Understanding Fear

Understanding Fear

Written By: Paul DeAngelis

As people get older, they solidify; they’re set in their habits, and aren’t likely to change in major ways. They hurt a lot more, they’ve experiences failures, and they’ve been through the ringer. They know what it’s like out there in the real world, and that a lot of it involves some level of fear.

It’s understandable to have fear; we all do! It’s human. It’s ok to be comfortable, but not all the time. Not if you want to progress and remain healthy in mind and body, as we are meant for constant adaptation. It’s the expectation of fear that makes it so hard for people to alter their habits. People, understandably, have a tendency to prefer all things comfortable. This means that they also expect change to happen in their preferred comfortable circumstances. Unfortunately, this isn’t how it works.

Our bodies and our minds were meant to adapt! It’s part of our biology! This is what I try to keep in mind whenever I develop training programs.

What are the best places to hit during training? Weaknesses. You have to start with the weakest parts of yourself to lay down a solid foundation for improvement. The only problem with this is that it’s an uncomfortable process; people might be embarrassed about their abilities, or want to avoid any kind of discomfort. There’s an element of fear here too; the fear of change, and the fear of feeling exposed. This is almost universally what holds people back.

Think about what movement really is. You establish a balanced position, fall out of it, and then reestablish a new one. That moment of falling is scary for some people! It’s something we’re even warned against as children: “Don’t climb too high, don’t go too fast, you might fall”. But that’s exactly what movement is! Have you ever watched children playing in the yard, or at a playground? They are totally unrestricted, free from the weight of life.

Good training protocols are meant to elicit that spark in your life, the same one you felt when you were experiencing the essence of movement as children, in order to move you forward. The fear doesn’t have to hinder you. Good training involves the understanding of the fear, and understanding that falling is a natural part of the process!

The Intelligence of Your Body

The Intelligence of Your Body

Written by: Christine De Bellefeuille

I have a saying that I use in each of my classes: “Listen to the intelligence of your body”. Often, when we are engaged in physical activity, we have a tendency to misuse our vessel. Many of us still abide by the old adage “If it hurts, it works”, or “No pain, no gain”, pushing the limits of our bodies to a point of injury.

This is a terrible idea. If it feels wrong, it is wrong.

The key to knowing whether or not your movements are detrimental is being present with your body. During your classes, it should never be a case of going through the motions; you should always be paying attention to what your body is telling you to do, or to stop doing. You need to establish a strong neural-muscular connection to ensure each message your body is sending you is received, and understood.

How can you strengthen this mind-body connection? Firstly, you need to leave whatever’s happening outside; thinking about conflicts, to-do lists, or even groceries can distract from what your body is doing. Second, slow down. Everything is go-go-go these days, from texting, to e-mail, to fast food. Take a moment, breathe deeply, and you will feel everything just a little bit more. Give yourself time to reflect on the subtleties of your body. Lastly, remember “No Pain, More Gain”. When exercising, you want to feel the challenge in your movements, but you always want to stop before the point of injury. I want my clients to consistently walk out of their classes feeling better than when they walked in.

You must be an active participant in communicating with your muscles; you are the one in your own body, so you must decide if what you’re doing is positive or negative. You should constantly be asking yourself “Am I feeling something because I’m tight, or because I’m going to injure myself?” Asking yourself (and your coach!) these questions makes you more aware of your body, your positioning, and your limits.

In my days of professional dancing, pain used to mean that I was doing something the way it was instructed to be; few things are as painful as pointe shoes! Now, however, it’s all about quality of movement over quantity.

The clients who feel their very best after years and years of exercising are those that have developed the mind-body connection. It might not have been there initially, but through years of listening and learning, it has been established. The more you practice paying attention, the more the connection will improve! As I always say “Practice makes better”.