“Nothing is easy to the unwilling.”
-Thomas Fuller, MD, (1732)
When you enter a space where there is NO resistance–it’s like being in an episode of Star Trek when the Enterprise hits “Warp Drive” and all the normal barriers are left behind. Hold on! This ship and its crew are entering a new frontier and fast!
Outside of TV fiction, what causes real people to align in these rare moments of NO resistance where Warp Drive is possible? As a veteran movement coach of over two decades, there are a few important factors critical to this life-changing story of my “Fish Bowl” corporate clients and how they blew by barriers and obstacles that most would say were impossible in such a short amount of time…profound changes to not only body awareness and “pain reduction” but also mental and spiritual gains, yes, the real stuff.
First, some people “vibrate” together. We all have a certain type of energy that projects across the room. People can “feel” who you are even before you speak and before they get to know you. Sometimes you just see someone in the airport and connect somehow…I have learned to embrace this and be grateful for the gift of noticing…and to be more mindful of how I project my own health healing energy so that it may help others better. If you want to make the world a healthier place–let this resonate with you.
In the worksite setting where many people do know each other including me at times, so much of NOT having resistance is about people not feeling threatened. This is the real story here beyond the “Health Wand” tool that I used to help my group with two of the most common areas of pain complaint–shoulders and spine. They felt comfortable with me no matter what their age, background, or physical ability. This is critically important especially in corporate settings. The best state for learning anything is when people are not in threat. Their bodies and hearts are in a better place to learn, absorb, and move better while relaxed.
Lastly for this example and story–are people open for the READY, GO! Specially, are their hearts open for change? If a person is not ready to change, there is not a damn thing I can do to help them. Real health change is intrinsic and driven from within. NO amount of extrinsic rewards, prizes, T-shirts, health pros, or anything else can compare to what people embrace in their hearts and souls for improving their own health. In the corporate world, we also need leadership that sets the stage for the READY, GO! We must have a strong person willing to lead from the front…by example.
When all of the above comes together in the worksite wellness setting? WARP DRIVE!
“The wish for healing has ever been the half of health.”
-Seneca, Hippolytus (1st c.)
For the last 13 years, I have been doing most of my work in the corporate worksite health setting mostly with billion dollar companies with deep pocket liability risks. With these groups and such resources, it is important to “prevent” injuries and potential legal consequences associated with accidents–and especially those “preventable” from a safety of movement standpoint. The low-hanging fruit for me to help employees clean up is the two most common areas of complaint–shoulders and back pain.
Enter my “Fish Bowl” group. They are called the Fish Bowl because this group works in a high security area due to legal documents handled. Special security clearance is required to enter their general building area, and their particular area is enclosed in glass sort of like a “Fish Bowl.” The supervisor of the Fish Bowl is a strong leader who has worked with me for over a decade. She first came to me as an intern then I watched her get hired, get back in shape after school, meet and marry her husband who was also my corporate client, then have three children and get back in shape after everyone of them while raising her kids in a health culture. I approached Christina with an idea for a “Wand Pilot” for her group where I would show up a few days per week for a few minutes during the morning break to “stretch them out” with the wands. I felt like I could do something with them that no one has done before in a modern worksite setting–something truly beyond the “physical” from all of this learning and mentoring I have been blessed to receive for decades. Without hesitation, she was ready to roll/role.
Why use Health Wands for my pilot group?
I have been working with a very special tool for years now out of the classical PE era called the “Health Wand.” Health Wands were one of THE most popular tools during the “Golden Era of Fitness” from 1885-1920. Wands were part of classical PE’s “Restorative Arts” content area that sought to restore the body to a natural state, improve posture, physically educate people on “how to move” before being overly concerned with just moving more or moving poorly. The “philosophy of movement” was radically different in the Restorative Arts area which is what I am now teaching again some 100 years after it faded. But why?
The wand is amazingly simple. It’s just a stick! While you can now buy nice hickory “wands” for restorative movement for around $30, this was not an option for the group, so I made about a dozen plastic wands out of PVC pipe. The 5′ long 3/4″ diameter pipe was only $2.00/each at the hardware store. Because of the limited space in the office setting, I had to cut them down to only 4′ long to preserve “line of fire” safety space. The fact that the “tool” was only a $2.00 piece of plastic takes a lot of threat right out of the equation! Who cannot afford $2.00 when it comes to shoulder and back pain prevention?!!! The group was playfully amused by this simple and cost effect start to our project. After just a visit or two, one of the ladies had her husband make the group plastic PVC “wands” over the weekend. I came back on the Monday of the second week and they proudly displayed “their own wands.” From a behavioral psychology standpoint as a wellness coach, this was HUGE to see just after two visits! They took personal ownership for THEIR OWN health. It is rare that people take that kind of proactive action this quickly especially for a “group” effort beyond themselves. At this point, I knew I was really onto something with the wands…but was it really about the $2.00 wand tool? No.
