Bringing Mind Body to Your Facility, Part 1Tuesday, July 24, 2012 7:21
Mind/body fitness — what is it? Who does it? Is it necessary for a facility to incorporate it into its programming? These are some of the current questions circulating in the fitness industry. In response, let me share a personal experience with mind/body fitness at The Marsh, A Center for Balance and Fitness in Minneapolis, Minn.
First, remember that the most important thing is to know and follow your own mission statement. It is not helpful for a club to incorporate mind/body programming if the mind/body connection isn’t part of its mission.
At The Marsh, we strive to take care of the body while nurturing the mind. We seek a balance between self-care and reaching out to others, between the active and passive, and acknowledge the twists and turns in people’s lives.
What is mind/body fitness
Although it is now considered a trend in fitness and health, mind/body is not a specific track or method — it is an overall approach, a culture within clubs and centers.
Mind/body is based on how thoughts and emotions affect physical health. It involves seeing members and clients as whole persons and acknowledging that the mind must be exercised and cared for as much as the body. It capitalizes on the understanding about the mind’s capacity to influence the body.
The concept of mind/body connection is centuries old. People are relearning lessons from the past and from other cultures. They are learning about “connectedness” to the earth, to nature and to family from the Native Americans, about the natural ways of moving the body with soul from the Africans and Eastern philosophies, and about balance, power in yielding and conflict resolution from the Chinese.
Mind/body programming involves opening health clubs to all people. It seeks to help members who have anxiety about coping with the sometimes harsh facts of life, and places emphasis on the quality of life, rather than a fear-based system for survival. Mind/body can help create a way for people to gather support to make changes in their lives.
Many people want to be heard, respected and empowered with choices. This can mean exploring social and spiritual dimensions and mental health, to create a community of trust and hopefulness. It also means allowing people to be who they are in a diverse community and inspiring people to take charge of their lives and their health.
How to begin a program
The best place to practice mind/body programs is in a community where there is a feeling of connectedness — a place where stress and loneliness are addressed with the same concern as a workout, nutrition and physical rehabilitation.
So, how do you begin implementing mind/body into your programming? This will vary from club to club and depend on its mission statement. Make sure your staff members are attentive, good listeners, approachable and willing to share their life experiences.
Also, address each member as a whole person. Include a spa, conference center, clinic, restaurants and a shop, in addition to a fitness center and pools, to integrate the social, physical and emotional aspects of your members.
While this may not be feasible or desirable for many clubs, you can integrate some of these ideas without spending a lot of money or changing the atmosphere of your club. Remember that if mind/body doesn’t feel congruent with your priorities, perhaps it isn’t the right time or place for mind/body programming.