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Finding that Mind & Body Connection:
What it Means for One’s Fitness Journey

Life is like a long road with multiple intersections. Whether you’re speeding along in a car, enjoying the ride on a bicycle, or slowly making your way walking, you’re progressing. Ultimately, that’s the hardest thing, to keep moving and making decisions that set the course of our experiences. 

Similar to being on the road, there are longer or shorter ways of getting where we want in life; it’s all about the preparation we willingly undertake to set ourselves up for success. We all have those moments where we judge ourselves and those around us or where we are more critical, but preparation ensures we don’t go through life doubting our direction. When we give ourselves the time to prepare, we have the chance to feel connected with our decisions, which increase the odds of us sticking to them and feeling content. Now, I’m not saying you’ll never doubt yourself cause let’s face it, that’s human nature, but allowing preparation will lessen the frequency of the doubt.

A connection is often unspoken, it’s felt, it’s the “energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” This brilliant quote by Brené Brown hits the nail on the head and reveals how ultimately, connections are our essence, it’s part of the reason we do what we do. 

Brown’s eloquent way of talking about the power of connections driving life reminds me of my fellow dancers. We were all connected by the love for dance, which helped us establish a sentiment of belonging and facilitated the work we had to do. There was an unspoken understanding that we were willingly choosing dance and all it meant. It was after leaving the dance world and choosing that fitness would remain a part of my future that I learned that you could create your own space and draw in likeminded people to feel that deep connection. I did just that by becoming a Fitness Coach! 

When we connect and establish that mind, body, and soul connection, we commit as we give ourselves permission or more precisely, the power to be who we are. When that happens, we show up and step into the fullest version of ourselves; we create an environment where others can open up and do the same. In that spirit, I wanted to share my journey and the role fitness played in changing my life; yes, I know that’s a bold statement, but it really has. I’m not one for sharing a lot about myself, but it’s something I’ve started to do more freely. My hope is that doing so will show others they can do the same. 

Health and fitness topics represent the epitome of our choices and, ultimately, our lifestyle. Nowadays, fitness has become one of the most talked about topics, which makes sense considering its impact on all aspects of daily life. But let’s be clear, talking about fitness has nothing to do with attaining a specific body type. Instead, it’s about building confidence as we strengthen our body and thank it for all it allows us to do, which is the embodiment of health. Health and fitness are intertwined, but for the most part, both are forgiving and offer room to fail and try again; it’s all about focusing on improving rather than impressing. I think failing is the way we reach our goals; without failure to test our resilience, to push us out of our comfort zone, we won’t grow, and growth is our true success.  

So, let’s talk about fitness and delve deeper to discover how our mind and body connection shapes our journey. We all face obstacles, but if our mindset is resilient, then we’ll find ways to address those obstacles and move through what we face to get to where we are meant to be—our goal.

All journeys are different. For me, it was unique in that it was never about finding fitness; it went the other way around as fitness found me at the young age of two and changed my life.

It all started when my mom signed me up for ballet at the age of two. Dancing brought me joy; I would cry when it was time to leave the studio. I connected with everything about dance. I quickly developed a passion for the art of dance. I can remember giving my mom and nanny little performances on the hearth of the fireplace. My introduction to fitness at a young age shaped my whole life. Even to this day, fitness is part of my every day.

There’s something to be said for that rush of adrenaline that takes over when you step on that stage; at that moment, your body is your tool, communicating everything you feel through movement. However, what we don’t always associate with dance is the indoctrination into the world of regimented discipline and push for perfectionism. There is surprisingly a stark difference between what an audience sees and what a dancer goes through. When people think of a dancer, they most often think of someone very petite that can move their body to create clean lines and balance for days.  However, those behind-the-scenes elements really can test a dancer’s passion and resilience.

I went through critical phases of body shaming throughout my dance career. It wasn’t always an easy journey. As a dancer, you struggle with your body; if you don’t, lucky you! Dance features your body through movement so there’s nowhere to hide, so inevitability, you feel exposed; I always felt pressured to weigh a certain number and look a certain way. Most companies require regular weigh-ins or measurements, so the pressure is on. That pressure, whether internalized or not can mess with your head. My dance career was hard, don’t get me wrong I loved it but I definitely had times and thought I was done with it but I will say it did allow me to become aware of my body, mind and how my thoughts transpired to my whole being. The best performances are the ones where the music and the dancer connect, they become one and the dancer is able to tell a story through that movement. There is harmony between the mind and body. An outcome alluding to the inevitable connection between our mind and body and the impact both have when combined. It’s a beautiful thing!

When I retired from my dance career, I became more aware and conscious of how I think about myself, I started to check in regularly to be sure I wasn’t unnecessarily hard on myself. The mind and body connection is continuous work; it’s not easy a lot of times but it’s necessary. When you really think about it, we thrive when we feel complete. We are complete when we are connected. But being complete isn’t necessarily about what we have but how we connect with what we have. In other words, how present we are in a moment and the associations we can establish.

To be clear, I didn’t retire from dance because I stopped enjoying it, not even close; a passion that strong doesn’t just go away. It was a thought-out choice; I had a plan to retire while I still loved the art of dance, remained healthy and without injury, and knew I would be able to begin a new life and brand-new career with time to grow into that career.

I had been away from home since the age of ten years old, doing what I loved, dancing professionally and traveling the world. Being at a stage in life where we choose to make a drastic change is scary. Regardless, the idea of settling down was exactly what I was looking for in terms of excitement.

