by Dr Danielle Loveless, BBiomedSci, BExSci (Hons), PhD Ex Phys,
Accredited Exercise Physiologist
I have been working from the Universal Medicine clinic in the field of Exercise Physiology for the last 3-4 years. I am fully accredited and registered in the health care system and the majority of my work is in chronic disease and injury rehabilitation and exercise program support. In my time working from the clinic I have also been participating in Universal Medicine courses and workshops and embracing my own esoteric healing. Through the inspiration of Serge Benhayon I have begun to discover a way to exercise and work with my clients that is more supportive, nurturing and honouring for our bodies. This way has been developed from within myself, chosen by me, not taught or instructed by another, but completely inspired by a more gentle and loving way of living that I have begun to discover through Universal Medicine.
Working in the health and fitness industry in gyms, sports centres and at the local hospital’s rehabilitation department, I often see people go hard at it and ‘smash’ themselves in their exercise training. This way of training is encouraged by many fitness trainers, but appears much more harmful than beneficial to their body. I will often see a lot of injuries, people experiencing niggling pain in their back, hips, knees or shoulders and lacking the energy and motivation to continue with a program. Exercising at high intensities in any activity or sport, including any competitive sport that pushes the body to near maximum, puts a huge force through the body. Maybe the body can handle exercising at such an intensity now, but what about the physiological load that is placed on the body and the long-term damage? Did you know that running results in up to 5 times the body weight of the runner through their lower back, hips, knees and ankles? For someone who weighs 80kg this is 400kg per foot strike, which for a 1.6km run (approximately 400 steps) is approximately 160,000 kg or almost 180 tons for that one run. Perhaps this explains why when running a marathon, a runner’s height will reduce by approximately 1cm for 24 to 48 hours after the race!
In contrast to this hard pushing exercise, I have discovered that exercise can be done in a gentle way that is connected with the body. This means that the way the body moves in a workout is guided by how the body feels in each exercise and movement. Exercising in such a way regulates the intensity of the workout according to our ability to hold a gentle breathing rhythm, and to not go tense or hard anywhere in the body. The traditional way of exercising is based on sets and repetitions of movements of a particular number or duration. However, when exercising gently, the pace, intensity, duration or number of repetitions completed is determined according to what the body is telling us in that moment. By listening to the body we can feel when we have over-exerted or pushed it too hard and we can feel when to stop.
Exercising gently and connected with our body is very unlike any way I have ever considered exercising could be. It is nothing like what I was taught during 10 years of university in Biomedical and Exercise Science, but instead much more gentle, nurturing and caring towards the body. My surprise is that the benefits are far greater than I could have ever imagined. There are noticeable increases in strength and cardiovascular fitness and, as no excessive or unnecessary strain is placed on the body, there are no niggling pains or aggravations of other conditions or old injuries. Furthermore, I have found that there is a renewed daily vitality, instead of the exhaustion that often comes with exercise. There can be a sense of an increase in energy levels from exercise, but this is false and only occurs due to an immediate increase in adrenaline, which only lasts a short period before sugar, caffeine or some other stimulant is needed to pick the body up again.
What has recently been published by the media and online blogs about Serge Benhayon ‘exerting control over Universal Medicine students by modifying their exercise behaviour, or discouraging exercise altogether’ is completely untrue. My exercise work with the Universal Medicine clinic is supported in full by Serge Benhayon. Serge has inspired not only me, but many others to be more caring and supportive with their bodies such that we choose to exercise in a much more gentle way. I thank Serge deeply for suggesting that there may be another way to be with our body that is much more loving and supportive.
Attached you will find some testimonials from a very broad range of people who have participated in Gentle Exercise Training with me in either private sessions or exercise groups.
Since my first group session with Danielle three weeks ago I have found I’m self motivated to exercise gently every morning around 5am. I have found many benefits including a more truer relationship with me, more energy throughout the day, less tension being held within my body and any tension I may have is easily released while I exercise and connect with my gentle breath. I would recommend group work with Danielle to anyone who wants to truly connect with their bodies and to know more and to live more of who they truly are. Gentle exercise is the bridge to that place within.
Paul Barry, NSW
Danielle’s gentle movement and exercise sessions have been an integral part of my daily ritual for the last 3 years. They have enabled me to re-build my body’s suppleness to a point I never would have expected possible, considering all the accumulated sports and martial arts injuries from my earlier life.
