is not going to happen over night. Real transformation is a process, a seemingly never ending cycle of birth and re-birth, of death and re-incarnation. This path and this process is not linear, there is no starting and ending point, just a continuous cycle of growth and decay.

You are whole and exactly where you need to be, doing exactly the thing you need to be doing, with the people you need to be doing them with. I whole-heartedly believe that life is always sending us the people, places, and circumstances we need for our soul to evolve.

The question is: Are you willing to look at your life with the eyes of curiosity and acceptance, that all things happening are here for your highest good?

Know there is absolutely nothing wrong with you and you aren’t fucking up if things don’t seem “perfect” (when in fact they already are) or missing out on anything that you don’t truly need.

I trust that there is a reason why you are reading this, and trust that if you made it to end of this post, that you are receiving what you need to be getting out of this.

And if you have any questions, comments, insights or your own personal reflections, I want to hear them, you can leave them in the comment section below or personally email me through the contact page with your musings.

1. The greatest teachers who have had an intensely profound impact along my path, showing me unconditional love and support, have been these amazing, beautiful, and powerful beings:  Jen Blackstock, Nisha Moodley, Elayne Kalila Doughty, along with every single person to have walked with me in this life, and all of life’s initiations.

You Are More Powerful Than You Realize


“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.”

-Henry David Thoreau

Do you know how powerful you are in creating the life you desire?

It always made logical sense to me that we have the power to create our lives however we desire.

However, understanding that on a visceral level, on an embodied level, where the knowing is in your bones, has been more of a challenge. It’s been a process of shedding away layers and layers of conditioning to come to this truth.

Whether we are aware of it or not, we inherit programming and conditioning from our families, our lineage, and our environments that inevitably shape our perception of the world and of ourself, and ultimately create a layer of protection and armor that keeps us from knowing our unlimited worth.

What I’ve come to understand is that we are more powerful beyond measure, that our essence is one of love, and creativity.

Pure God-like essence.

What I’ve learned, and continue to learn is this:

You are not your upbringing;

You are not the beliefs you’ve inherited;

You are not the stories you have playing in your head;

And you are not the money you make.

Yes, all of those things are a part of you and help to shape your own unique expression, but ultimately, they are not YOU.

I say all this as a strong, stern and loving reminder to myself.

That, I am worthy of myself, and my dreams, and my desires.

As I chip away at the layers, more and more is revealed to me. And the more courage, strength and trust I have in listening to my heart.

Courage, my friends (that means you too, Sirena), is choosing to live a life of joy, a life with an open-heart, full of unapologetic self-expression and self-acceptance.

My Love Letter To You: Embodying Your Self-Worth

IMG_3740There is a big, huge, life-changing thing that is wanting to come through in you and I ask that you be very gentle to yourself to nurture its arrival.

You can see the bud popping up through the soil and I invite you to mother it as you sense the magnitude of its gifts for you.

There still may be places in your system that are not quite ready to let go of the old to make way for this newness, and that’s OK,  it’s coming anyways, and it wouldn’t be here if you weren’t ready.

What is wanting to come through is a new body of self worth, a new body of knowing that you are worthy just because YOU ARE. 

Like a butterfly emerging from it’s cocoon.

What’s old is ready to be released:

That you do not need the belief that you are not good enough.

That you do not need to find the faults in others to feel worthy.

That you do not need to judge others to feel good about yourself.

That you do not need to rescue others to feel needed.

That you do not need to victimize yourself to receive love.

That you do not need to over sexualize yourself to get attention.

That you do not need to compare yourself to others to feel better.

That you do not need to “try to keep up” with your peers to feel successful.

This new bud, this new plant that is growing and gestating knows YOU are worthy just because YOU ARE.

However, there may be parts in your system that are not quite ready to let go of the role that victimization and rescuing people provides you, and not quite ready to let go of the need to keep up.

And that’s OK. Continue to love those parts until it is safe for them to let go.

I’m here to empower you to ask yourself these key questions:

Where are all the parts of you that need to feel victimized in order to feel loved?
Where are all the parts of you that still feel unworthy?
And are you willing to love these parts just a little more today?

I encourage you to ask this so that you can be shown these areas that need your love too, so that this newness, this new bulb can have what it needs to grow into a beautiful and powerful new YOU.

