My Journey Towards the Integration of a Strong, Healthy Body and a Peaceful Mind
Walking away from financial security to start a new business is not a recipe for peace. I had a secure, high-income position at a geophysical company and a young family to support. Although I had taken many risks in my life – including leaving the Ukraine at the age of 20 with less than $5 in my pocket – this was the biggest and there was no turning back.
I knew I had discovered something that had the power to transform people’s lives, including mine. This discovery turned into a passion that I could not ignore.
I had come across the concept of High Intensity Strength Training and was spending all my free time researching it, starting with articles by Arthur Jones, who pioneered this evidence-based exercise approach. Along with a couple of colleagues, I experimented with his methods over the period of a year. Our training consisted of only one 20- to 25-minute session per week, but we did it with absolute consistency and a full-out intensity of effort. In fact, those short sessions were so intense that they left us huffing and puffing on the floor. Over time, I saw some profound physical changes, especially in one of my colleagues. Gradually, I became convinced that this method of exercise works.
The question then became, why isn’t this exercise method more widely known and practiced? A common reason people give for not exercising is lack of time. This approach takes almost no ‘gym’ time by conventional standards and produces exceptional results.
Further research unearthed various gyms offering high intensity training, and the one that impressed me was Kieser Training, a premium brand that is well-known and trusted in German-speaking areas of Europe. They offer safe, time-efficient and health-focused strength training. After an e-mail exchange with Werner Kieser, the founder of Kieser Training, I decided to check out their facilities in person. From the moment I walked into one of their gyms in Zurich, everything clicked and I knew that I wanted to be part of this groundbreaking project to help people attain physical strength and health. Werner encouraged me and gave his blessing to create my own brand, New Element Training, which is strongly inspired by the Kieser Training model.
Because the NET approach is counter-intuitive to mainstream beliefs about fitness training – that you must sweat for hours every week to attain a strong, fit and pain-free body – the first challenge is to convince people to listen with an open mind.
The same doctors who urge their patients to incorporate exercise into their daily regime hear the phrase “high-intensity” and instantly counsel their patients to back off. This in spite of the fact that some of our therapeutic machines (for the back and neck, for example) have been credited with greatly reducing the need for remedial surgery in areas of the US where they are used. I quickly saw that educating people about the concept was the highest priority, and we have been doing that, one person at a time. However, this approach is too valuable not to be widely known, so the education effort has to be scaled up: hence, this book.
There was another aspect to the NET approach which I had introduced intuitively but not really recognized as something special. One of our clients, Barnet Bain, was in Toronto working on his movie, Milton’s Secret (which many have found life-transforming). He is a strong proponent of living life in the present moment and he mentioned that a major benefit of our approach is how it allows him to de-stress his mind while he strengthens his body. He finds our training method and the design concept – which promotes a quiet, focused workout session – ideal for practicing mindfulness while working out. And so Mindful Strength Training ™ (MST) was born. (Part II of this book, Inner Gym, discusses this in detail).
Since I started to explore the ways of living a more mindful life, I have become more relaxed and less judgmental, about both people and situations. The focus on mindfulness has also changed the way I approach my business decisions, making them less about the bottom line (as numbers-based decisions are often based on fear and short-term outcomes) and more about the needs of the people who have come to rely on our training approach to help them lead healthier lives. It has also influenced decisions about how I select our personal trainers and therapeutic professionals, favouring those who truly have a passion for helping others. This has led to more word-of-mouth referrals and a growing excitement about the outcomes of the NET approach.
At NET, we believe that a combination of three key factors – research-based high intensity strength training, a sensible diet template, and trying to be mindful in everything we do – paves the way for a long, healthy, and truly peaceful life. I welcome you to explore this lifestyle and see for yourself how it can transform your life experience.