When I first looked into the room filled with new fitness equipment, I said ‘oh look, a gym!’ I was immediately corrected. It is NOT a gym. It is the Strength and Rehab Centre (SRC). I went about my business but inside still though of it as a gym. So I finally asked Stuart, ‘Why isn’t the SRC a gym?
He was very forthcoming with lots of words and phrases like intrinsic biomechanics, neuro programming, corrective exercises and rehabilitation. Then my eyes glazed over. But there was one word he used that sung out. Individualised. This is the word that has kept me coming back to akarmalife since the day I walked in the door for an Ashtanga Yoga class three years ago. Not only was my name learned from the first class but so were my aches and pains and issues I had with certain poses. I think this is a common experience for many of the members.
Looking into an SRC membership for myself, I learned that I would pay a monthly fee for use of the centre and that I would also see Stuart for a 1 to 1 PT session every month. Knowing how much attention and individualised care I received in a group setting, I knew PT with Stuart was about to take this to a whole new level. And I was right. I was set exercises for fitness and strength building but we also looked at my chronic headaches and corrective exercises to address that problem. I’ve had trainers before but usually used them weekly for a short period to reach a goal or until I felt fit enough or until the money ran out. And never once did anyone ask me about health niggles like my headaches. I was indeed in a Strength and Rehab Centre.
The set up of the centre is allowing me to see how I’m in this for the long haul. I’m not in as much of a hurry as I have been to get fit in the past because it’s going beyond the superficial concern of what dress size I am. I won’t lie and say this doesn’t matter to me. It does, but so does long term health and fewer headaches.
This isn’t to say the big words that Stuart uses to describe the SRC aren’t important. They are. He’s put an incredible amount of work into what he’s created and his descriptions are an integral part of what we are doing. But I don’t have to concentrate on the scientific element unless I want to. He has that all under control for us. We are in good hands.
Us SRC folks have a little community within a community here. We all seem to universally love the boutique nature of it. There are limited spaces so you won’t find loads of people hovering around equipment ready to pounce the minute someone gets up. We are all respectable to one another and move around to accommodate our fellow members and maintain social distancing.
All of us with SRC memberships are on similar journeys but having very individual experiences.
Julian came out of the SRC today saying he finds the whole process invigorating. He just can’t quite believe how much stronger he is after just a few weeks. I feel the same. I’m shocked at myself. It’s a huge confidence boost to mark that progress and see how far you have come. Knowing I’m coming up on a PT session motivates me to make my targets. I’m learning self-discipline in those weeks between PT sessions instead of relying on a weekly trainer to push me.
A couple of people I talked to have expressed frustration with strength training in the past. James described past experiences as ‘haphazard with no structure’. Even when there was a plan in place it never changed. Both of these factors led to ‘little or no progress’ and eventually to giving up completely. With the program changing every month in a PT session with Stuart, the experience is much different. He is now able to see both immediate progress and how it’s all adding up to a long term strategy for his health and fitness.
One client, after being diagnosed with osteoporosis, began a research project that lasted two years trying to find alternative ways to build bone naturally without medication. The SRC was perfect for her and she is now not as reliant on medication with as she feels, its ‘dubious efficiency and unwelcome side effects'. Her body changing shape and improvements in posture are added and exciting bonuses.
We have a long time runner who came to us after she began to have injuries after never having them before. She had given up completely on the idea of being able to run again. She can now run five miles and has set her sights on a half marathon.
Claire Sookun-Hull, one of the yoga instructors here, has joined the SRC after a long absence from weights. She thought she may never strength train again as she struggled to find someone to help support her training whilst also taking into account a chronic illness she had to consider. She began in the SRC with a beginner’s mindset and is loving it. She says, 'picking up weights genuinely makes me a better, happier person'.
Claire isn’t the only akarmalife team member that uses the SRC to build strength and work through injury or structural issues. Hayley and Natasha are also loving it. This was a pretty big motivating factor for me. I've always limited myself to exercise without really noticing I was doing it. I considered myself a yogi through and through and that any work with weights would somehow negate this. Where I got this idea, I don’t know. The work I put into the SRC only strengthens any of the other classes I choose to do at akarmalife. So instead of seeing the SRC and the classes as opposing regimes, I now see how they work together.
There is real freedom in this for me. It has also given me peace about not abandoning my yoga practice but changing it to fit into what I feel is right for me from week to week. My fitness has evolved just as akarmalife itself has. This evolution has kept things fresh, yes, but more importantly, it means that I no longer view exercise as a punishment but as a gift to myself. Experimenting along the way and not shoving one strict modality down my own throat is life-changing. That may be a long way of saying if you haven’t considered the SRC because you enjoy the classes too much, there is good news. You don’t have to choose.
When you next glance into the SRC and think you are looking at a gym, just remember it’s much more than that. I think of the gym as the ugly duckling and the Strength and Rehab Centre as its fully evolved, grown-up, confident and strong ascendant.
I will look forward to seeing some more of you there as the world opens up. And I promise to not hog the equipment.