Collective Fitness

There is a well-known African proverb which states, “It takes a village to raise a child”, but I believe this proverb can be extended to a community’s health and fitness too. The longer I lead exercise classes with the people in my community, the more I have come to  believe in village dynamics; because it truly takes a village to raise a community’s collective health and well-being.

I’ve thought much about the ‘active community’ within the small, rural town in which I work and live; of those whom I instruct in Zumba and personal training and balance and strength groups, they have become my family. They are indiviually and collectively my  tribe. They are my happy place; my cherished people. When our regular times to move together are disrupted, my happiness quotient is diminished until we re-engage. And it seems this sentiment is felt by most all those who identify themselves with any given  active tribe.

It occurs to me, that being a part of an active tribe is an especially essential component to the well-being of the ‘over the hill’ gang. Mature bodies require a great deal of extrinsic motivation to stay physically active and engaged. But the truth of the matter is people of every age and stage need, depend, and crave an active ‘village’ to stay on track with health and fitness goals. And when one participates within their active village, the collective energy and enthusiasm provides a collective power to keep its members happily moving together, physically and socially.

As a fitness instructor, I benefit from these group dynamics just as much as those who attend my exercise classes. I notice that we all depend on and look forward to our group movement with great expectations; our times together revitalize and energize all who participate…in body, mind, and spirit.

Ailing bodies don’t keep us sick. Our attitudes and perspectives do.  Karen Casey

I should not be surprised by this phenomenon, but I am, and I want to write about this so as to encourage my readers to never neglect the importance and value of their ‘village’ people. It makes no matter, the size of your tribe, when two or more gather for purposeful movement, lives are impacted and well-being is extended into the community. We all need an active tribe of which we may call our own. Happy, healthy lives are not created in solitary, isolated pursuit, but rather in ‘tribal’ collectives of like minded individuals.

If you belong to an active community of exercising people whom you consider your ‘tribe’ then you no doubt have reaped the benefits of your collective. If you want to raise the well-being of your village, seek out those community members who need a ‘tribe’ to join. Pass the baton of well-being on to those within your community; it’s no harder than inviting a neighbor or friend to take a walk-about your village. Every step together builds your village strong and healthy!

An Invitation to Revolution

change-aheadWhether or not we like it, growth (physical, mental, social, spiritual) requires revolution; a change in direction or movement or thought. There can be no progress, no creative flow, no gains in health or fitness without change. All of creation, both visible and invisible, is designed to thrive in the realm of change. The seasons and their regular permeations support the growth cycles of all living things in the seas and on the land. Our bodies are best nourished when we eat those foods that grow in season; a diet limited in variation is a diet destined to promote disease and ill health. In the realm of education, business, and fine arts, the finest programs mosaic curriculums across a spectrum of specialties and fields of concentration to promote students who are flexible in thought and process. A similar approach is used when designing a comprehensive exercise program. The best plans are those that integrate a mixture of activities that encourage the building of strength, cardio-respiratory endurance, flexibility, and balance into our physical bodies. If change is so central to how the world turns, then why do we so resist it? Why do we insist on becoming set in our ways? If change is integral to growth, and growth is the essence of vitality, then surely we must revise our perspective on this inevitability or suffer stagnation and regression in every area of our life. If we have breath to breathe, then it’s not too late to adopt a positive mind-set towards the changes we face in life. Simple things like choosing a new genre in regards to the types of books, movies and activities in which we engage can prime and supercharge us for new areas of learning and creativity. One thing is for certain in life, that change visits us all with alarming regularity. While some may say that all change is not necessary to growth, I would rather submit that all change is our invitation to choose growth and even perhaps a small revolution!

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. Wayne Dyer

Loss is nothing else but change, and change is Nature’s delight. Marcus Aurelius

An Army of One

I have always been intrigued by the ‘Army of One’ slogan. It conjures the image of an individual dressed in military camouflage engaged in military activities without the benefit of doing those activities with the Army of Others. The ‘One’ ideal, it seems, is more adept at preparing an Army of ‘individuals’ to work together rather than training the ‘herd’ to work as an Army. Regardless of whether this ideal works for training soldiers, it has merit when applied to our own individual goals, especially in regards to our exercise or fitness goals. There are myriad plans and trainers to chose from in the current marketplace. Whether virtual or local, the fitness market is flooded with exercise programs that can be trendy or based on solid training principles; it can be difficult to know which activities are safe or worthwhile in which to engage. However, if we employ the ‘Army of One’ mentality to our exercise training, this gives us the freedom to pick and choose the setting, the exercise and the intensity that best suits are current fitness needs. Consulting or training with an exercise professional will almost always enhance your exercise outcomes too. The most important thing to remember is this: if you want to be an Army of One, then you have to train like you have enlisted for service. You must follow up on the commitment you made to yourself, and engage in those activities that will bring you health and vitality each day of the year.

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