It was the last thing I ever wanted to instruct.
I made a proposal to the St. James continuing education department to instruct night classes. With my military and fitness background, I was all pumped to instruct classes in kick-boxing, outdoor survival, winter survival, martial arts, self-defence, navigating and running. On a whim, I added “Stomach Flattening.” I mean, what the heck, every fitness course in town had some kind of stomach exercise routine, machine or gimmick. What’s one more?
Besides as a wiry-thin athletic type, I only had a short stint of sporting a bit of a paunch. So, except for kick-boxing and military training, it was not a huge concern.
Well, the school board liked the Stomach Flattening idea and I was soon scrambling to figure out how to fill a whole hour on abdominal exercises without putting the class in the hospital.
So, I reviewed everything that I had learned over the years and sought out books and people who knew more about the subject than me. It turned out that there was more to a flat stomach than mere cosmetics. One book, Bloody Iron by Michael H. Brown and Harold Jenks, describes how strong abdominal muscles helped if one was in a knife fight. The logic was that the strong abdominal wall would keep the internal organs inside of the rib cage, where the ribs would provide more protection than than belly flab.
The course was a success and I taught it for over seven years. As I did this, I was constantly researching and getting feed back from trainees. Some movements were too hard, some too easy and few people liked hearing that four-lettered word: diet. I drew on martial arts and yoga training and later became a qualified Pilates instructor. The results that people were achieving were not just cosmetic. They were reporting more energy, less lower back and joint pain and more attention from their spouses. Some of the trainees started to take some of my other courses and even become fitness instructors themselves. It was cool seeing people improve their confidence.
The success of the Stomach Flattening course Its success gained me credibility to instruct other courses like women’s kick-boxing and self-defence. Many aspects, like making exercise enjoyable and the importance of posture and form, crossed over to other courses and my instructing in general. Then there were different metabolic types, ages, social aspects and people with different motivations.
What might have conformed into just another aerobics dance class, evolved into a fairly complex system of postures, breathing, sequences and martial arts movements. Of course, the cardio crowd complained as did the non-exercising crowd and the over-weight people who accused me of not knowing what it is really like (to be over-weight) or have a kinesiology or medical degree, so how could I speak with any authority, etc. etc. How dare I!
Yet, it is so cool that something as simple as “Stomach Flattening,” could develop into a complex system that went beyond the usual “Calories in, Calories out,” mentality.
This stomach flattening project, It reminds me of a friend who quit a secure job as an officer in the military to become a carpenter. He is constantly improving his skills and projects, that he puts his heart and soul into.
I feel the same way about this stomach flattening course. It has now led me to writing the book, Flat Gut After 50, which has led me into the world of publishing and promotion.
It all starts with something seemingly simple. When you run with it and ignore the naysayers, you can find a whole new confidence in yourself.