Sunday, January 15, 2017

Pain's Tutelage

Pain’s Tutelage

Tim Maddox, movement enthusiast

Right now, my heel hurts because I tried to break The Law. I thought I could escape the inviolable balance of the universe. I thought I could get away with Too Much Too Soon. Turns out, I am not a special snowflake, unique and like no other. I’m just a regular schmoe who is susceptible to all the physical rules and limitations which govern phenomena and circumstances. So now what?

In Days Gone By

A couple of years ago, I’d have dropped into a depressive funk, ruminating over the loss of training time and the setback to my ever tenuous progress. I would have become sullen with a mind clouded by the thoughts of what I was losing. Sorry family and friends, I’m injured, so I’m turning on the jerk-mode and interpreting all events through this single point-of-view. Don’t try to comfort me, my loss is too deep. Ahhh!!! ....the miles I’m not running and the conditioning I am losing. [Rend garments here].

Changed Perspective

Today, I think about this differently by changing my perspective. Instead of bemoaning time lost at my primary passion of running, I will direct my thoughts more toward what I am capable of doing. I now have the opportunity to revisit the activities I set aside during my long distance training. As a result, I’ve done more hiking, belly crawling, low-noise movement, rowing, lifting, climbing, cold exposure and so forth.  

What is the Lesson?

Pain can be a distinct and limiting bummer and honestly my little heel pain is not even on the scale compared to what some folks live with on a daily basis. My words here reflect my personal experience and what has worked for me. But the same mental techniques which can help me overcome this physical issue can also apply to emotional and spiritual pain as well. When I make the choice for the pain to be an opportunity to practice patience, self-discipline and to transmute a negative into a positive, I take control, become the active agent and fight the helplessness or depression which can accompany physical issues. In this instance the pain itself is not the limiting factor, how I interpret its impact on the other parts of my life is what matters most. My perceptions, my mental story, the thoughts I form around what it means to me is the main cause of any suffering. So I make the choice to let the pain teach me about myself, about my arrogance, my pride and how lucky I am to have a riddle in my foot. In this way pain provides me with the opportunity to dive a little deeper into what this bag of bones, sinew and tissues is all about. Am I just an asymmetric projection of my movement abilities, a single-focused, all or nothing actor or am I capable of adapting to my situation, circumstances and finding the best path forward?

In our lives, pain is going to happen, but the suffering, the mental anguish which accompanies pain can be reduced and in some cases turned into joy when the right mental outlook is applied. Can I turn the lead in my heel into gold in my soul? I can if I accept the offering of pain’s tutelage. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Mindfulness is a Mindset

by Aaron Baulch, NSCA-CPT / MCT Level 2 & Combatives

A couple of days ago, I made my way to a local park here in Tulsa. It is called Woodward Park and is one of my favorite places to practice here. It was a beautiful winter afternoon, although we have had some warmer than usual temps here lately, and a perfect time to get outside for a barefoot walk / jog. Over the last several years, my feet have slowly adapted to being unshod and I have patiently learned to practice in the shoes I was born with. It is now, by far my preferred way to train? Inevitably, questions of why I am barefoot arise. Doesn't that hurt? Isn't that dangerous? Did you forget your shoes? What if you step on something? All are valid questions and over the years have opened up great conversations about the benefits of spending quality time in the grass barefooted. Understanding that this is still a very atypical practice, I have grown to expect these questions and use them as an opportunity to connect with others. On this particular day, there were no such questions as the park was relatively quiet. Consequently, I was able to ease into my walk, connecting to the earth and consciously giving attention to what has evolved as the main reason that I believe we should all spend some time barefoot in the grass... The Mindset of Mindfulness.

Shoes off, mind engaged
When I first began taking my shoes off to practice outside, I remember being incredibly hesitant. It wasn't like I hadn't done it before. We all have at some point. Children at play without a care in the world. Over time we grow into adults and wearing shoes is part of being a grown up, so we get up each day and put on our shoes. Casting our feet, we limit mobility and decrease sensation. This continues as we age and as the years pass by, our immobile feet begin to contribute to a host of alignment issues throughout our bodies. That is, until we decide to buck the system and kick off our shoes to walk in the grass, on the beach or just to simply move around our homes. If, and hopefully when this happens for us, a shift must occur and it is unmistakable. Without our protective and restrictive shoe casts, we must begin to pay attention. We must slow down a bit as we scan the ground in front of us, sensations return rapidly as the bottoms of our feet signal the brain allowing old and new movement to return throughout the body. Paying attention to each step is something that most of us haven't done in years - if ever. With our padded running shoes or ultra supportive hiking boots it isn't necessary. A bare foot walk has the ability to alter this in a hurry. Each step becomes a lesson in what it means to be mindful. Remaining present in an action and paying attention to what is happening around us and within us. We must truly feel the ground as our feet contact the earth so as not to step on something that may harm us as we slowly grow more accustomed to being shoeless. As we walk, this mindfulness begins to sink in and our entire system benefits from each step. Our feet begin to regain lost mobility and strength. This, in turn, helps the rest of our body align and strengthen, as we begin approaching our movement as a whole - from the ground up.

