I grew up along the Niagara Escarpment, not far from Niagara Falls. We did a lot of hiking. My Nan used to haul me and my cousins around on the bus. Armed with snacks and Twist Tie bags full of Kool-Aid, she'd pull the cord and we'd be ejected onto some unknown street, adventuring our way home. My first favorite sport was climbing trees. Kicking around Lake Ontario was a close second. I was being raised by women–aunts and cousins, moms and grandmoms. Then my mom got remarried. She moved us into a house full of men and I spent the next few years trying to get excused from gym class, afraid of my body, what it could and couldn't do, unsure how to live inside it. For the first time, I was acutely aware of the difference between boys and girls. I knew I was lacking.
When I found my way back to fitness, it was through a sexualized lens. I had learned–like so many women do–that I needed to look a certain way in order to have value. Exercise wasn't about being well, it was about fitting into a size 2. I terrorized myself for many years, trying to measure up. I started smoking so I wouldn't eat, I used drugs. I severely restricted what I ate, then I binged and purged. I spent hours on the treadmill, the ski machine, the elliptical, all so that I could check some worthiness box, prove to myself that I mattered.
Guess what? It didn't work. If anything, my worth became even more tightly wound up in my appearance. It was all I had. I couldn't see beyond the mirror. I was afraid to even try.
And then I was diagnosed with breast cancer. During six months of chemo, I learned that binge drinking and yo-yo dieting are two of the most prominent risk factors for breast cancer in young women. It was like my body had finally decided to fight back, and I was forced to listen. I went into treatment for my eating disorder and eventually, I got sober. Part of that process was me stepping away from the gym. I needed the time to
re-evaluate my relationship with my physical self. I started writing more, taking breathwork classes. I went outside. I noticed things. Like how much my mental health was affected by natural movement, not just within me, but all around me. I started to realize how interconnected all of these practices are, that Mindbody wasn't just a name for the software we used at the gym.
I started to love myself a little at a time. Human beings are amazing. I'm a human, so that must mean I'm amazing, too. The realization was a revelation. Everything shifted, continues to shift. And it's hard, but it is also glorious. I wish everyone could know what it's like. Even if just for a moment.
That is the purpose behind HALO Holistic Wellness.
What's your story? What do you believe? About yourself, your body, your worth? What did you grow up thinking about exercise? Food? Family? Friendship? What do you value? Do you think about beauty? How do you relate those ideals to you and your physical self? Do you love your body or loathe it? Why? If I asked you to stand in front of a mirror, buck naked in broad daylight and just stare at yourself–how would that make you feel? Does being "healthy" seem like a punishment? And what does healthy even mean?
Life is a collection of stories. So much is cool about that–not only is narrative open to interpretation, but you can change the theme or the meaning any time you want. Maybe your story right now is that you hate working out and maybe that's because of some other story that happened in your past. Let's look at that, but let's do it while we're walking on the beach, laughing about how our parents or coaches or teachers or camp counselors or kids in our class right fucked us up. We can laugh about it. And then maybe we can go about writing a different story.
I have always loved working out, but when I was doing it from a place of lack, I was pushing myself too hard. All I cared about was the destination. Now, I try to think about the movement itself as the goal, focusing on the journey instead. There can be joy in the process. There is love for this body, exactly how it is right now. I revel in what it can do, how capable it is, how strong.
That's what I want for you.
Whatever your goals, wherever you're starting from–even if you hate working out–I want you to move for movement's sake. And yes, I have been a trainer for 20 years and I have been ACE, TRX and Power Plate certified, so I am capable of training just about anyone, but here's the thing–I am really here for the beginners. The newly sober or single. The ones who have been traumatized. The grief-struck. The ones who are afraid of the gym or walking down certain streets or getting in their cars alone at night.
If a body is a house, I want to help you feel like your house is your home. Because–at least in this lifetime–it's the only one you've got.
I wasn't raised with religion, but I have always wished for something more. I think that's why I loved tripping on mushrooms so much–psychedelics allowed me some experience of the magic I hoped was out there but didn't know how to access. Then, when I was 24, my mother died by suicide. Rather than turn to God, I turned to science. I believe in the law of conservation of energy, which states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, it just changes form. So, if we think of our consciousness as an energy source, then that source becomes something else. Logically, I could understand it, but I didn't know how to embody it. I got sober through a twelve-step program. I was asked to put my faith in a power greater than myself. I had no fucking idea how to do that.
And then I tried breathwork.
There are many forms of breathwork, many of them at least loosely based on Leonard Orr's rebirthing practice of the 70s. My first practitioner was trained by David Elliott. That first experience was so powerful for me, I immediately signed up for teacher training. It is through breathwork that I found the source, the connection between all things. This is the term I use instead of God: Source or Spirit. And connecting to it has been more profound than any drug. (And I have done a lot of drugs.) As the practitioner, I am here to demonstrate the technique, help you set your intention, pick a kick-ass soundtrack, and then to hold the space for you to breathe. Clients lie comfortably on the floor, pulling air deep into the diaphragm, filling the lungs, and then exhaling, all through an open mouth. Sessions typically last about an hour, with 30 to 40 minutes of active breathing,10-15 minutes of quiet meditation, and time for closing comments.
If you read this and think, oh hell no, I get it. I felt exactly the same way. The fact is: it is the things our hearts are most desperate for that we resist the most. Stephen Pressfield talks about this in his book The War of Art. Why not try it? Especially if you're struggling?
MIND–BODY–SPIRIT Whole Human Workshops
These 90-minute workshops were designed to promote whole human integration, touching on all three concepts, because, let's face it, we tend to focus on the stuff we like and the rest be damned. In this class, we learn how MIND-BODY-SPIRIT are connected through practice, by doing. We start with a welcome, answer any questions, set our intentions, and do a short reading. Then we move for 20 minutes, breathe for 30, meditate for 10 or 15 minutes, and then spend the rest of the time writing through our experience in the hopes that we may have discovered something about ourselves and our stories and what it means to be human.
My goal is to offer these classes privately but also to community centers, schools, drug and alcohol rehabs, sober livings, and as an option for corporate wellness trainings that isn't yoga. What can I say? Some of us just don't like yoga (*raises hand). Or have tried yoga and know the practice is supposed to foster harmony in the body, mind, and environment, but can't get past the physical poses long enough to quiet the mind
(*raises hand again).
Cost and Contact
Sessions range in cost depending on format and content, with discounted rates for nonprofits and community centers. Check out my IG @theamandafletcher to get an idea of who I am as a person and email me firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a complimentary consultation. Whether we work together or not, know this: you are already valuable beyond measure. In this body you inhabit right now. All the time. Every day. No. Matter. What. My goal is to help you fully embody this reality.