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It Has Changed How I Train Forever

sandbag exercise equipment

A question I get all the time, especially as the holidays roll around is, “what’s next for DVRT?” Creating new content, programs, drills, and equipment isn’t really easy to just do. Think about it, most people don’t teach and create for almost 20 years in this business, but it isn’t because we keep coming up with “new stuff”, but we always look for better solutions.

That is why what is coming next is something that really has me excited. As we aim to always evolve DVRT, the most meaningful solutions and evolutions are personal ones. As many of you know (I’ve written about it quite a lot), I have a very aggressive degenerative disease that has caused havoc with my health. This is especially true in the last 10 years where I’ve had to have 7 spinal surgeries in the past 10 years after losing the ability to use my legs, having issues moving my arms, and dealing with incredible nerve pain, migraines and more!

low back pain

These procedures were absolutely necessary, but turned my life upside down. Thanks to what we teach in DVRT I was able to regain most of my function (although I still have significant weakness in my legs and right arm) I still fought chronic pain, fatigue, even my mental health took a very significant hit. Even though my doctors had the best of intentions and I was working out still, things were not improving.

Since I have the wonderful inspiration of family members who went through even worse health challenges and were strong about it, I have always believed in trying to be in charge of my own health as much as possible. So, I went heavy researching for solutions on chronic pain, trauma (these surgeries are nothing small as you can see), and dealing with anxiety/depression. At first it was just a lot of very philosophical readings that were honestly very helpful. I had to start reframing my thoughts, expectations, and situation. But I love movement and always had a very special connection with movement my whole life. Being physical has always been my greatest outlet for not just physical goals, but dealing with emotional issues as well.

That is why I was really intrigued when I came across a book on tai chi. No! Wait! I know what you are thinking, you have no interest in learning martial arts, you think it will be too complicated, you may think it is only for older people. I get it, I had ALL those same preconceptions as well. I get it! However, hopefully unlike me you don’t have to become as desperate for solutions and can learn from my experience why NONE of this is really the case.

I’m not going to tell you to start taking up tai chi (although it wouldn’t be a bad thing if you did), I want to share with you what I learned and how it can help with you achieving your fitness goals. Why was tai chi something I came across in the first place? As the doctors that wrote this book discuss, there are so many benefits of the practice from moving meditation, reductions in anxiety/depression, better balance/stability, and greater mobility/core strength. All things that sound pretty good right?

The reality is , unless you are interested in learning tai chi, it is difficult to get all these benefits of the practice because it is an art with many layers to it, both philosophically and physically. That is why as I started working with my teacher, it clicked with me there was something else that maybe could be an answer for A LOT of the issues we see in fitness and society overall, that is qigong.

Qigong simply is Qi means energy and Gong means work or skill. Therefore, qigong means to work with and develop skill with energy. That’s vague I know, but the point is that everything done in qigong is to cultivate and then learn how to use energy to improve our health and movement. This is accomplished through specific breathing actions, postures, movements, and mindfulness. To be honest, I was a skeptic to how much of a benefit I would actually see because my health issues are pretty significant. To my surprise though, the results were almost unreal.

My pain got so under control that I was able to get off intense pain meds that I had been on for almost 10 years, I was progressing faster in my strength training, my overall mobility was greatly improving, and mentally I felt much more in control and not nearly as anxious (even Jessica has mentioned how much of a change she has seen in my moods). Now, this isn’t magic, it takes some time and requires being very intentional, but that is nothing that we don’t ask for in DVRT so it hopefully isn’t new for you to think about.

What I began to think about is that people shouldn’t have to be in my state to want to use and benefit from qigong. If I could see such significant benefits, imagine someone who wanted to perform and feel better but didn’t have the severity of health issues? Not only that, but it makes addressing the needs of so many clients so much more efficient. We know so many people deal with high stress that impacts their health, but also their movement capability. A lot of clients need more mobility, stability, and balance training, wouldn’t it be cool to compliment our functional strength training with training that only enhanced these qualities?

So, it hit me that I wanted to start sharing ideas on HOW! I sat with the idea for awhile because I know culturally there are some challenges in taking qigong to a Western mindset that may not specifically be interested in the practice. What Jessica and I started doing was thinking about how we could take principles and adapt them to a progressive system that could be implemented with any level of fitness trainer or enthusiast. That is where we started forming our breath, movement, health program (BMH).

Now, we are going to talk A LOT more about these ideas in future posts, but I wanted to give you a bit of background of why we went down this path and why we wanted to share it with you. For today though, I wanted to give you 3 example drills you can practice and try yourself. Don’t worry about being perfect, try to relax and breath during the movements. You can go through 3-5 times and try them a few days during the week or every day if you enjoy them. They are a wonderful form of mediation practice and allow you to work on better breathing habits too (this can help your stress levels, focus, and much more). Each movement can be performed 10 times or you can just do them for time. The key is to be as relaxed as possible and mindful of the general movement concepts.

Power Breathing

Waving Tea Cups

Lotus Opening and Closing