New Year - New Thoughts
So, it's the new year and it's for this reason that I wanted to spend a little time thinking about our feet. Getting at least a little bit interested in how they might affect our entire system. New Year - New Thoughts. Let your mind expand and let your thoughts drift toward being a tad bit more Mindful this year. Mindfulness is a Mindset and one that we practice daily at Mindful Body Fitness. Being mindful is being aware to what's around you and within you. Thoughts, feelings, sensation and emotions are all pieces of being mindful. So, take off your shoes, put your feet in the grass and take a stroll. Slow and easy. Noticing all the things that come up. It's different at first, but your brain and body will remember soon enough. Enjoy the lesson in mindfulness and maybe learn something about yourself in the process.

Happy New Year!! Thanks for reading and look for upcoming Mindfully Primal blogs every Tuesday during 2017. Looking forward to sharing a lot of the topics that are brought up and discussed each week at the studio. Until next week...Invest in Yourself. Learn to move again.

For over 25 years, the health and fitness industry has been Aaron’s chosen profession. After graduating from Oklahoma University, with a Liberal Arts Degree, he moved into a natural career path as a personal trainer. Currently residing in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Aaron’s training journey has included numerous opportunities, experiences and certifications. He is the Owner & Founder of Mindful Body Fitness and proud to be a MovNat Licensed Facility. Aaron will soon be completing his Restorative Exercise Specialist and Primal Health Coach Certifications, to go along with current certifications held from NSCA, MovNat, Mount Madonna Yoga Institute and FMS. He has extensively explored Anusara Yoga, Iyengar Yoga and the hardstyle kettlebell techniques of the RKC. Today, his focus lies in being both a teacher and student of Natural Movement, mindfully looking for the practicality within our movements and as often as possible, mixing in a large dose of play.

Aaron can be reached at or at 918.313.0000.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Connecting The Dots

by Aaron Baulch, NSCA-CPT / MCT Level 2 & Combatives
Stepping into my studio each morning I am continually reminded of its simplicity, not quite primitive, but close enough.

Kettlebells and a classic barbell set for lifting and carrying, a pull up bar for practicing hanging and climbing skills, various sized boards and concrete cinder blocks comprise a make shift balancing course that changes often. All of this sits atop a 30-by-30 set of black horse stall mats that allow space for crawling, rolling, throwing, catching, and jumping. With this simplicity comes a sense of peace and, with no bright shiny exercise equipment or sensory overload to distract us from our practice, mindfulness can slowly be cultivated. Of course, we get outside as often as possible to move barefoot in the grass and hopefully find a tree to climb. Each day, as a teacher, I get to use my imagination to create movement combinations that make work seem like play.

Early mornings are a time I often use for reflection and visualization. I reflect on where my fitness and movement path began and visualize this path as it winds into the future. This reflection and visualization is always interesting and is a major part of who I have become as a teacher and student. Continually looking back and evaluating my movement practice has allowed me to create my own personal movement timeline. It began with competitive athletics, moved into and through a brutal but rewarding bodybuilding career and onto a rejuvenating and therapeutic yoga mat. Today, all of the significant points or dots on my timeline are being connected through natural movement and the MovNat method. How and when did your timeline begin? Is it something that you have thought about? If you have, Great!! If you haven’t, it is time to start!!

As children, most of us can remember doing connect the dot pictures. Early on most of the dot pictures were simple, like stars, squares, and triangles. But, as we got older the pictures became more complex, like houses, jet planes, and people in action poses. The MovNat method is very much like a connect the dot picture. I often teach using this simple analogy as we deconstruct movement from the ground up, breaking down complex skills into simpler, more user-friendly techniques. This naturally breeds a more user-friendly learning environment, offering both the advanced practitioner and the raw beginner a chance to connect the dots on their own personal timeline. Connecting the dots on your timeline can be simple as long as you understand where you started and where you hope to go. This will make the movements that are practiced in the now have a greater purpose and meaning.

MovNat is an incredible method. When practiced mindfully and patiently, it has the ability to transform our bodies and minds. Everyday, in the simplicity of my studio, students learn a little at a time about themselves, as they connect natural movement dots that translate into their daily lives. Words such as PATIENCE, MINDFULNESS, EFFICIENT AND EFFECTIVE, all MovNat pillars, begin to take on a much greater meaning as we apply them with more mindful attention. For me, teaching has always been a gift. An opportunity. MovNat has given me, and others, a formula and platform to teach natural movement as it is intended – systematically deconstructing movement from the ground up. The system allows us, as teachers, to help students piece together their movement timelines. Piece by piece and skill by skill the dots are connected, making each daily practice have meaning. By now, I hope you are thinking about your personal movement timeline.
Do your dots create a clear picture?
Or, are the dots placed randomly with seemingly no connection or purpose?
Does your training practice translate to real world activities?
Do you feel trapped inside a tight and rigid body that is holding you prisoner?
If so, it is time to make a new dot on your timeline and begin to Mindfully connect the dots, the MovNat way.

