By Alyson Hazlewood
An early Christmas present arrived at New Life recently in the form of some shiny new multi-gym equipment for our Al Fresco gym. With the existing punch bag, some free weights and a few sets of boxing gloves and pads, the gym has been a little under utilised, especially by our female contingent. The installation of the new equipment which provides the means for a full body workout has already changed that, in fact the challenge is now to snag a free slot on the two exercise benches!
Last year has seen several Muay Thai champions take up temporary residence at New Life, including Meely Lo, a British female champion who willingly gave of her expertise with a programme of Muay Thai workouts in the beautiful outdoor surroundings of our gym. Before it could be installed, long term volunteer and fellow Muay Thai expert James and visiting Yoga teacher Rebecca gave the floors and walls a good clean with the pressure wash machine.
Like many people in the busy, modern world, despite knowing the physical and mental benefits of regular exercise, I personally found it incredibly difficult to both begin and maintain a fitness programme. Never a fan of air-conditioned gyms with their mildly intimidating atmosphere, I’ve always found it far preferable to combine exercise with my great love of nature, so our outdoor gym ticks all the boxes for me.
What the “middle path” has to do with our gym and working out
Naturally, meditation, mindfulness and stillness forms the basic toolkit that we utilise at New Life to assist with this practice of coming back to our bodies. However, cultivating the ‘middle path’ means maintaining balance with all things, so the more contemplative practices are complemented by gym workouts, dance, daily yoga and other somatic (body-centred) therapies like TRE.
Research from the World Health Organisation indicates that the rapid growth in technology over the last 20 years has accompanied soaring obesity levels, alarming increases in reported rates of depression, and the over-prescription of anxiety medications. Many of us are worryingly disconnected from our bodies, therefore it seems more important than ever to learn to re-inhabit them. Our bodies contain so much information about our internal mind states if we will only stop to listen with care and compassion. Not seeking to avoid, numb or distract ourselves, but to offer acknowledgement and even acceptance of the ever-changing play of energy and sensation that is being human. At New Life, the cutting-edge gym equipment offers even more opportunity to work on physical strength, health and well-being.
Aly Hazlewood is a Writer, Beauty Editor and Make Up Artist from London, currently exploring new ways of living and being. She blogs at http://www.