This week we sat down with one of Byron's most loved fitness teachers, Lexi. The content is definitely something different to what we have done before but we also reckon it is a pretty worthy topic.
The world is changing dramatically fast. Expectations of who we are, what we do and where we are going are being throttled into the public via the world of social media and as a result, Australia is seeing anxiety and depression numbers increasing. This is causing some of us to have a pretty rough time.
Lexzs classes and good vibes start the day for some of Byrons biggest movers and shakers. Her genuine enthusiasm during class and her open passion for others personal progression is all part of her natural illumination. Alongside her pilates, Lexz shares openly on her blog about the reality of living life with mental illness, creating a honest and personal platform to express the diversity and severity of this issue. Lexz open heartedly delves into the moments that so many find hard to articulate by directly challenging stigma and asking the forever unanswered question, “what the fuck does someone who suffers from mental health look like?”
Growing up in an ultra spiritual home, from a very young age Lexz has been surrounded by the power of natural and spiritual healing practices. Being emotionally and physically aware was something that was taught openly by both her parents teaching and helping her express and explore many different ways to manage her own mental illness. Alongside yoga, meditation and many other practices, it’s in Lexz’s barre class that she has truly crafted her own approach to balance.
How did your Bare Balance get started?
Basically, I started because I felt like there was something missing. I could see this hole, this little piece of the puzzle that needed replacing, so I decided to create it. People are scared, society is scared, we are scared of change, but we all need it. Society is filled with these trends and for some trends become our norm, I just got tired of norm. I got tired of these one principal based movement classes. Your mind engages to yoga, your body engages to strength and everything connects to cardio. I have always worked in the fitness industry and had never come across a class that seemed to mix the power of all aspects together
Lexz’s pilates regime is one that reflects her own aim from exercise- one that taps into the mind and body. Mixing aspects of yoga to engage your mind, incorporating Pilates to create strength & purpose, mixed with cardio & barre to release energy & create opportunity for mindless movement.
What do you find most of your students are seeking when they come to class?
Most commonly the opportunity to get into shape, whatever that may mean for them. I find though on a subconscious level that they are looking for connection amd community. They want to try something different and they are putting themselves out there. I think that is massive, to make the intention to try something new, to create that opportunity for yourself, that little moment, it needs to be acknowledged. Everyone wants to be apart of something, they want to feel like they are doing a good job. We all want to have fun so I try to bring those intentions to all my classes. After the girls have been coming for awhile they get addicted to mental & physical feeling of accomplishment, I see it in all of their faces, that feeling of power, that acknowledgment of inner purpose.
Why do you think that experience is important for a woman?
Basically, throughout my six year struggle with mental illness, I realized that the only way for me to turn off the internal dialog, the only way for me to disconnect from my destructive thoughts and to release these painful emotions was to move; to let everything feel free. It’s important to let your body move freely and to challenge yourself, it’s important because it is empowering and freeing. A lot of women suffer from this internal dialogue. They bring up emotions they hold physically in their bodies. When you move that energy moves and you release all that tension in a fun and engaging way. To take 45 minutes for themselves, it just makes me proud and shows that they are committing to themselves. They are here in the moment and slowly it becomes an experience their mind begins to crave.
We are sold the idea that we are supposed to be happy all the time. Do you think society is forcing us to be happy based on things that don’t really hold enough substance?
People are not happy all the time, no one is, we never have been and never will be. The media, Instagram, Facebook, whatever it may be, each portrays this but we all know deep down that is not normality, there is a scary numbness to sanity. It’s okay to be unhappy, it’s okay to feel sad, to feel frustrated, to feel not good enough, hell its okay to be mentally crazy, I was for six years, you just need to remember to feel these emotions, to not compare your real emotions with the fallacy of the outside world. We are in a society that is constantly creating opportunities for us to engage with others, all the time. We no longer have to sit with ourselves. The second we feel sad, the second we are angry or overwhelmed we have instant distractions to sooth that feeling. Distraction is our new form of suppression and suppression is the number one trigger to mental illness.
Some people may look at you and your life and think to themselves, how does this chick suffer from mental illness?
That is why I wanted to speak about, I didn’t have the courage or strength to talk about it when I was going through it because no one took me seriously, I mean no one. They kept telling me “it was just a stage” so I convinced myself that that's all that it was but a stage means there is an ending. I waited for the ending and it never came and I associated that with failure. It sounds like nonsense now but that was my reality then. Since I launched my blog and have been talking about everything openly I have had an overwhelming response from both boys and girls. I have girls that have read my blog and travelled down to Byron just to do my class. I feel grateful to be able to connect physically through my practice and emotionally through my words. It creates an opportunity to connect without the overwhelming feeling of talking to someone about your emotions. I enjoy speaking about it all now and being open because for awhile no one knew. When you are going through this, when you are hurting the easiest thing is to pretend you are happy and for awhile that will work. You get to a point where you can’t pretend anymore because you will forget what that even feels like and you can't pretend something you don't know. Trust me I have been there. So I hope for others when it comes to that, well, actually hopefully before they even get there, I hope they just know it's okay to speak up, that they know they are not alone because we all go through this, we are all in one way or another beautifully fucking crazy.
Photo credit: Dean Raphael