It’s not just the physical aspect that I have found supportive. Danielle presents a new awareness of movement that has helped to re-configure the way I move in general, to ‘be with myself’ as I do the exercises every day. What I particularly enjoy is the subtlety of the exercises, and how I can learn so much with such seemingly simple movements.
With pleasure I can fully recommend Danielle’s group and private sessions and often refer my clients to her.
Chris James – Singer, Musician & Voice Teacher
Exercising gently was something I thought would never suit my liking until I started attending Danielle’s individual sessions and classes. I was amazed just to feel how hard I was being with my body. Danielle has shown us how to connect with our bodies and use our body as a guide through gentle exercise and breathing, feeling where we are holding tension or hardness and releasing any tightness around the body through stretching. I was amazed at how much better I felt after just a few sessions and now have a greater understanding of how my body is feeling. With Danielle’s love and support i can highly recommend a visit, you won’t be disappointed.
Kim, NSW, Australia
Danielle’s classes completely changed the way I approach exercise, she brings a love and dedication that is truly inspiring. I recommend her classes to anyone who wants to make exercise about connecting to your body and letting your body be the guide, rather than pushing your body into an unnatural rhythm.
RB, NSW, Australia
I attended Danielle’s gentle exercise workshop in November. The workshop was fun and playful and I learnt a lot about my body. Since then, I have been enjoying a playful loving relationship with my body. Exercise is no longer a stress, a strain or a chore, but a loving exploration of my body and how it moves and where it needs to strengthen, stretch and release. Stretching is no longer painful, but a gentle release of tension in my body, as I breathe. Being with myself as I exercise gently has brought me greater levels of energy, so that I am no longer tired at the end of my work day. I have a greater awareness of my body, so that I no longer hold so much tension and hardness in it. I can wholeheartedly recommend working with Danielle.
Dr Anne Malatt, Bangalow, Australia
I used to love exercise, team sports, running long distances, marathons, all the high intensity classes at the gym. I had great fitness levels, I was in great shape, but I felt so despondent and tired. I cut back till I did very little. I had a one to one session with Danielle a couple of years after this and, very patiently, Danielle supported me as I found my way to exercise so that I worked hard but did not overwhelm my body. I could see that my body had been trying to get me to slow down or at least listen all those years, so to rebuild my routine in a supportive way has taken a little time and is an ongoing process. My body feels like it has been asleep for lifetimes and feeling it come alive is inspirational.
Lucy, NSW, Australia
I recently attended a 6 week course in Body Awareness & Quality in Daily Movement & Exercise Group in Grafton. This has been a wonderful experience for me in terms of re-connecting to how amazing & important it is to have a regular exercise routine. Prior to doing this course I did no regular exercise. I work in nursing, so I have a job that is quite physical. I thought that was enough. I thought because I walk up & down stairs numerous times during the day that that would suffice. I was however feeling all sorts of muscular aches and pains as well as joints that crack. Deep down what I really knew my body was telling me was that I need to move and exercise. I was never taken with the ideas of gyms and other types of classes. I really did want something that would suit me.
Danielle’s classes for me was such a perfect place to begin. We start gently. We are encouraged to feel where our bodies are at when we do different exercises and not to push past any pain but to respect that. Danielle is very aware of individual needs in the group and always makes other recommendations or more gentle variations to any exercise we are doing.
I had so much fun, mostly because my body is thanking me for finally paying attention. But also Danielle genuinely loves her work and delivers her classes in a very joy-full way. How can you not feel inspired?
I continue with a program for me based on the exercises I did with Danielle. I now make time for myself to do this as I know how amazing I feel when I exercise. I feel fitter at work. Really, to work in nursing you need to have a good level of fitness and we are kidding ourselves if we think and do otherwise.
I feel inspired by Danielle and her work, but really it’s been up to me to choose this for me. I’m so glad that I have.
Thank you Danielle.
Jen Smith, Aus
I have spent most of my life largely unaware of my body, dragging it along to anything I wanted to do.
I started to feel weak, stiff wooden and old.
From just one individual session and several classes, I now do the exercises most days. I am much more aware of my body and by listening to it and taking care of it I have more strength, endurance and vitality.