Even now, after having retired from a professional dance career I made fitness a part of my future by becoming an Instructor. I was fortunate to quickly find work as a Barre Instructor, but I did not connect with the approach to fitness my previous employer was taking; it just went against my training and values. Fitness is so much more than introducing the latest fad. I dedicated myself for as long as possible until the environment’s stress and the anxiety got too much. I stayed until the idea of going off on my own and starting a business felt like the only way to regain control. I refused to be miserable in the area I loved so much and decided to check in and really listen to myself.  I trained and studied hard to become a Fitness Coach and from there made my way forward to becoming an entrepreneur and new business owner. 

I care about what I do and the reasons behind what I do which is caring and guiding my clients through  their journey; my motto is if you’re going to do it, do it right and with passion.

I feel blessed every day to be able to share my journey and what I’ve learned along the way to hopefully help others who might be struggling, unsure where to start in their journey, or how to deal with certain obstacles. For me, sharing my passion for a healthy lifestyle has meant creating opportunities for people to find the tools they need to succeed within a supportive environment, which is exactly what Barre Fit Warriors is.  

Barre Fit Warriors became my haven; it was something I was building with everyone in mind. It might sound far-fetched, but I really mean everyone. I knew it was essential to care for clients, build relationships and understand their goals and needs. I want to challenge my clients physically but also mentally. You can only have a good workout if you are present—mind, body, and soul. 

As Jeffrey Rediger said, “The link between our minds and bodies holds a well of potential when it came to radical healing — even mainstream medicine accepts that our stress levels and thought patterns, for example, can impact our physical health.” So, think of what you put in your body; your thoughts count! Ask yourself how you can establish and maintain that mind and body relationship that works for you and helps you progress in your fitness journey. Trust me, it’ll even have positive rippling effects in other aspects of your life. 

Fitness has always been how I made a living for myself, and I feel lucky that I can live my passion. I am also aware of the challenges associated with fitness and the constant work we all go through to feel good about ourselves. With Barre Fit Warriors, I wanted it to be clear that it wasn’t about a particular look. Barre Fitness is known to develop long lean muscle, to tone and strengthen the entire body, but it’s not about striving for the perfect body; what does that even look like and wouldn’t the reply change, depending on individual preferences? Air brushing doesn’t count!!! In Barre, we strive for the body we need to stay healthy. Not every body type is the same, and we are definitely not moulded the same, so everyone’s fitness journey looks very different, mentally, physically and emotionally. It’s also why some exercises don’t work for some, and we need to modify, which is more than doable and why I get to know all my clients, so they are comfortable to share when something doesn’t feel right, and we always manage to find the suitable alternative for them.

There are never two journeys the same, so the idea is to equip ourselves with the right tools and community to feel supported and commit to what we want.

When we are shaping our own fitness journey or discovering what we already have, we are challenging both our mind and body; we are fine-tuning that connection that needs to happen so we can reap the most benefits from what we do. Fitness and exercising don’t mean much if done without intention; that’s why we talk about a lifestyle. It’s also why we need to connect with what we are doing and feel the spark; it will help us achieve our goals. So, let’s challenge ourselves by pondering the following: if you’ve started a new fitness routine or have been sticking to one, what are the reasons you connected to it? Is it the workout, the coach, how you feel after a class, or the environment? 

Being Healthy is more than doing exercise; it’s about a lifestyle and, more precisely, about a healthy lifestyle with ourselves! That can mean so many different things, which is a good thing as it entails that there is no specific way to go about honoring our mind and body connection or how we translate that connection into a healthy lifestyle. There’s also a good chance that this lifestyle we establish will evolve with us.

Having spent my life in fitness, embodying it through dance and sharing it through coaching, I learned along the way the importance of trusting the process. At the end of the day, know your “why” and then focus on how you’re getting there; your journey to be successful can only be your own, so make sure you’re making decisions that contribute to your development and well-being. The world is a much better place when we are happy and uplifting others as we go.

Don’t wait too long to start setting yourself up for success! 

 

Published by barrefitwarriors

Nicole Grant is the proud owner and Master Trainer of BFW! Nicole was a professional dancer for over 25 years. She graduated from Ryerson University's Bachelor of Arts Degree in Dance/Pedagogy and over the year acquired a number of certifications in many different forms of fitness. To name a few, she is a certified Yoga Instructor in Hatha, Yin, Restorative & Gravity Yoga. Nicole is also a Certified American Barre Technique Master Instructor, and a Piloxing/Piloxing Barre Instructor.

19 thoughts on “Finding that Mind & Body Connection:
What it Means for One’s Fitness Journey

  1. I love this post! I love the last paragraph so much. I’ve never been a slim/super fit person – but currently on my journey to get there so I love this!

  2. I love how you focus on fitness as a journey and take shed light on the real effects of body shaming. I am guilty of that. Thank you for this. I always learn from your work.

  3. Really inspirational message, especially around focusing on health and knowing your “why”! This is really great thank you so much!

  4. I subscribe to this fitness Youtube channel that always mentions -mind body connection- only after reading your post do I really understand it. Thanks a lot!

  5. Love this post!!! I never understood what people meant when they said ‘mind and body connection’ until I started doing yoga and then it all clicked. It’s really nice finding peace and unison within mind/body and so important to find a safe space to help you get there. Thank you so much for sharing!

  6. Honestly, I appreciate the raw emotion and your willingness to be vulnerable in this post. Something must people are afraid to do in personal stories. Others over exaggerate personal successes. This had me inspired to keep with my health journey as I’m constantly working against physical disabilities. Thank you.

  7. Thank you for sharing your story. I am also a fan of Brene Brown and the quote you shared is beautiful. I love her book about shame and vulnerability. I’ve always been self conscious about my body and struggle with anxiety. I got into yoga and I have my 200 hour yoga training which has been a true transformation for me.

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