Just before New Year’s Eve, as a strategy to solve my current problem of under employment, I took out a membership in the Vancouver Board of Trade.

I was a member through the agency I worked for, and in fact, I am a volunteer ambassador there. That gives me an excuse to be helpful with other members by mingling and networking. I thought I might be able to mingle my way to a new position somewhere.

Ambassadors meet monthly, and I renewed my membership in tome to attend the last meeting last Wednesday. There, I got to hear an exciting lecture by ny friend Ray Williams. Ray, who among other things is a regular contributor for publications such as Psychology Today, treated us to a lecture on Mindfulness.

Mindfulness basically means living in the moment. He spoke of it as a great way to control stress in our lives. He went on to day that meditation was a great way to achieve the state of mindfulness. The 7:00 AM start of the meeting was not very conducive to paying attention and living in the moment, as I took the opportunity to apply it to something I know about.


I began to trace the evolution of fitness classes from ancient times (1975) to present, and how it is an instrument of evolving mindfulness.

Back in the 70s and 80s, fitness classes were of the freestyle variety. They involved doing endless periods of jumping jacks and running on the spot. These events carried on for the better part of half an hour. Participants expected pain, and pain is what they got as their hearts and lings jumped out of their chests and began to jog along beside them. It was all physical. “Chew me up and spit me out,” was the mantra.

During the hour, a participants mind was free to wander as the body did all the work. I recall one class I wrote an outline in my head for a play. When I wrote it down I was able to sell it for $1,000.

The class, as far as involvement was concerned, was mindless. You came to the class not to take a break from the work-a-day world, but to pump yourself up to do your work better.

It was probably about 1987 when a change happened. It happened with the introduction of step classes. Cle classes became patterned. That means there were long and involved patterns that commanded a fair bit of concentration on the part of the participants. There was mindfulness in that the mind needed to control all those repeating intricate movements the body was expected to do.

I teach this way. When I teach this way, I can feel the momentum of the class. It feels like a train. If I make one wrong move, I feel the train would derail. Sometimes it feels like the truck would drive into the ditch.

There is no chance that anyone would get any work done in these classes. The participants are too mindfully engaged in the class. Time, in these classes goes by incredibly quickly. Taking a patterned class is like taking a holiday. You finish tired, sweaty and refreshed.

At about 2008, classes began to return to more freestyle again. Classes like Boot Camp, Cardio Kickboxing, Insanity, and Boxercise, and, to a certain extent, Zumba, are causing a shift back to basics where participants are abandoning mindfulness in favour of the stress of the office.

Suddenly Ray’s lecture was over. He asked whether anyone had any questions. My hand shot up, but I realize I would never be able to formulate the above argument so early in the morning. I asked, “Are some drivers practising meditation when they drive?”

“No Mike,” he said. “They’re in a trance – much the same as you are now.”

Mike Broderick WAS the Employment Specialist for the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby where he FOUND employment for people with physical disabilities.
He remains an active ambassador with the Vancouver Board of Trade and a member of the Labour Task Force of the Burnaby Board of Trade He does some work as a field Archaeologist and is a fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to alive magazine in Port Coquitlam. You can reach him at home at or at 604-464-4105.

If you’re looking for a career change, he is the Spin Doctor and can give you a resume makeover at competitive rates .

Happy New Year! Apparently 22% of companies in the Greater Vancouver area will be hiring within the next month. Get your resumes ready.


9 Responses to “THE ZEN OF FITNESS”

  1. Sharon Says:

    Uh oh! Mindfulness is great, but I usually wander in mindlessness. Good job, Mike.

  2. Homepage Says:

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  3. Lisa Smith Molinari Says:

    As much of a scatterbrain as I can be, I love “mindful” classes like hard core Step II. Too bad step classes seem to have gone out of style like leg warmers and mullets!

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  5. April Landrum Says:

    Hello, I enjoy your blog. Is there something I can do to obtain updates like a subscription or some thing? I am sorry I am not familiar with RSS?

    • mikebroderick Says:

      Hi April, and thanks for pointing this out. I have hust added a “Follow” button to the top right hand corner of the page(s) Clich on it, apply your email address, and read me for the rest of your life.

  6. Fitness London Says:

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  7. Epping Forest Says:

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  8. Open Office Says:

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