Updated: Oct 22, 2020
Evan's Side of the Story
By Evan Lawrence
I spend much of my time asking questions (in this blog title even), and attempt to evoke change, new thoughts, new ideas, etc. from the people I work with. But I also consistently do the same thing for myself. Daily DeFusion, for me, is the answer for several of those questions.
How do we do it all?
The first question is one that I believe many people have wondered at one time or another: “How do I fit it all in?” I often think this in response to suggestions or advice, particularly about habits we are expected to form. Every time it is proposed that I add another daily task in the name of health, there is a small, yet consistent, “But when?!” echoing from the back.
Think about all the different things we are told to do daily or weekly. Go to work, work out, get good sleep, meditate, socialize, meal prep, eat healthy, and more and more and more! The list goes on. How are we supposed to do this all of this in a day? A week!? We’ll put a pin in this and come back later.
With just one tool..
One day, when walking into teaching a group fitness class, the second question crossed my mind: “How do I make a really great, versatile, and effective class with just people’s bodies?”
This class mostly utilized bodyweight. I had been teaching it for some time and was trying to add some variety. The problem is that working with only body weight has some general limitations. However, the body is an incredible machine- and with a creative mind, some willpower, and enough time, there are endless possibilities..With this in mind, I began adding elements from other modalities I was familiar with, including yoga and mindfulness.
I used some of this knowledge, got creative with the format, and eventually piloted the first class.
It was a small, late afternoon class, so I was able to speak with each participant directly, and gently prod for feedback (like I said- I spend a lot of time asking questions!). What was particularly salient was how many expressed that the class shifted their mood and state of mind. One participant noted it helped her reset near the end of the workday, and that I should call the class “Afternoon Reset”. I told her that was a much better idea than the original title, “Afternoon Delight” which was quickly scratched after remembering its more infamous implication.
The goal not the byproduct
The last question that led to the creation of Daily DeFusion was one that I had been trying to answer for some time: “What would a class look like where mental health was the GOAL and not a BYPRODUCT?”
I had previously attempted to answer this question with a different class which was more of a type of fusion therapy and not a fitness class for general consumption. It didn’t pick up, and felt like a rousing failure. However, a failure is only a failure if you let yourself label it as such which made this endeavor an emphatic educational success (alliteration accomplished!). I took that knowledge from all of those places and kept thinking.
Channeling my inner Mary Shelley, I began creating my own mind/body Frankenstein's monster- taking the best parts of these answers to my pestering questions and amalgamating them into one program.
The programming puzzle
Gathering the pieces was one thing but building it was another. I wanted the class to accomplish several things at once- always an easy task right? I wanted the class to be simultaneously beneficial for mind and body. I made sure to include enough movement to meet the ACSM Physical Activity Guidelines. Having used and taught interval training, I decided to include HIIT (high intensity interval training), an evidence-based exercise modality which uses multiple bursts of higher intensity movement at shorter intervals to improve people's fitness in a shorter amount of time. Luckily for me, this has also been shown to improve people’s mental health and reduce stress. Yes! Two birds!
But interval training isn’t always what the doctor ordered. Yoga and other forms of more mindful movement have also been shown to be effective in improving mental health and managing stress. As a registered yoga teacher (RYT-200), I knew that incorporating yoga would be an excellent way to use participants' bodies and minds, but in a different way. By using less intensity and slower, more mindful movement we are able to connect with our bodies and breath better (get used to the alliteration- this is forever). This serves a different purpose than HIIT but is still an answer in my original line of questioning.
Finally, I knew I wanted to incorporate mindfulness, the process of being acutely aware of your experience, which has a robust evidence base for mental benefits. Having personal experience both doing and teaching this, as well as understanding how movement can influence our nervous system, I felt that this would best be incorporated at the end after the grueling work has been done. Many people have difficulty sitting still for meditations (*cough cough* ME *cough cough*), and it can be easier in this post- energy expenditure state, making this process more accessible to people.
Now, I had the pieces, I knew how I wanted to start putting them together, but there was still one more step in making it whole. I wanted to make sure there was enough variety to keep class stimulating, but also enough structure where people knew what to expect from the start of class. I wanted to make sure there was flexibility so people could choose a class based on their needs for each day.
Great job Evan- another impossible task?! Cue the “womp womp” trombone now.
This is where the Core Four was born. By creating 4 different classes, each with a different emphasis, I could fulfill both the variety AND the flexibility components that I was seeking from these classes.By creating several classes under one umbrella, people can delve deeper into one specific modality, while also getting the benefits of the others!
Don’t do it alone
If there is one lesson I have learned from all the different projects I have taken on, it is that you can’t do everything by yourself. After COVID hit,I started thinking about how a class like this would be really beneficial for people, and I decided to take this from concept to company. But there was no way I could do this alone. Enter... MADDIE! I will let Maddie tell her own story and pick it up from here in our NEXT EPISODE!!! Whoops, I mean blog post. But basically what you need to know is that I asked her to join me and she made my idea nine million times better (hey there, Maddie here, doing the final editing on Evan’s post 😉).
Okay, Evan again. Long story short, it’s been a long time coming, and I am very excited to share this project with you. Do you have any questions, suggestions, ideas? Let me know in the comments. I have a lot more dad jokes that I couldn’t fit in this short origin story, and I’d love to dive in more.