You are here to claim all of this, and to be shown the darkest of darkest places that need your love.

You are safe and strong to take this on, to allow this new bud to blossom.

Envision yourself as a strong brave warrior heading into the dark, into the caves and the crevices, and shining the light from your heart into these places and seeing that the shadows are not as scary as once believed.

Envision yourself watering, nurturing, playing music and drawing art and singing and dancing around this new bud in the dark soil, as you love it into being.

As you love YOURSELF into being.


I’m Just a Spiritual Girl, Living In a Material World.

As far as my personal spiritual journey is concerned, this year has been the most challenging and yet has also led to the greatest breakthroughs in my personal growth, and I could not have done it without the guidance and support of my coaches, mentors, community, and soul friendships.

What I’ve noticed along this journey is, the deeper I go, the more apparent the difference is between the two worlds.

When I say the two worlds, I’m speaking of the underworld and the topside world.

The practical world and the spiritual world.

The world of rationality and the world of mystery.

At times I feel like a spiritual girl living in a material world. (cue the referenced Madonna song.)

The world of every day life (jobs, business, clients, relationships) and the world behind the veil (the world of quantum physics, the Goddess, of archetypes, of the collective unconscious).

This year I have been dancing between the two worlds.

Like a game of double-dutch, I’ve been bouncing back and forth – one day in rationality another in mystery.

And it’s been the acceptance of both, that has allowed me to more fully embody myself in this lifetime. Meaning, the more I accept that there’s what we consider the “real world” AND another world that is beyond our physical senses, the more I am able to move through my life with more joy and less suffering. 

Understanding that there are just some things in this world that we cannot logically rationalize or categorize or control, allows us to let go of that which is out of our control, and step into a more empowered role of being co-creators of our lives.

We cannot control everything. And attempting to do so in our lives sets us up for unnecessary frustration, which pulls us out of our FLOW.

In regards to this pursuit of the SELF,  Carl Jung warns us of potential of dangers:

  • We can take the experience of the SELF too seriously and become spiritual addicts, always on the pursuit to do the “work” but never actually integrating into our lives.
  • We may not take our SELF serious enough and ignore lessons we’ve learned, ignore the signs life shows us and continue to repeat patterns that keep us stuck in our lives.
  • Or, if we’re not ready for the jolting experiencing of delving into the psyche, we are so shaken by what we’ve uncovered we become ungrounded and end up floating in space, becoming spiritual lost puppies.

In my experience I’ve tasted all three.

What I also find interesting about the two worlds, is that the world of mystery can be very difficult to understand logically.

And that for me has been one of my greatest challenges – learning to trust the underworld without trying to rationalize it in my mind as there are times I find myself with 1 foot in each of the worlds. In a sort of spiritual purgatory.

In her book, Women Who Run With The Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Esés tells us that:

“This land between the worlds is that inexplicable place we all recognize once we experience it, but its nuances slip away and shapechange if one tries to pin them down, except when we use poetry, music, dance or story.”

This is an incredibly important piece of information to remember if we are on the path to embodiment, meaning, if we are on the path to stepping more fully into our greatest version.

Keep in mind, when double-dutching our way between the world of rationality and the world of mystery: Logic cannot explain the mysteries, the underworld, we must access these points through the arts, through creativity, through story, through dance, through song, through poetry.

And in our overly rationalized, left-brained dominant culture, it’s no wonder why these mysteries, the underworld, the things we just cannot explain, is so under-valued.

In my own pursuits to become a more whole and fully embodied human, I’ve gone on a journey to understand the land of my psyche.

I’m re-learning to speak it’s language by rekindling my love for drawing, and most recently taking up to teaching myself the guitar.

Even though my chords are rough and my transitions are choppy, I find myself completely lost in time when I engage myself in either art of playing the guitar. I have a greater sense of ease and the presence of feeling like I’m failing at life because I’m not doing something “productive” wains away.

Inquiry: Do you find yourself dancing between the worlds? And if you do, what are ways that you connect with this part of you? Is it through dance, meditation, or the arts? I’d love to know in the comments below.

A New Workout For A New Earth: An Illuminating Perspective on Getting Fit, Losing Weight, and Moving Better

Earth as seen from space with sunriseLook around and you’ll begin to notice that a lot is changing in our world, and a lot is changing FAST. As a collective we are, and have been, quickly growing out of old paradigms and ushering in new ways of living that probably would have our great grandparents rolling in their graves.

