In my teenage years when I was very active and sporty, the words ‘gentle exercise’ were like a foreign language to me. I had a black belt in karate, represented my state in basketball, won tennis championships, and I regularly went swimming and to the gym – it was an area of my life where I was considered successful. On reflection, I was not as successful as I could have been as there was always a drive to do better, achieve more or win more championships.
The way I had to push my body with karate is something I find hard to re-visit. There are memories of running barefoot on gravel and not wanting to come last because I would be made to do it again; memories of smashing my shins into those of heavy, grown men – and I was a delicate 12 year old girl in a class of adults.
My focus during exercise was always on pushing my body to do more. There was no enjoyment in the process of exercising – instead my mindset was that it was good for my body; or that by winning I was better than others.
When I used to look at my body it was almost with a cloudy vision and I would look at what I didn’t like … my thighs could be thinner, or my hips not so wide.
Recently I started doing weekly exercise classes with Danielle Pirera and her Re-Connect Exercise program. These classes and their gentle way of exercising are like no other exercise I have experienced before. I have been able to break a lot of my old patterns of how I exercised as well as discover the beauty and power of my body.
Doing Re-Connect Exercise classes with Danielle feels amazing; to move my body and to build my strength in a way where I am listening to my body and am present with my body and what I am feeling. My body feels vibrant with a real flow through it now. There is no longer the continual heaviness in my legs that I often experienced. Over the last 6 months the way I view my body has changed so dramatically: now when I look at my body I see a beautiful, powerful, strong and sexy woman.
I have also been able to heal the damage I did to myself from my former ways of exercising. The first time Danielle suggested push-ups against the wall, I cringed at the thought and I was thrown back to memories of my karate days. But this time I was able to do the push-ups in a different way and re-imprint how I now know push-ups can be – healing for the body and not harming it.
As a high school student I would wear ankle weights daily and I was constantly trying to make sure no one noticed. And they were so uncomfortable! I wanted my legs to be thinner and more toned and I thought by wearing ankle weights I could speed up achieving this goal. I recently bought myself some ankle weights to use in the Re-Connect Exercise class. The first time I went to put them on, I nearly couldn’t – the memories of my teenage years were almost too much for me. I went straight back to the huge lack of self-worth I felt as a seventeen year old. I did put them on, however this time I did it with love for my body and because I wanted to support my leg exercises and not to change the shape of my legs.
To re-visit that time of my life has been so incredibly healing; I could begin to let go of all the pain I carried from those years when I hated my body and was so consumed by how my body looked.
To exercise in a gentle way while being fully present with myself blows other ways of exercising out of the water.
My way of exercising in my teenage years left a bad taste in my mouth and from that I shunned traditional forms of exercise. Discovering this new way of gentle exercise has allowed me to discover a different way of being with my body. I have entered into a new relationship with my body – one that is based on love and support and I’m looking forward to further developing this new long term relationship.
By Nikki McKee, Administration, Goonellabah, Australia