I’m still recovering from a bad flu. I don’t have any flu symptoms per se, and even though it’s been a week and a half since my last bad day, I’m pretty fatigued. I also have “flu brain,” which I will attribute to the Chinese herbs I took to help me fight the virus. My 2-week personal illness drama wasn’t fun—it never is—but I am grateful for the reminder it gave me. It made me remember what it feels like to be inside a body that is entirely drained of energy. It also gave me an automatic filter that had an unpleasant view of the world. You might say this filter is more akin to a metaphoric pair of glasses I wore for a few days. Through these glasses I saw a world that was dull, unsympathetic, blurry and, well, hostile.
I knew I was wearing these glasses. There was no denying they were sitting squarely on my “face.” And still it colored the way I moved through each morning, noon and night. A friend of mine believes it’s easy to take these “glasses” off. “Just make a different choice” he says. And while this is good basic life coaching advice, I personally feel it falls way short in acknowledging, validating and addressing the complexities of the human existence.
So here I am at IDEA World Fitness Convention, wearing my filter glasses. You’re wearing yours too, don’t doubt it. As a journalist (a “classically” trained one, not a new media maven, thank you very much), objectivity was drilled into my brain. You never take sides, you are supposed to always share both sides of the story—even if it is a story you don’t personally agree with or like. I strive to do this, and I believe I do a fairly good job. But honestly, the things I am drawn to report in this blog are things that I view through my filter glasses.
For example, in Helen Vanderburg’s session Yoga for the Hips and Back, she spent a lot of time reviewing the anatomy of the lumbo-pelvic region and also detailed many common disorders clients may present. Why did I take vociferous notes, besides the fact that it’s my job? Because I’ve personally had these disorders, specifically sacroiliac joint dysfunction. It resonated with me on a deeper level than a session on, say, prenatal yoga would. And I wasn’t alone. When she asked how many people in the audience had experience with lower back pain, half of the class raised their hands. “As much as we hate to be injured, doesn’t it teach us a lot?” Vanderburg asked.
Indeed. Pain and injury is the gateway to a career for many fitness professionals (and fitness industry journalists). When we learn how the body works and how we might be able to “fix it,” it turns on a lot more than the neuromuscular system.
And I would bet money that ears have filters too. In John Garey’s class STOTT PILATES® Pilates for Men, attendees jumped right into program design, with an eye toward the male client. There were four pages of detailed repertoire to move through, and Garey did it with his usual flawless expertise. It was very appealing to us visual and kinesthetic learners, but my ears perked up when he gave this cue: “don’t let your shoulders visit your ears.”
Come again? I loved this cue and it stood out for me above all others. Why? Because my shoulders are constantly visiting my ears, to the detriment of my scalenes and traps. While I was engaged with the entire session, Garey really grabbed me with that cue because it passed through my funnel filter faster due to personal experience.
All this filtering makes me wonder: what am I missing out on? What are you missing because your filter is tilted a particular way? And is that lost tidbit of information the key to an unlocked door where treasure awaits? How can we remedy this? How do you recalibrate a filter you may not know you have? And, more importantly, how is your filter affecting your ability to design a great program for your client or class?
I’m going to leave you with one suggestion, and it comes from this year’s Inspiration Award winner, Scout Bassett, Actually, the story came from her mother, Susi. Scout is a challenged athlete who competes in triathlons. She lost one of her legs in an accident when she was very young. Susi talked about how frustrating it was to Scout when she wasn’t allowed to participate in key plays during a softball game because the coaches wanted to ensure a win. The coaches viewed Scout as disabled. From their filters, this meant that she couldn’t perform on par with others. Think about the damaging message this sends not only to disabled people, but their teammates as well. Scout challenged her coaches and, furthermore, went on to prove them wrong in so many ways.
Try viewing your life, your business and your clients from a fresh perspective. Ask someone else to tell you what it looks like from their viewpoint. This may enrich your life—and someone else’s—in ways you may not be able to wrap your brain around in this moment.