What’s happening is that as a race, we are growing up and awakening at quite an accelerated rate. And as this happens, what once has worked for us in the past, we suddenly see, no longer does.

You may even notice that more and more people are waking up to the fact that our grandfather’s paradigm of clocking in and out, and waiting ‘till 65 to retire to enjoy life, just isn’t working any more. We are shifting from outdated models of living, into a what is considered, a New Earth. And our paradigms in fitness, are thusly effected.

Having one foot in the spiritual community, and the other in fitness, it often times feels like living at two ends of the spectrum. Being stretched far and thin, and not being able to anchor myself in either of these worlds. While this has been an incredible source of frustration for me in the past, I’m beginning to see just where the gift in this dance lies – and that is the bridge that the fitness world has on the current awakening of the planet.

Having been in fitness for over 10 years, I’m inviting you to open your mind, hop off the elpitical and follow me down the rabbit hole for the next 10 minutes or so. What I am offering here is a new perspective on the future of fitness and it’s role in our awakening.

And first, I want to lead into this discussion with a quote, one I recently stumbled upon that has been lingering on my mind for weeks, and one I felt was pertinent to the topic of the future of fitness and a fitting opening to our discussion today.

“The body remembers what the mind forgets.”

I heard this quote in a podcast re: male circumcision and in the interview, which you can find here, the quote was used to help re-inforce the belief that stress and trauma not only live in our subconscious memory, but also live within the body – within our actual tissues, our muscles, organs, and viscera.

Meaning, not only can we store the memory of trauma in our brains, our physical body can also hold on to the memories of traumatic events.

Along with this concept, I will also add that the body has a propensity to move, contort, and mold itself into different postures as a result of acute and chronic stressors. How we stand and move in the world can say a lot about what we’re thinking and how we’re feeling.

This idea that our physical body can store past trauma and express stress in a corporeal way is not a new concept. The ideas I will discuss here are built upon the works of psychoanalysts Wilhem Reich and Alexander Lowen, to the scientific breakthroughs in the field of psychoneuroimmunology (say that one 3 times fast) of Bruce Lipton and Candace Pert, and the pioneering movement and therapeutic body work of Ida Rolf, Moshe Feldenkrais, and Tomas Hanna, to name a few.

So, what the hell does past trauma and stored stress have to do with the future of fitness and the awakening of the planet?

A lot.

Like, a lot, a lot.

A lot more than the current paradigm of mainstream commercialized fitness is talking about. The concept that our body can hold onto stress and express itself in our posture and movement is a lost and forgotten piece of the fitness puzzle that needs to be brought more into view in order for us who make a career in fitness, to move the industry forward, and for those who engage in fitness, to fully embody ourselves in this lifetime – a necessary component to our awakening.

From my experience both working with clients over the last decade and in observing my own physical, emotional, and spiritual transformations, I’ve grown to trust that our physical body has the potential to reflect our thoughts, feelings, traumas, patterns, inherited beliefs, learned beliefs and manifest them in physical form.

In other words, I strongly believe that our thoughts and our feelings can shape our body.

Want an example? Check this out:

Think back to the last time you were at a haunted house. It was dark, cramped, and you had zero idea of what the hell was going to jump out at you. If you were anything like me, you were probably huddled next to your friends, partially covering your face, gripping onto their fleece jacket with dear life, as you shuffled your way around pitch dark corners, yelping and hollering the whole time.

Can you feel what your body was doing in this moment? Can you sense your shoulders rising towards your ears, your upper back round, your knees bend as you tuck your pelvis?

If you’re nodding your head ‘yes’, this is the sorta response I want to build upon. If you said, no, well then, you’re just a brave bad-ass that would put John Snow to shame and you just may have a career in designing haunted houses yourself.

The reaction that happens in the haunted house is often referred to in the world of somatic movement as the “Red Light Reflex”.

It’s an automatic response of the body elicited by your autonomic nervous system to protect itself – the chest collapses, shoulders round, and the pelvis tucks. All with the intention of protecting our precious internal organs. This is a similiar response that you may have experienced in school when leaning too far back in a chair, and then just at the point when you realize you’re gonna fall backwards, you ricochet your body forward again, bringing your chair back to the ground.

