Mentors, Teachers and Crushes, Part I

om ajnana-timirandhasya jnananjana-salakaya
caksur unmilitam yena tasmai sri-gurave namah

I offer my respects unto my spiritual master, who has opened my eyes, which were blinded by the darkness of ignorance, with the torchlight of knowledge.

Where did you get that exercise from, Jen?  Did you make it up?

How do you know all this?

I get these question from my clients quite a bit.  Sometimes, I do make movements up, though I’m sure someone else thought of it long before I did.  Other times, I can point to where the exercise came from.  Usually, it came from or was inspired by one of mentors or someone whose work I admire.  Who are these people?

I’ll tell you a bit about the people who have profoundly influenced me in creating Spitfire Fitness Arts in this series of posts called Mentors, Teachers and Crushes.

  • Mentors– People that I trained under for many years and shaped who I am.
  • Teachers– Those I have studied, worked and/or shared knowledge with.
  • Crushes– I never met them, but their work heavily influenced or inspired my own work.
Part I- Mentors

Mead Andrews: Through her teachings in Alexander Technique, Mead Andrews gave me a strong foundation for understanding posture and alignment.  She also taught me to stay open, relaxed and observant through improvisational theatre.  The idea of listening to the body initiated with my time with Mead.

Kristin Horton: Along with Mead, Kristin Horton was the fearless leader of the Full Contact Improvisational Company of which I was a member.  She taught me so much about emotion and how it lives in the body.  She inspired me to take risks and embrace intensity.

Naoko Maeshiba: I worked with Naoko Maeshiba for 7 years.  Her influence on me is deep, which makes it nearly impossible to express in words.  To express what she has given me, I will use Naoko’s words from her website, “…a new form of perception.”  I perceive the Human Being, its relationship to Nature and its Self differently.  I know that compartmentalizing the Human Being into “mind,” “body,” and “spirit” is not helpful. Neither is the believe that humans are separate from Nature.  This is the greatest influence on the movement teacher I am, but it is the least tangible.

Dale Buchanan: Dale Buchanan was Head Trainer when I was a Personal Trainer at Results the Gym.  He helped me realize that I actually knew a lot about the human body, how it moves and how to help it function better.  That gave me confidence.  He also taught me a basic foundation for building fitness programs for anyone.  That structure continues to guide me today.

Chuck and Suzie Jeffreys: Chuck and Suzie are family to me.  The first time I met them at the Combattitude Fighting Fitness Academy I felt like I had come home.  They have taught me that the keys to human potential are observation, freedom of choice, adaptation and, of course, training.  I have also learned from them that sometimes we learn something quickly but our need to understand something intellectually hinders us for seeing that we already do understand.

Gopi Kinnicutt– I have studied yoga off-and-on since I was 17, but I never got serious about it until I decided to participate in a 30-day yoga challenge fundraiser in 2010.  The biggest reason I didn’t dive into yoga was that I never really felt like I found my teacher.  During that 30-day challenge, I took a class from Gopi.  I knew I had found my yoga teacher.  I feel my studies with Gopi will tie together what I have learned from the theatre, dance, personal training and martials arts.  I am currently taking her yoga teacher training.


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