Tuesday, August 16, 2011

fitness | Roya Siroospour: an interview

After dragging, bouncing, hopping, lifting, bending, jumping and bopping my way through several states and three countries worth of gyms and myriad exercise classes, I am pretty clear on what circumstances make me want to work hard, and which conditions catapult me into threatening to bag the whole fitness thing and reconsider purchasing a muumuu and lifetime supply of crunchy cheesy snacks to enjoy on my new sofa. To maintain a certain level of physicality takes ramping up at various intervals in ones progress through time and space.

My "gym du jour" possesses an Instructor who manages to get me cranked up into struggling through routines that leave even the "big boys" with bulging eyeballs. The fact that there are males at all present in a fitness classroom is an anomaly; grunting through a set of rusty metal weight-lifting sets in front of other males and a smattering of nubile females is a more accepted behavior in the masculine tribe ritual. Taking direction "from a girl" is not in the Male Behavior Manual last time I looked.

Over the past several years I have been happily following a certain instructor; Roya is a bundle of kinetic energy and unending good will towards the sloth-like behavior of the average class attendee. Recently I began questioning why Roya, specifically, makes me want to work that hard; which in turn leaves me with a great sense of accomplishment and contentment. I have never been hurt by her class but have often ached with deep and prolonged muscle-usage, which, by the way, I consider a good thing.

To overcome perceived physical short-comings, which all too often are self imposed in origin, is proof that if you can push through the physical barriers, it is a short mental / emotional hop to a realization that one can override other difficulties .

I asked Roya what part of her motivational aspects were unscripted and which were purposefully calculated to control the energy in the room. I wanted her take on how this body-mind thing worked from her front-row seat.

How she gets the energy in the room rolling?

Roya: "When I come into the (exercise) room, I shut down all processes. I grew up a performer, so I know how to turn it on."

No matter what is going on in her life, physically or mentally, she makes it a point to put that aside and re-formulate the mood before entering her classroom.

" It is important to take control of the room. Who is in there also adds to the energy. There is an energy field and it has to be in a certain spot or I have to work harder to bring it up."

Roya needs the front row to be responsive and create the dynamism which will ripple into the receding rows and create a vibrance everyone feeds from and returns back to the group. If the right situation is not in place, Roya will have to work harder to bring it up. Occasionally she will feel logy energy in a class, leaving her drained from working without the aid of reciprocal exuberance. A group can merely take vitality and not give in return, or conversely share their joy and vigor. It becomes a spiraling eddy of "group think", much in the way a car can be sucked up in the "draft" of a large semi truck on the road.

"It's as if we're all rowing and someone's sipping a cocktail. I am consciously cranking up the energy" Roya explains.

In any social group, you can tell who is providing the "juice", the lower energy people plug into the other like an EV battery from a new electric car.

Roya: "I was always super energetic and loved big groups."

When she first moved to a Miami gym from Colorado she was concerned that no one would be interested in what she offered. It did not take long for her classes to fill to capacity. I was there......it happened quickly. The draw is that "super energy" that creates others to want that degree of explosive pizazz. At first I didn't think much about it, but now find myself ruminating as to what, exactly, produces the magnetic force.

Gunning is a relatively new piece of exercise equipment in our gym which resembles a spinning cycle, but using the upper body, your hands on "pedals". Gunning on the KrankCycle was created by the same person who brought us the wildly popular "Spinning", John G. Krank. Adding a personal heart monitor linked to a screen above the class area, allows each participant to track and regulate his own heartbeat. The heart monitor is attached to each class member's torso and flashed onto the screen, allowing the student to note how his body is responding. The student adjusts his energetic output to stay within various zones prescribed by the instructor as the class progresses.

Roya can see how the mind and body are disconnected in some individuals when they first enter the Gunning arena. She notes, " It can be very hard to get people into Gunning because they are so detached; it can be as simple as too much caffeine and too little hydration."

Music is an integral part of the feel good dynamic. Roya's choices? "If it works for me, it works for everyone. I move better when there's music; it makes my body move....it's part of my soul. If you can follow a rhythm, every part of your body will start to move; musical beats are cyclical, like your heartbeat or breathing. With Spinning (a repetitive movement ) you begin to feel trance-like and focus on the beat."

Yoga is about becoming one with your breath. Roya is taking this same yogi thought and bringing music into creating the "one-ness" quotient: music, the heart's rhythm and the breath become an intertwined beat. Fitness movements provide an environment to forego over-think mode allowing mind and body to meld completely into a cohesive whole; the body moving as one unit instead of a series of disparate parts threatening to to fly apart at any given moment.

I asked Roya about her experiences with one-on-one training; "I worked one woman hard for 2 months, but she never lost weight. Her background was fried food and cream, so I had to physically take her to the grocery store, walked her through, reading labels." The woman got it with that last ditch effort to educate, and lost 47 pounds. She began to make her own juices and recipes, excited by the new connection to her own destiny.

Roya has the added support of having a family on the same page with the mind-body connection; her father spent 30 years as a Yale-educated Surgeon, and is now an Holistic healer.

Roya always loved the gym, at 16 years old, the gym felt like home. She competed in gymnastics and rode horses. Today her schedule is exceptionally full of physical exercise. As well as a killer schedule at 3 Miami CRUNCH gyms, Roya manages to have plenty of energy to perform freestyle dancing. A prime example of positive energy breeding positive energy, which, happily she shares with her clients.

Roya Siroospour is Group Fitness Instructor And Personal Trainer


An excerpt from the "in-progress" project MOVING MIND

by daniela bertol and irene sperber