Now there isn’t anything wrong with this, the Red Light Reflex – it’s a totally normal and a legit functioning response of the body, just like poopin’ and pee’ing. It’s just a part of being human.

(Side note: There is also another automatic response called the Green Light Reflex which we we’ll get into in a future post…)

Anywho, why is this important, and WTF does this have anything to do with fitness and our awakening?

Stay with me, we’re getting there…

Now imagine there is a situation in your current life that gives you the same Red Light Reflex.

Can you think of one? Perhaps it’s the sensation of being yelled at by your boss, or your parents, or the feeling of or experience of failure or disappointment. Or daily stress and worry of paying bills.

Now imagine that this situation continues to linger in your life, day in and day out. Say, 5 days a week, from about, eh, 9-5.

Imagine what 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week of this Red Light Reflex would do to your body. To your brain. To your emotions. To your mental well-being.

Over the course of a week, a month…a decade. This becomes so routine that you don’t even notice or are consciously aware how it’s effecting your body or your life – while your conscious mind may have forgotten just how stressful our lives can be (this is protective response to keep you in survival mode), your body certainly remembers.

“The body remembers what the mind forgets.”

To paint a clearer picture of what actually happens in the body during a Red Light Reflex, here are some of the physical effects:

  • Shallow breathing and reduced oxygen consumption – your breath becomes shallow due to a sunken chest
  • Increase in blood pressure – the pressure in your thoracic cavity increases as the weight of your body is pressed forward
  • Increase in heart rate
  • Decrease in HRV (heart rate variability)
  • Increase in sympathetic nervous response and elevated adrenal hormones
  • Decrease in digestive powered due to a decrease in Parasympathetic response
  • Decrease in libido
  • Reduced recovery time
  • Weak and elongated lower back and gluteal muscles
  • Tight and shortened chest and upper trapezius muscles
  • Weak lower abdominal muscles

Perhaps you can begin to see what sorts of long-term effects a persistent Red Light Reflex would have on the body.

Even though we may only spend 15 minutes once a year in the haunted house, we can spend decades worrying about bills, jobs, relationships, and internalized feelings which create a toned down and chronic Red Light Reflex. Rather than having a few minutes of sheer terror, and then leaving the dark allowing your body to come back to homeostasis, we stay in a never ending haunted house that we call life, often times spread out over the course of several decades, or even a life-time.

Maybe you’re starting to see what I’m getting at here…

Perhaps now you can imagine how tight and stressed out this can make your body over time. And not to mention, the potential for blood sugar imbalances, sleep issues, and even weight gain that can happen further down the line due to an increase in sympathetic nervous system response and a decrease in parasympathetic response.

Referring back to the opening quote, “The body remembers what the mind forgets”, we soon forget (or lose awareness) of these effects, but our body continues to feel and express the symptoms.

If we were to just bring our awareness of our body back into our conscious mind, we would realize just how crappy we actually feel and we would begin the process of healing by eventually moving out of lifestyle choices that are negatively impacting our health, thus bringing us more in alignment with ourselves, and moving us forward along our path of awakening.

Instead, we typically mitigate these effects by attempting to cover up or muscle our way through these symptoms whether it be with prescription medication that may not necessarily be needed or grueling exercise that generally force ourselves into cookie cutter workouts designed for the masses, not the individual.

In a body that is already under the constant cultural pressures to do more, be more, have more, never give up or quit, hustle till you drop, burn the candle on both ends mentality, it’s no wonder how we’ve ended up with a fitness system that reflects the very same values we carry to the gym as we carry to the office.

More and more people are choosing to leave the traditional corporate setting, more are delaying marriage and starting a family, and choosing to live more unconventional lifestyles. More people are becoming entrepreneurs, starting their own businesses, and generally giving the middle finger to “the man”.

As someone who has a knack for picking out patterns in both individuals and in the collective, I’m beginning to see the parrallels our evolutionary and cultural awakening is having and will continue to have on the future of the fitness industry. And how the shifting paradigms in fitness, will reciprocally have on our awakening.

As we continue to step into the awakening of our planet, the effects of that will begin to trickle down to the everyday mundaneness of our lives, our workout habits included. And for me, and for the purpose of this blog, I am seeing how this is changing how we view, approach and treat our body in regards to fitness.