At work welding used to be about what is going on in the weld zone, and everything else was subornate to that. At the expense of my body and so I would fatigue quickly.
Now welding is all about posture and I can focus on the weld zone but still be aware of my whole body; things run smoother, and I am more productive.
If I can do that, what else can I do?
Thank you Danielle, I get a lot more out of life now.
Bernie Cincotta, Aus
202 thoughts on “Exercise for Health and Connection – from an Exercise Physiologist”
I too have found that gentle exercise is the way to go. If I smash myself I feel rough then don’t want to experience that again, so I don’t exercise. If I work out gently then I feel energised and supported, I want to repeat that and I’m more likely to keep an exercise routine going. It’s simple really.
Wow those statistics on the impact that running has on our bodies I have never seen or read before, but it makes complete sense to me, that running would put a huge strain on our bodies and we think we can get away with it when we are younger but then as we get older the impact is felt with problems with joints and muscles. Is it possible we can use sport as a way to numb ourselves, a temporary escape from the constant tension we feel in our bodies?
I related very much with the hard core, exerting and pushing myself to the brink, when I used to exercise in the past. In some respect I was addictive to the adrenaline, the buzz that would be give me the high, you can probably say, I was addictive to a drug.
My body experienced many niggling injuries over the years, but most noticeable were the regular colds, coughs, and ear infections throughout the years. Somewhere along the line, the body stops you, and it certainly did for me. It doesn’t matter what, but I can honestly say, it had communicated so many times that I chosen not to listen to it.
I have not exercised for some years now and returned to the gym not so long ago, and struggled exercising. I could feel the years of abuse I had placed my body under and there was a hesitancy, in the end I stopped attending. No matter what exercise I did, the intention/energy of the past returned, to stay slim or toned or look in a particular way.
I am waiting for my body to signal, its times to return, return to something much more loving for it. Maybe in the future, my body will return to a more gentle form of exercising and in what format, I have no idea, I wait, and will listen for the call.
“completely inspired by a more gentle and loving way of living that I have begun to discover through Universal Medicine.” This is the key for every move we make as well as how we exercise our physical body.
When we talk about exercise, it is often about losing weight, building strength, etc. and seems to imply achieving something, getting somewhere. What you share here presents a very different relationship we can all have with our body, which feels to be more accepting and appreciating – no matter what age, gender, physical ability etc. and that feels very beautiful.
Exercise is an amazing way to become more aware of our body – it’s super easy in the day to get carried away in our thoughts or in what we need to do so to have a dedicated time where you really pay attention to your body and how you move it and how it feels is super beneficial.
We are taught that we have to push the body to the extreme and yet if we stop to feel if the body wants to be pushed it will tell us that it doesn’t. It’s not because we are lazy, as the body does want to exercise but it doesn’t want us to be abusive with our movements.
It makes sense Doug as tissue in our body that is hard, constricted or tight is going to be more susceptible to pain and injury in exercise and daily life. I’m reminded of how naturally gentle children are, they really show adults how we naturally are born to move.
Thanks Linda for your comment, your words “in harmony with my body” stood out because we are usually so goal oriented in exercise the last thing we actually consider is if we are in harmony with body. We can be so focused mentally on making ourselves fit and healthy that we may not realise we are actually fighting our body by not listening to what does or doesn’t work for it in the way we exercise.
Reading your blog again Danielle I can understand why so many people avoid and don’t enjoy exercise, as pushing ourselves and feeling sore and painful afterwards isn’t very enticing! In the current ideals around exercise needing to be intense or forceful we miss out on enjoying the body and how it feels to be connected to ourselves. In most of life we disregard the true communication coming from the body part from the basics, yet we see exercising with intensity and force as “good”, when we may actually still be disregarding the body and it’s messages and what’s truly good for it. It is an inspiring read Danielle.
Melinda, I actually understand it more than ever, ‘avoid and don’t enjoy exercise’, I’m one of of the statistics to this feeling, now. Whilst in the past, I was a gym junkie.
I can only say, it is a form of abuse, this is what I did to my body and you are so spot on, I certainly ‘missed out’ in enjoying my body, but, it is never too late to do so now.
