By Kevin Bowen
I find that the New Year is a great time for reflection, introspection and inspiration, especially for those of us involved in the health and wellness profession. As we coach, motivate, encourage, listen, praise, correct, advise, inform and educate our clients, we too should nurture ourselves. We can do something good for our bodies, such as a weekly massage; we can do something good for our minds, such as reading a book or learning a new language; or we can take the advice of that old saying: “It is better to give than to receive.”
In North America, and throughout the world, there are plenty of people in need of the services and knowledge that we in the Pilates community have to offer. It probably comes as no surprise that the state of health and wellness is hovering somewhere above horrible and unacceptable—the obesity epidemic and physical inactivity crisis has grabbed a stranglehold on the citizens of not just the U.S., but the world. In the U.S., two-thirds of adults are classified as overweight, and about half of them fall into the obese category, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The percentage of children who are overweight and obese has almost doubled in the last 40 years.
The problem is real, and according to the most recent statistics, there seems to be no end in sight. How we address the problem as professionals, and more importantly concerned citizens, can help to create solutions.
Making a Difference
There are many ways for us as professionals to give back to others. Our roles as examples of and advocates for the importance of health and fitness doesn’t have to stop when we walk out the studio, gym, or office door. As a professional, take the time to keep abreast of what’s happening on the health front around your own community, country and throughout of the world. The health sections of major news outlets like The New York Times, Washington Post, the BBC, Reuters and CNN all have comprehensive health sections that can help keep you informed.
Think of the issues as gentle reminders of what we don’t want, and then focus on how you as one individual can make a difference. Here are some ideas:
1. Talk to your clients about health and wellness issues, and arrange a free seminar for friends of your clients.
2. Offer to speak or volunteer your services at community health centers and fairs.
3. Offer to teach a free mind-body seminar at businesses in your area.
4. If you are politically motivated in this election year and have a favorite candidate you want to volunteer for, stress your feelings on the importance of health and wellness for the population at large.
5. Volunteer to begin a pilot program for Pilates in the Schools in your area. It’s a 1-hour weekly commitment for 10 weeks. (Contact Jessica Groper [firstname.lastname@example.org] at the Pilates Method Alliance for more information.)
6. Mentor a child by becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister.
7. Volunteer at your local senior center to teach a simple movement class.
8. Hold a fundraising event at your studio for a cause you feel strongly about.
9. If you train Pilates instructors, sponsor a full or partial scholarship for a student who can’t afford tuition.
Making the Commitment
It’s can easy to put off volunteering our time with our hectic schedules, but even one hour a week can really make a difference. One way to help yourself follow through is by telling others of the issues and what you plan to do to make a difference. Hopefully others will hear and listen and even participate by doing something as simple as asking, “So how is your project going? Tell me about what you’ve done so far?” Or better yet, “Is there anything I can do to help?”
You can start by sharing your ideas here. Whether you’re currently advocating for health and wellness or you have a plan to, leave a comment for the community.