As we begin to step away from a very logical, linear model of life – go to school, get a job, have kids, a dog, retire, and die – we are beginning to step into a more wholistic model, one which invites and welcomes all expressions of life to be accepted. One in which we seek out experiences rather than material possessions or cultural status.

Wanna marry someone of the same sex? Why not!

Don’t wanna go to college? Sure!

Wanna make your living posting YouTube videos teaching women how to do their hair? Of course!

As this is happening in our lives, we will also witness a subsequent shift in fitness from the very linear and dogmatic – push more harder faster stronger sweat fitspo don’t rest mentality into, yes, a more wholistic view, where all is welcome, and a shift towards the experience and feeling sense of movement will begin to trump the quest for a solid 6-pack.

Are you a dude and wanna learn to pole dance? Go for it!

Wanna lift super heavy weights and then stand up paddle board? Sounds like fun!

Interested in dancing your socks off at 7 in the morning at sober, morning raves? Rock on!

As we begin to usher in a new paradigm of living on this planet, it’s becoming a priority, and I would go so far as to say, a necessity, for us to learn how to inhabit our physical body, and to listen to and become aware of ourselves in the physical form. This means, shifting our focus on the end result of fitness like weight loss, to focusing on the journey, or the experience of fitness/movement.

Just as we are noticing a shift in our lifestyles to collecting experiences rather than collecting objects, we will also notice a shift into experiencing movement rather than attaining arbitrary fitness measures. Meaning, more people will want to experience new ways of moving their body rather than trying to PR on their deadlift.

One of the first ways we can begin to use fitness to facilitate our awakening is to become aware of our posture and our movements in our daily life. Touching back to the Red Light Reflex, begin to notice how and when you may feel this in your body. Begin to notice your body, begin to notice where you hold your tension, begin to feel your body again.

Begin to see where in your life you can reduce your Red Light Reflexes. The more we become aware of the feelings and sensations in our body, the more we awaken consciously and spiritually.

I strongly believe that the basis of our spiritual awakening begins with coming back INTO the body, and that starts with actually feeling what we’re feeling.

What I’m saying here, and inviting you to consider for yourself is to begin looking at your workouts as way to experience and to feel your body, rather than using them with the intetion to trim, slim, tuck and punish yourself into a smaller frame. I am not saying that wanting to slim or trim your body is wrong, far from it. In this new paradigm as I said, all is welcome. What I am saying is that consider exploring your workouts as a way to expereince and feel your body. Remember what it’s like to be IN your body.

Another useful semantic shift is to begin looking at your workouts as a movement practice – this subtle shift in wording allows for more freedom of expression. When we use the word “workout” we may automatically associate it with a sweaty class, joining a gym, or workouts that leave us feeling depelted.

And if we don’t fit ourselves into one of those options, we may feel like we are doing it “wrong”. However, when we begin to think of fitness as a movement practice, we open ourselves to greater options – now a hike, dancing, or light stretching becomes a ‘workout’, and essentially, no form of workout is ever “wrong”.

Try this: Next time you’re at spin class, see what happens when you focus on feeling what is going on in your body and in your breath, rather than just zoning out to make it through the workout. How present can you stay in your body during the hour? And at the end, ask yourself if this style of movement is something you truly enjoy?

These practices that I’m inviting you to consider, I feel, will be as important as any of your current spiritual or personal development practices. Going to your yoga or strength class and feeling your body will be as much a practice as your meditations and tarot card readings.

Want to connect with the Divine? Begin by connecting with your body and feeling your body, especially during your workouts.

The more you are aware of your body and it’s sensations, and how you hold yourself, the greater your level of awakening.

Although it’s taken some time for the mainstream fitness realm to feel the trickling effects of the awakening consciousness on our planet, the signs are clear that a paradigm shift in the fitness industry is occuring.

We are seeing more movement practices based on the quality of movement and sensations; we are seeing movement practices that are partnering itself with nature; we are seeing movement practices that are free-flowing and tap into our sensuality; we are beginning to take the steps out of the typical linearity, one dimensional fitness paradigms and take on a wholistic, more aware model.

As the planet continues on its path of awakening, we will continue to see the world of fitness transform, and as the world of fitness transforms, we will continue to see the planet awaken.