MINDFULNESS AND THE ZEN OF FITNESS


In recent years, I have had occasion to suffer through many presentations on mindfulness. They’re embarrassing for me. Usually after the first thirty seconds of guided imagery I get placed in a choke hold by the arms of Morpheus and all I get out of it is a nap and dirty looks from the presenter and all the other participants for ruining the ambiance by snoring.

“I dare you to do that while you’re driving,” I said on more than one occasion.

That brings us to last Saturday morning when I had a class of 16 people – 8 of whom were on cardio machines and in need of some coaching.

“Come on you guys on cardio.” I shouted in my most effective coaching voice. “Put a little oomph into it! Go after it! It’s not going to come to you! Drop that mindfulness and get busy.”

“You know,” said Erin, who was doing concentration curls on a bench and making veins appear on her well defined biceps. “In Zen, the opposite of mindfulness is ‘Active Doing.’”

“‘Active Doing,’” I repeated to myself. Suddenly a theory of fitness, which I have been teaching for most of the past 30 years, snapped into focus.

I always thought that there are two types of fitness classes. One of these are freestyle classes. These are ones that have participants running on the spot for long periods of time with your knees up around ear level. These are classes that are purely physical.  Most of the tunes are in 4/4  or sometimes 6/8 time signatures, but it doesn’t matter. They give people the opportunity to have your mind think about anything else but fitness. I once wrote an entire play while taking a freestyle class, and earned $1,000 for my efforts. These are ‘Active Doing’ classes.

The other type of class is the patterned class, which relies on teaching participants complicated choreography which, in the end, becomes a performance. Everyone strives to get the class without making mistakes. Step classes are like this. There is so much time spent on getting it right that the hour passes very quickly. The only thing that breaks the concentration is the music where there all the tunes are in 4/4 time signatures. If a 6/8 or 3/4 time signature is thrown into the mix, people think they’ve grown an extra leg and they’ll hate the instructor for it.

There is something completely hypnotic about the concentration involved in patterned classes that is reminiscent of the naps I’ve had in mindfulness presentations.

Most of the classes I have taught over my career have, ironically, been of the mindfulness variety.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “What kind of class did Mission, BC’s Calree Lee Jepson take before she wrote this:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWNaR-rxAic ?”

Mike Broderick , a one- time archaeologist, is a Vocational Rehabilitation Counsellor with the Fraser Health Authority in Port Coquitlam where he helps people with mental health disabilities find and keep full or part time employment .

He WAS the Employment Specialist for the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby where he found employment for people with physical disabilities, A Supported Employment Coordinator at THEO BC (now the Open Door Group), and a case manager at Community Fisheries Development Centre where he helped people move from the fishing industry to something else because there, “Aint no fish.” This means he is VERY familiar with how a modern day resume should look.

He is a newly retired ambassador with the Vancouver Board of Trade and a former member of the Labour Task Force of the Burnaby Board of Trade He does some work as a field Archaeologist, is a fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to Alive Magazine. He is always saying, “If you can’t be fit, you can at least be funny.”

He lives in Port Coquitlam with his spouse Cecelia. You can reach him at home at michael_broderick@telus.net  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.

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4 Responses to “MINDFULNESS AND THE ZEN OF FITNESS”

  1. energywriter Says:

    So funny. Good to see you back here again. I’ve missed your outlook recently.

  2. energywriter Says:

    BTW, Cool video. Like the music.

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