FOR OVER 20 YEARS, MY PRIMARY MISSION HAS BEEN TO SEAMLESS MERGE HEALTH CARE AND FITNESS IN A SINGLE ENVIRONMENT. WITH THE CREATION OF BALANCE FITNESS, TORONTO, WE HAVE MANAGED TO DO JUST THAT. BALANCE: WHERE FITNESS MEETS WELLNESS.
About Devon McGregor
I started playing sports at an early age. I fell in love with football as a 72 pound 7 year old, who had an unbridled enthusiasm for running fast and jumping high. I didn't realize back then that I was just too small to be on the football field. I took great joy in showing coaches, teammates and onlookers what I could do with my body. But, it was more than that for me. If it could be kicked, thrown, propelled, involved a net, could be swung, put into motion, accelerated vertically, horizontally or latterally, I wanted to do it. I enjoyed discovering what else my body could do. I found that the more I that challenged my body - the more I asked "what else can I make this thing do" - the faster it adapted. And, I had an unrestrained hunger to understand how others with greater movement skill than me could do what they did. I learned through deliberate and fearless practice, failures, analysis and corrections how to improve at anything, and was privately overjoyed when I was able to understand how a particular movement thing was done. For me, these discoveries were fun. People started putting the label of "NATURAL ATHLETE" on me. However, the only thing that came naturally to me was curiosity. I needed to know: "WHAT HAPPENS IF I DO THIS...?"
I was fortunate as a high schooler when a teacher introduced us to OLYMPIC LIFTING. He was an Olympian and a Strength Coach who thought it would be interesting to teach some of us students how to properly move an Olympic Bar, using methods such as Deadlifts, Squats, Snatches, Power Cleans, and Jerks. It should have been evident to me then, as it probably was to everyone else, that I was born to teach movement. I was obsessed with learning the techniques, excelled at it and volunteered to be a "CERTIFIED" supervisor of our training room.
Fellow students and teammates often sought my advice, sometimes asking: "How do you make your muscles do that?", or "How do you do that without losing your balance?" It makes sense, I suppose, that the boutique gym that I've co-founded would be called BALANCE FITNESS. At the time, I found that all of this translated to the field and hard-courts.
I've never been enamoured by any single movement modality and cringe whenever anyone refers to themselves as a runner, Yoga practitioner, Pilates instructor or anything so specific. To me, the moment we give anything a title becomes the very moment that thing begins to lose meaning. We should be careful how/what we label ourselves. However, I'm also thankful to the experts and specialists, for it's through their hard work that I grow as a GENERALIST or REDUCTIONIST.
THE REDUCTIONIST and the GENERALIST
I think that it's easy to add, but not so easy to edit ourselves. As a reductionist, I strip movement down to only the things that matter. Only then do we begin to build, if necessary. In doing so, we find the limits to our strength, mobility etc., and play there for a bit. To discover.
My personal growth path is a constant process of LEARNING, PRACTICING, ADAPTATION, GROWTH, CONSOLIDATION - then starting again.
I was once told: "You don’t go into the brothel to play the piano". I guess that what this means to me is you only go into a room to do what you came to do. Babysitting feelings and emotions is what I see being taught and practiced in most fitness environments. Getting better - both teacher and student - should be the only practice. TO EXERCISE is defined as “TO DEVELOP A FACULTY OR A SKILL”, not to count sets and reps. Think of that the next time you go to the gym.
To me, beauty can't be compartmentalized... If it looks good, it must function in the same way. If it feels good, it must also move similarly. This idea can't be compromised.
I start by asking myself: "How do I help this person to be as beautiful as he/she can be - within the realm of my own capabilities?" I start by looking at how they move. I make an assessment or judgement on their movement-ability. I then begin to look at what it is about their movement patterns that don't belong, or are obstacles to their success. It is important to me that we, firstly, eliminate those obstacles.