What makes the wand work? The same thing that makes the classical Restorative Arts work. The philosophy behind the tools. To the people that are not interested in philosophy of movement and only want to “workout” and grind and pound fitness–there is far more to fitness than fitness. It’s actually NOT about the fitness! And yes, I’m a real fitness person myself, but as a health professional, true health goes beyond physique or even the tools used.
What I saw happen from February through October of 2016 was THE most profound experience of my whole professional career. I witnessed more physical connection, more levels of understanding, more mental stability, and definitely more spiritual growth than with any other group of my 20 plus years in the health and fitness business! And with nothing more than a $2.00 piece of pipe?!!! Yes. Here’s what drives my work and my philosophy–all of which came from my studies as a Historical Kinesiologist. It’s all “old stuff” that is still worth doing.
- First do NO harm.
- Create a non-threatening environment ripe for learning AND moving.
- Always leave the session better than when you arrived.
- Train at 90% perfection.
- Teach people the philosophy behind the movement.
First do NO harm. That alone takes a lot of threat out of the situation. If I know one thing after being one of America’s top worksite health coaches for over a decade it’s that people are in LOTS OF PAIN. The last thing they need is more pain or more suffering. Enough! Before we go hard-we need to go soft. If you want people to play and play well without injury–this is not negotiable at the corporate level of liability.
Non-Threat Movement Environments. Easier to do when you first do NO harm. Beyond this, it’s helpful to have basic neuroscience education on how the brain works and controls body movement. When you know this AND the wonderful healing movements out of classical physical education–you have everything you need to do amazing work.
Leaving Better. The reason for leaving better is that you learn to improve your movement skills. Yes, you actually can learn to “move better” instead of just moving more! This is critical in corporate environments because the LAST thing a company wants is to create an OSHA recordable injury. The concept of “learning movement skills” is radically foreign to most people today but a critical part of the history of PE and fitness.
90% Perfection. But how can this be possible?!!! It’s easy when using first do NO harm and working with people who are not threatened. The next step is to “regress” or make anything easier that is too challenging or unsafe. It’s the “art” of movement education as much as the science. It takes years of practice, education, mentoring, and feeling what is around you to really master the art side of regressions, but as the Fish Bowl proves–it can facilitate Warp Drive for improving the mind, body, and spirit. Keep breaking it down until people can control the movement at around 90%–no matter how simple it needs to be…meet them where they are at and where they can experience success and some joy about their progress too.
Philosophy. Let’s start with the Greek ideal which originates from the word Arete’ which basically translates as “striving for excellence.” It’s about “reaching” for improvement and excellence in everything we do. This is what built Western culture. After decades of fitness and health failures to so many Americans, how in the world can we get people to strive for excellence? Again, let the Fish Bowl teach you. When you set up the right social psychology that facilitates learning and success AND you have the power of the historical restorative methods behind you–anything is possible! In days, I saw people turn onto more health than they had experienced in years! And with only a $2.00 plastic wand! Why? Because it was NOT about the wand or tool–it was about how it was set up and taught…and embraced internally without resistance. We worked as a team. All for one and one for all! NO ONE was left behind.
The Fish Bowl became THE most powerfully positive area in the building. Despite some real industry challenges going on with this particular company which is including lay offs, downsizing, cost cutting, and more–this group became a lightening rod of energy that sent waves of good energy throughout the building and even into the community. They developed a “positive force field” around them to protect them from other negativity. Their mental clarity became razor sharp. They developed an important part of classical PE refereed to as the “mental stability” where they had real presence of mind to navigate difficult times. They reduced pain and even got out of pain completely in some areas. Because their hearts were open and they felt safe with me, it opened up the doors to numerous other health topics while we did out “movement” routines daily. Deep health topics were discussed in just minutes per day–mental health, spiritual health, family health, aging issues, community health and more. They turned onto movement beyond our short stretch breaks and thus some became way more physically active. Some even started going to the gym daily. Others took much of it home to children and spouses…and again all of this through the $2.00 plastic wand! Why? Because it is not about the wand or the fitness tools! It’s about what is behind them which must not be fitness first–but about what ancient Greece knew thousands of years ago…
“Mens sana in corpore sano” Sound Mind-Sound Body
If you want to heal the pain and suffering in corporate America while also increasing the joy of movement and life itself–think classically and consider the important balance of the mind, body, and spirit. When we get out of balance, it always comes back to this. It’s not about the fitness–it’s about learning how to be better people “through the physical” methods, and that my friends, is the real story of the Fish Bowl. I will be forever grateful for this experience and that I was able to share these months with them. They are all beautiful people inside and out. Thanks Fish Bowl. Now move it forward.
Want to “Warp Drive” your worksite group with the classical restorative arts and Health Wands?
Feel free to contact me. My tools are simple and my philosophy is rich. 🙂
Ron Jones, MS
Historical Kinesiologist, Physical Educator, Corporate Health Coach
Health Wand & Restorative Movement Education by Ron Jones:
- Santa Barbara Wand Fundamentals Class (10.29.16)
- Why Do Restorative Movement?
- History of Health Wands