Melinda, I was someone who avoided exercise for most of my life. I have discovered in my 60’s an on line exercise class which actually works. My core strength is amazing and I am very fit for a 65 year old. I use the various videos every day, there is no possibility of getting bored with an exercise routine because they are constantly changing, working on legs, core, arms, cardio etc, so there are a lot of different exercises to chose from. I would highly recommend this type of exercise its great fun and the benefits can be felt within the whole body.
Exercising for health and connection is such a great title and template for living life, I was definitely in the ‘if it doesn’t hurt it’s not working’ camp and then wondered why I never maintained any programme I put myself on. Thank you for sharing these testimonials from such a variety of people who all attest to the all round benefits of listening to the body before, during and after exercise which makes so much sense and no doubt our over stretched health services would appreciate not having to pick up the pieces of all the exercise induced injuries that they currently deal with.
Exercise for me used to very much be about the push and drive. No pain no gain. I was terribly driven to do lots of circuits and would then reward myself with alcohol, food and late nights. It was a heavy cycle to be in. Since understanding that the body is our biggest communicator, I have started to shift how I am with exercise and to develop a relationship with it that supports the body rather than hinders it.
It is very brave to stand up in the face of how exercise is taught today and to present gentleness in movements. but the testimonies that you have here are a clear indication that to gently exercise is actually what the body enjoys most, and I suppose the challenge then is to love oneself enough so as to accept this joy.
This was a great reread this morning thank you, it reminded me that the moment we start pushing through our exercise we have already lost the connection to ourselves, and the importance of bringing ourselves back into the gentleness that we are, and then restarting while fully supporting ourselves in the process.
“Exercising gently and connected with our body is very unlike any way I have ever considered exercising could be. It is nothing like what I was taught during 10 years of university……” Since learning to exercise gently, rather than ‘push through’, my body is very grateful, especially as I get older.
Having spent many years training hard and pushing my body to the limit, I would have laughed if you had told me to exercise gently and in a connected way, as I was so stuck in the exercise mind set of ‘no pain, no gain’, which ended up exhausting me anyway. Having changed my way of exercise now for many years and trying your approach Danielle, I have noticed how this has increased my vitality and energy levels far more than when I trained my body in the hard and fast way.
Anna I have a friend who spent years training hard and pushing her body to the limit to stay fit, healthy and look younger. Now going into their 50’s they wish they hadn’t be quite so hard on themselves because their body is showing them the effects of going to the gym and being in disregard by not listening to their body is having on their well being. They haven’t been able to exercise for a while because of a shoulder injury picked up while exercising. The shoulder became so painful it required Surgery. When we are young we feel invincible, as we age our bodies show us in so many different ways we are not invincible and the disregard we put our bodies through by working out hard at the gym when we were young comes back to haunt us.
Great to re-visit this blog and get some much needed inspiration to start doing some exercises again as the benefits are so huge.
There are many benefits to be gained through gentle exercise, when I used to go all out, I may have been classed as very fit, but I was getting more exhausted through the intensity of the exercise.
“Did you know that running results in up to 5 times the body weight of the runner through their lower back, hips, knees and ankles? For someone who weighs 80kg this is 400kg per foot strike, which for a 1.6km run (approximately 400 steps) is approximately 160,000 kg or almost 180 tons for that one run. Perhaps this explains why when running a marathon, a runner’s height will reduce by approximately 1cm for 24 to 48 hours after the race!” It’s so easy to skip over statistics and not register what is being exposed by them. I almost did that with this paragraph – but then the abusiveness of it hit me. To willingly run so that our body is compacted and reduced by a cm in height and to not expect any repercussions is to me self-abusive and arrogant. But more than this, if we do anything with intensity, whether it be exercise or any other part of life, we are compacting ourselves, creating denseness and tension in our bodies which keeps us firmly in the illusion that we are an individual and can do whatever we want because it only affects us. This is the opposite of the truth – we are part of the whole and therefore the quality with which we express will be what we contribute to the whole. If we move with intensity, we will contribute intensity and just confirm to others that they too are individuals who have to look out for number one without considering how we are affecting others.
Thank you for exposing the arrogance of exercising in any way that focuses on the individual and ignores the wider impact of how we choose to move through life.
