Colin Kirts - Director

BA in Religious Studies, Columbia University
Practitioner of The Feldenkrais Method
NASM CPT and Corrective Exercise Specialist
Crossfit Level-1 Instructor

Personal Training Style:
The One I Feed coaching serves as a holistic approach to self-discovery, primarily integrating fitness, The Feldenkrais Method and nutrition.

Leisure time activity: Tending to the most important pillar in my life:  family

Quote: "There's always a choice, and every choice matters."

Colin's website: click here

Healthy Perspective by Colin Kirts:  "Choice"...From a distance, I could see two men walking towards Sakali Gunga. Although they were blurry, the image was clear enough, to mark their purpose; they were carrying a fallen tree, most likely to be used for firewood in the village.  With excitement, I ran out to greet the two familiar men. Naively, I assumed I'd be of great service, helping to carry such a heavy load.  As I neared, I could hear the two men conversing. For the entire time I'd been watching them, only one carried the tree; this clearly did not limit his ability to talk.  Once they saw me, the two men stopped. I hastily exchanged the customary dialogue, and promptly offered to bring the tree the rest of the way. Thinking nothing of it, the two men allowed me to help.

Perhaps you've assumed where this story goes. Regardless, allow me to make a few points clear. These men were, in a physical sense, smaller than me; my muscles looked bigger. They did not, furthermore, possess conventional healthy habits. "Exercise" was a largely foreign concept to the people of Sakali Gunga. In retrospect, though, this detail was proven irrelevant not more than a week earlier. I recall, in preparation for a four mile walk to and from the Niger River, in the desert, packing my bag full of drinking water and supposedly appropriate supplies. The people coming with me brought their cigarettes.

After showing me briefly how to best carry the log, the two men continued their walk back to the village. Bracing my back under it's weight, I attempted to stand up, and move forward. Neither happened. The log returned to it's previous shoulder, and floated to it's destination.

In her book "The Continuum Concept", Jean Liedloff describes a very similar experience with the Tauripan Indians in Venezuela. While taking part in a diamond hunting excursion, Liedloff recalls a particular day when she and her European companions needed to move their apparently large canoe from one body of water to another. The trek required them to repeat a hike across an unfortunately steep section of rather sharp rock.   In preparing for the task, she describes a unique sense of dread. She and her fellow travelers did not want to do what obviously needed to be done; in her words, they did not wish to suffer.  In order to complete the journey, a group of Tauripan Indians agreed to help. They too understood what needed to be done.

 Liedloff goes into great detail to describe the various ways by which both groups of people, performing the same activity, undeniably struggled. Taking a much needed break during the process, Liedloff observes a shocking distinction, and her portrayal is anything but subtle. In short, the Tauripan Indians were, to her uniquely-cultured eye, enjoying themselves. Based on what she writes, it is difficult to misinterpret what she saw; even while being occasionally trapped under the weight of the canoe, pinned against sharp, hot rock, the Tauripan helpers would laugh. Her fellow diamond hunters, not surprisingly, vocalized their begrudging attitude in all the predictable and opposed manners.

Liedloff's time in the jungle--from which I have only described one anecdote--is obviously different from what I witnessed in Niger. Nevertheless, we can acknowledge certain parallels, perhaps only, at least for now, to find ourselves in the helpful company of a few questions.

In both situations, the people involved present a distinct relationship with doing, or, as Liedloff writes, with "work". Both the two villagers in Niger and the Tauripan Indians seemed to relate to the task with a sense of ease. Those men must have carried the tree for the better part of a mile; by the time I saw them, it did not seem as if they were tired. I, on the other hand, found it hard to even balance the weight on my back.   Liedloff goes on to describe similar situations, all in the same chop wood, carry water vein. The "work", as far as she can tell, is anything but unwelcome; to experience life without it, would prove, seemingly, irrelevant. Liedloff allows herself to open up to this mentality, but it takes time, effort, practice. Time and time again, she catches herself re-creating a mindset which, quite simply, supported her idea that to work is to suffer. Time and time again, though, she witnesses examples to the contrary; in her own unique case, she eventually arrives at a curious conclusion.

There is a saying to which we are familiar, "mind over matter". Are we to conclude that carrying heavy objects, that supposed feats of strength simply require willpower? Perhaps. Conclusions are unnecessary at this point, though, and as intriguing as Liedloff's thesis is, this is a knowingly inadequate presentation of it. We can accept, however, a certain possibilty. What if, in a subtle way, we can relate to our work, to the innevitable presence of doing, without a hint of suffering? What if we have a choice in terms of how we experience the task, the challenge? If so, are we able to shift, as Liedloff did, our mindset, our attitude? Can we choose a different? Could we experience a life without suffering, as we conventionally see it?

However you choose to be with the questions, know that on some level, your experience is your's to choose... be continued.


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