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Mindfulness and Fitness Combined at Canyon Ranch

20 May 2014

Allison and Rachel are on their third annual leadership retreat at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, MA, and found a new mindfulness practice to add to their repertoire called ZEN•GA™.

Tags: allison read, balance, canyon ranch, leadership, mindfulness

This week Rachel and I are spending four days thinking big thoughts about the future of Allison Partners, relaxing, having fun, and just generally enjoying being together without a single interruption. We spend a lot of time facilitating strategic articulation and leadership retreats for our clients so it’s important to us to make sure we do what we recommend or as it says on the wall in our office, “We will have shoes.” (Sometimes it’s hard to practice what you preach. Like the cobbler who sells shoes to everyone in town but whose kids run barefoot, every now and then it can be easy to shift our attention to what others should do and overlook our own stuff.)

When we first visited in 2012, we were lucky enough to meet the Canyon Ranch founder, Mel Zuckerman, and I blogged about his book, Mel's Tips for Healthy Living, as soon as we got back to Charlottesville. Mel’s a self-described late bloomer when it comes to healthy living, but read my post and you’ll learn that it’s absolutely never ever too late to make whatever changes are important to you and his book is full of simple practices to help you get started.

As we started picking our fitness classes for the week, I was especially excited to find ZEN•GA™ in the schedule of activities. The description, “Blends breath, fluid movement, and the meditative and healing properties of dance, stretch, and pilates with the newest research findings about how to train the body's connective tissue, the 'fascia,’” was right up my alley.

I couldn’t have been happier with this morning's experience and it was especially fun to find out afterwards that it was the first time our instructor, Pat, had taught the class. (She did a super job!) We had a wide variety of exercise abilities, ages, and sizes in the class and everyone I talked to seemed to find something to appreciate. They reported feeling like they’d loosened up their bodies, relieved aches and pains, elevated their heart rates slightly, strengthened their muscles, and felt more relaxed and at ease than they had in long time. We stretched out our feet with small yoga balls, used bands to stretch and strengthen different muscles, and went through a variety of breathing techniques while flowing into some of my favorite yoga moves (star, dancer, and tree).

I did a bit of research when I got back to my room and learned that ZEN•GA™ was created by the Merrithew Health & Fitness™ team who are best known for STOTT PILATES®. I found this explanation to be helpful, “ZEN represents the search for inner discovery, while YOGA symbolizes a pathway to reach it. Together they form ZEN•GA, which is based on Four Mindful Movement Principles: breath, support, yield and flow.” I learned from the Canyon Ranch instructors that they were certified by PJ O’Clair who is the owner of ClubXcel and of Northeast Pilates.

I plan to ask the instructors which of the many DVDs available online require the least amount of equipment since I think ZEN•GA™ could be especially helpful when I’m on the road and before or after I have a long day of teaching. On those days, I don’t want to have too intense a workout because I’d like to conserve my energy for the classroom. However, I want something to add to my fitness routine to help me get moving, eliminate stiffness, and center my mind. I think ZEN•GA™ is just what I need.

p.s. We always enjoy our review of the Canyon Ranch bookstore and are glad to add these to the Allison Partners bookshelf. Perhaps they’ll even be the topic of a future blog post.


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