The Oxford dictionary defines fitness as being physically fit and healthy. Wikipedia says it’s the general state of good health usually as a result of exercise and nutrition. The President’s Council on Physical Fitness states that physiological wellbeing is achieved through a combination of exercise and other practices that pertain to good health. Being fit is the ability to carry out our daily tasks with alertness and vigor, without fatigue and with enough energy to deal with daily challenges, as well as enjoy leisure time pursuits. This reflects the traditional Western definition of fitness.
In Eastern practices, fitness encompasses multiple aspects of the being. For example, Yoga is a practice, or art of harmonizing a system of development for the mind, body and spirit. The continued practice of Yoga leads to a sense of peace, wellbeing and being one with the environment. The Taoist view of health and fitness is that it is a unified system in which the physical, mental and spiritual aspects are all connected with an emphasis on energy. Obviously Eastern practices have taken it further, not just looking at the physical but also taken into account mental aspects of fitness and wellness.
Through research we are getting to understand the mind-body connection much more and hence combining traditional Western and Eastern practices. We are learning about the negative effects of stress on our overall mental, emotional, as well as physical health. We are also learning about the benefits of stress management techniques such as meditation and how it can positively affect our overall health, as well as job performance and overall enjoyment of life.
Integrative Personal Training – A Combination of East & West
Integrative fitness takes the approach of combining the Western and Eastern models. Integrative training includes modalities such as Yoga, Meditation, Martial Arts, Thai Chi and Qi Gong. It can also utilize various stress management techniques such as massage, meditation, visualization, and even hypnotherapy. Here are a few examples of how integrative personal training stands out from our traditional understanding of fitness.
• As our population ages and we live longer, more people are searching for gentler, more appropriate techniques to stay in shape, which integrative training is well-suited to address.
• A well-rounded integrative trainer can customize a program using multiple techniques that address the client’s specific challenges and goals.
• As the world we all live in has become much faster paced and more stressful, stress reducing techniques complement a fitness workout.
• Proper nutrition plays a key role, in addition to physical modalities, for attaining good health.
What good is a training session if the client gets in a great workout but their heart rate and blood pressure are through the roof? There needs to be a balance to address all issues. By integrating a variety of techniques, a trainer can greater insure the overall health of their client. In my own Integrative Personal Training practice, I might work with a client on Kettlebell techniques, integrate Thai Massage, as well as mindfulness and breath awareness to help them relax and prepare them for the physical demands of exercise. Similarly, for a person who meditates but is also obese, I would help them get into better physical shape as well as help them get a better handle on how they eat. In most cases, no one improvement, whether it be exercise or diet, will have the impact on health that is desired.