There is so much in how we move which is not true or right for our bodies, and yet we push through until our wise bodies say enough and we need to find another away. What Danielle offers here is gold, that we can exercise and be with our bodies so that we are not pummeling them and destroying them and best of all we get to enjoy being in our bodies while we exercise – it’s not a chore.
monicag2 reading your comment I wonder how many people are actually moving in the nervous energy of fight or flight? That something triggered this reaction in our bodies at some point in our life and it was never switched off again. The fight or flight is a reaction the body automatically goes into when it feels it is in danger, once the danger is past the mechanism shuts down and the body goes back to a normal rhythm. But so many of us are living with high levels of stress in life I wonder if we are using this energy to exercise with which is why we cannot tell if we are over exercising?
This is great to read and renews my interest in exercising again, I walk daily but got out of the daily exercise and my body is missing that support.
I have had long periods in my life where I have been pretty gung ho about exercise and the hard physical work that needed to be done I have often done myself rather than seek help from others. Now, since taking so much more care of myself, my body lets me know when I am pushing it to perform and I am much more likely to find someone else to do the hard graft that my older and precious woman’s body is, in truth, saying no to. This blog is reminding me to be even more considerate to myself and not brace myself to complete something myself when if I were to wait just a little bit longer I could get someone else to do the job. I am also reminded that sometimes I can do these heavier things but only if I stay connected to my centre and honour my body as I go, which often means slowing down considerably to make sure I am absolutely present in my body.
The testimonies and the amazing impact that gentle exercise is having on people’s lives is a gorgeous confirmation of bringing in esoteric philosophies to the art of exercise. The way people exercise is sometimes cringe worthy in the way they smash their bodies, and I am still reeling from the fact that a marathon runner’s height may reduce by a centimeter after a race due to the immense physical load they are placing on their body!… an extraordinary and unnecessary disregard in light of what is possible from exercising in care and connection.
I have found the less I push myself like I used too, the more my body likes to exercise because it does so in its own natural way, as soon as I go into the pushing I can feel the resistance in my body.
Our human bodies love to be loved and treated gently – which is the opposite to how it gets pulled and led around when we try and fit into the busy and often harsh world we live in.
Danielle, this proves that we don’t need a huge amount of equipment, but that all we need is the willingness to connect to our body, and gently exercise it to loosen, stretch and tone it up, to physically support us, which our body loves to do, and the more it is able to physically support us, the younger we feel.
It’s such a pervasive and strong belief that to exercise it needs to be painful, challenging and difficult – a “no pain, no gain” mentality. What’s interesting here is it’s just a mental belief because the body itself shows signs of pain and injury and we often feel resistant to this type of exercise. We actually do not have to smash ourselves or for exercise to feel abusive to get good results.
The gentleness of exercise transforms it into a way of caring for the movement of the body, a way of teaching the body how to move lovingly.
I have watched how sports have changed, especially training the body it is pushed to the extreme to maximise its capacity, diet plays a large part in exercise and yet no one until now has looked at changing the way we exercise and the changes that can be gained without adding extra strain on the body, and that gentle exercise can be as rewarding if not more so than pushing our body to the limit.
The facts the Danielle has mentioned here in relation to the physical strain we place on our bodies by running and pushing ourselves when exercising should make anyone stop and consider the body in which they live, and how that will feel in the years ahead. Old beliefs around exercise are not going to bring about a revolution in health and wellbeing, only our honest evaluation and care for the body we live in will.
Recently I put myself on an online program. I was amazed by the delicacy felt in my body as I connected to my body exercising gently and in a way where I was focusing on how my body was feeling so stopping when I felt to or regularly changing my posture to support my body… a very different workout to how I have previously exercised.
I wonder what is the statistic for how much injury our current forms of exercise cause the body. I remember how I use to exercise and the impact on my body was extreme and as the article gives us, the pressure running along puts on us is enormous. My training and exercise regime is completely different now to how it was prior. Gone is the running over any distance, gone are heavy weights, the deep tissue massages, the extreme training and sports and the list goes on. Now I still regularly exercise but it’s walking, stretching, breathing and lifting light weights to activate muscles. At this point in life I am at the strongest, most flexible and settled than I ever have been. It goes to show the model of bashing yourself as exercise is broken and the only way to fix it is to bring another way of exercise to ourselves, the gentler approach is the way.
