|Synergy Fitness - Exercise for the Whole Body|
(Open Exchange article) by Anna Shapiro and Rebecca D'Amour
We are very fortunate in the Bay Area to have access to a multitude of alternative health care providers, body-workers, organic foods, natural products, and fitness/movement techniques. One of the more difficult areas to seek out is a fitness technique that’s right for you. A technique should be open enough to accommodate many different physical types and personality types, and a teacher or trainer should tailor a program that addresses you as a unique being, not molding you into what they think you ought to be.
Through research and subjective experience, we are finding that our thoughts and attitudes can either strengthen or weaken our immune system, and conversely, that chronic illness, injuries can have a depressive effect on the mind and the spirit. Thus, a holistic approach to physical fitness makes sense.
One of the pioneers of the holistic approach in our culture was a man named Joseph H. Pilates. Born in Germany in 1880, he was a weak and sickly child, due to rickets and rheumatic fever. Pilates developed an interest in physical conditioning in order to defend himself from school yard bullies.
Pilates left Germany for Great Britain in 1912 to train as a professional boxer, but the outbreak of the first World War curtailed that goal, as he was interned working as a nurse in a camp for enemy aliens. Because many of the injured were bedridden, Pilates invented a pulley system that would allow the patients to regain strength, mobility and flexibility from their beds. The patients that Pilates worked with experienced a miraculous recovery.
This system was the predecessor to the unique equipment that Pilates would later develop in the U.S. Many have stated that he was a man 50 years ahead of his time, which can be evidenced by the current popularity of not only his methods, but also yoga, Feldenkrais, etc.
More and more people are discovering the joy and the increased quality of life that genuine physical fitness brings. Fortunately, we have gotten past the 1980s, which brought a larger consciousness of fitness, but with a mechanistic view of the body as something to be aerobicized into shape on the quest for perfection.
We are now faced with the challenge of integrating diverse disciplines. When a single person develops a system like Pilates did, a system that produces extraordinary results, there is always the temptation to stay within the prescribed structure. Yet we are constantly learning more about how different disciplines connect and how we can apply them to suit each individual.
At Synergy Fitness, in addition to using Pilates equipment, Rebecca D'Amour and her trainers are continuously learning new techniques to increase the efficancy of their work with clients.
Synergy Fitness does not emphasize any one technique rather it incorporates strength and rehabilitation training with release work, such as myofascial and Rolfing techniques.
It is a mistake to approach the body with a rigid method. Just as a person might respond to a certain psychotherapy, others will not respond at all. This is why a good therapist/teacher is always open to new angles to serve those that do not respond to an orthodox method; some hallmarks of a good trainer include the ability to diagnose a person’s body patterns, to see which patterns are functional and dysfunctional, to assess injuries as well as creating a program to integrate new positive patterns with the existing functional patterns. It is also important to find out what the client’s wants, needs, and level of commitment are.
Perhaps most importantly, fitness should be enjoyable—a release from the stresses of our frenetic society. Too many see exercise as a chore or a burden, as another unpleasant task to check off. Exercise should be an essential part of our day that we look forward to, like sleeping and eating. And just as sleeping or eating can take on a spiritual dimension, so it can be with movement.