I worked for 16 years as an osteopath, helping people correct ailments by working on the structural aspect of their health, but after deciding I needed a career change I initially trained as a personal trainer and gym instructor, because I realised that I wanted to help people improve their health by taking more control themselves in more active ways.
I discovered that working in gyms, however, although my clients were being more proactive, they were essentially limiting themselves to improving structural disorders in a quite formulaic manner.
Many years before I had studied Tai Chi for a short time, and I felt the time had come to investigate it further, as I knew it was something that improved not only physical health, but also mental wellbeing.
I went to China, initially expecting to stay for 6 months to a year and discovered that I was getting so much out of Tai Chi that I wanted to take it further, so I ended up staying for three-and-a-half years.
Tai Chi is calming.
It makes both the body and the mind feel good. It strengthens and mobilises the body, improving posture, and it clears and calms the mind. Like most things that are good for you it requires discipline, but the rewards are many.
I like that it is not a quick fix, but a long term, in fact lifetime process not of becoming healthy, but of being healthy.
It involves not only movement, but meditation and breathing. There is nothing I have come across which improves general “wellness” more.
Since practicing Tai Chi I have found that I am ill less often, I am less anxious and happier, and I suffer from fewer aches and pains.
As a personal trainer my role is to help people achieve their own health and fitness goals, but where I differ from other PTs is that my experience as an osteopath has given me a lot of experience in seeing the problems which people bring on themselves not only through exercising badly but also through the repetitive strain that gradually builds in a body from constant misuse and over-use from bad habits in employment and everyday life.
I can tailor an individual program to compensate for the imbalances caused by this repetitive micro-trauma.
My training in Qigong and Tai Chi also helps me to address the problems of stress and the inability to “switch off” so prevalent in modern life, so a typical program might include not only toning and improving cardio fitness, but also gentle movement and relaxation, depending on the client’s needs.
Good food, Tai Chi, and the game of Go, which is the gymnasium for my mind.
I do not dream of holidays, but my ideal holiday is to go somewhere beautiful and learn something new – it could be anything from a new style of cooking to wind-surfing – while leaving enough time to read a novel.
It would also have to include plenty of good food!