I have always resisted exercising regularly because it felt so hard on my body. Danielle and Universal Medicine introduced a way of exercising gently and in honour of my body which feels amazing and supports me way more than any intensive exercise ever did.
How beautiful that from the philosopher’s wisdom of Serge Benhayon can come a new paradigm of connection with our bodies…
“I thank Serge deeply for suggesting that there may be another way to be with our body that is much more loving and supportive.” I now very much enjoy my exercises rather than see them as a chore and my body is saying ‘Thank you.’
An exercise revolution, being gentle, listening to the body and doing what is required, whilst improving fitness. Why aren’t people jumping for joy and lining up to learn how this is done?
The fact that many of us think we have to ‘go hard’ and push ourselves to get any form of benefit out of exercise shows the degree to which we are living out of tune with our bodies. What you are presenting here Danielle makes so much sense – that there is a way to work in accordance with our bodies that is going to lead to increased vitality and less exhaustion quite simply because it takes more energy to work against our physicality than work with it.
If you had told me 30 to 40 years ago that exercise can be done in a gentle way that is connected with the body I would probably have been very hesitant and thought that is only for people who do not want to ‘fully’ exercise. Having now experienced exercising gently with connection to my body, I can say that this form of exercising is simple, profound and powerful, whilst honouring my body at the same time, a far more loving choice.
I never enjoyed running. It never felt natural to me, but there was a period where I forced myself to do it because it was so popular, and I began to think there was just something wrong with me not liking it. I was interested to read how running affects the body and how you can be 1cm shorter after a marathon from all that pounding on your body. I do enjoy exercising my body and discovered that I can feel strong and have good fitness levels without completing punishing regimes in the gym. Having a gentle and consistent exercise routine really works for me and I am injury free.
“I have found that there is a renewed daily vitality, instead of the exhaustion that often comes with exercise.” This makes so much sense. When we push ourselves to exercise and end up feeling exhausted, it is the body telling us that we are harming ourselves whereas, when we exercise gently, constantly aware of how our body is feeling and as a result have renewed vitality, this is the body offering an appreciation of how we are treating ourselves.
I look back on the thirty years that I pushed my body with exercise and it all seems so pointless – trying to morph the body into something based on an image I had in my head to the detriment of my health and wellbeing. It’s so much more enjoyable to be able to feel the gentle movement of my body, to be able to feel my feet and legs and hips as I walk and exercise gently in the way you’re speaking of Danielle and to not feel exhausted in the process.
When I see those numbers for running, it really stops me, it makes me consider the impact it is having on my body and if it is truly something that I should be doing. I can get the same cardio vascular fitness from other lower impact forms of exercising so why would I choose to put my joints and my bones under that much pressure? Universal Medicine has supported me to approach exercise in a way that results in a more vital and consistent fitness level. There is always more to develop and discover but being open and honest to reassess my normal has always proved to be good medicine.
I love what you shared about the traditional forms of exercise. Even when I used to exercise in a more traditional way, whilst I chose to be unaware of the impact on my body, in all honesty I could say that when I looked at others exercising in a similar way it did not look right. People running never look like they are enjoying being in their body, lifting heavy weights looks painful for the body as does holding strong yoga poses. I now have a far more gentle way of exercise that my body calls for. If I haven’t exercised for a few days or been for a walk, my body lets me know – it is my body leading the way. There is no push or drive or thinking I must go to the gym.
I also thought that to be fit you had to do more that you would usually do to get fit. Like really pushing your body to the point it can’t go anymore. I would always feel good after it and the bit about adrenaline really explains that because it would never last very long. Now with the support of Danielle I am exercising gently which makes me feel lovely the whole day.
Thank you Danielle for leading the way with gentle exercise. I have been involved in the fitness industry most of my life and gone to gyms. I see how hard bodies become, not in a good way but out of balance and it does not surprise me how much injury comes from that forceful style of exercise. On the other hand, gentle exercise that Danielle prescribes is so respectful of the body, is fun to do and makes you feel great with no soreness later. It is amazing how gentleness can feel strong in your body. Once you have experienced this, there really is no going back to the old way of exercising.
I’m imagining the kind of health problems a body would incur from running a marathon, or from regularly running through out their life?
The potential cost to the NHS would be interesting to know, thinking hip replacements, knee replacements, arthritis?
What we do to our bodies is crazy hey!