For over 25 years, the health and fitness industry has been Aaron’s chosen profession. After graduating from Oklahoma University, with a Liberal Arts Degree, he moved into a natural career path as a personal trainer. Currently residing in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Aaron’s training journey has included numerous opportunities, experiences and certifications. He is the Owner & Founder of Mindful Body Fitness and proud to be a MovNat Licensed Facility. Aaron will soon be completing his Restorative Exercise Specialist and Primal Health Coach Certifications, to go along with current certifications held from NSCA, MovNat, Mount Madonna Yoga Institute and FMS. He has extensively explored Anusara Yoga, Iyengar Yoga and the hardstyle kettlebell techniques of the RKC. Today, his focus lies in being both a teacher and student of Natural Movement, mindfully looking for the practicality within our movements and as often as possible, mixing in a large dose of play.
Aaron can be reached at or at 918.313.0000.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Mindfully Primal - A Little on MBF Philosophy

A couple of the many topics that I want to spend some time discussing are training and nutrition. I know, I know, that seems to obviously go along with the territory, but i want to discuss them in simple terms and in ways that may be a little more user friendly. Naturally, with a studio name like Mindful Body Fitness, we spend quite a bit of time training to become more mobile, stable and to get stronger overall. This is what happens at MBF, but it is how we go about it that is a little ( or a lot ) different than how most of the fitness and training industry operates today.

I have spent the last 25 plus years in and around the wild world of fitness watching as fads, gimmicks, diets, equipment and training gear came and went. Buns of Steel instructional VHS tapes, the colorful & tight Hot Skins Clothing line and the low fat diet craze ( Snackwells Cookies anyone ? ), we endured them all as they had their moment basking in the sun of popularity and SOMEHOW, each of them were actually influential in how we approach all things fitness related in 2016.

Having participated in each and everyone of the above ( yes, i admit to wearing hotskins & eating snackwells - not at the same time --- well, maybe?? ), it is the approach to training and nutrition that I currently adhere to and teach these days that I feel has the ability to walk us slowly toward a more sustainable and vital lifestyle. What is that approach? Here are a few Mindful Body takes exploring the MBF Philosophy that are worthy of their own space in the future...

1...the MovNat System is fantastic
2...more practical movement - fewer bicep curls ( crawls & getups anyone? )
3...more general skill practice - less specificity ( elite athletics could be an exception - they are elite for a reason ) more healthy fats - it's ok, really!!
4...go barefoot more often - i can't wait to dive into this one ( check out Katy Bowman's book Whole Body Barefoot )
5...all the Primal Blueprint Laws ( thanks Mark Sisson at )
6...getting down to the floor & back up can be a sole training goal and should be for quality of life
7...train / practice to elicit change incrementally, laying a foundation, from which to build upon, patiently day in and day out over the course of weeks, months and even years. Look for the key words in the previous sentence...incrementally & patience - they are very important.
8...venture off of flat and stable terrain once in awhile for dramatic effects throughout your body ( see # 4 )
9...stretch your calves, drop your ribs, crawl, carry, pull & push, hang, play around on the mindful, patient and balanced...look for the goodness in things and remember to play.
10...know your boundaries and do not train to much...remember, if your brain and your body are not on the same page it can be a problem...understanding when to rest instead of train is a skill that takes time to get a handle on.

Ok, so there are 10 concepts that can be found in conversation each and every day at MBF. Give each of them a little thought and see how they might or might not elicit a spark of interest or curiosity. Of course, there are many, many more, but this is the group that immediately came to mind. I'll reserve the right to amend the list as time goes by. Cool?...Excellent.

Coming up after Thanksgiving, I promise to discuss my experience with my initial attempt of 21 Day Primal Transformation, as I delve deeper into my studies in the Primal Health Coaching Program created by Mark Sisson, author of The Primal Blueprint.

Invest in Yourself. Learn to Move Again. Train for Life.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


A little more than a week ago, I got married. It was an amazing and intimate ceremony with our immediate family in attendance. Our original plan had been to get married in the park where we first met, and that we did. Although we had to adjust a bit to a covered patio, due to an incredible morning thunderstorm, our wedding ceremony was truly perfect. It was the beginning of so much new and powerful in both of our lives. Following the ceremony, we transitioned to a short brunch reception at a local Tulsa restaurant and our honeymoon began. A honeymoon to be filled with exploration together and with a much needed dose of rest and relaxation from our fitness based lives. My wife is a gifted yoga instructor and I am a Natural Movement Lifestyle Coach. We own a small studio in Tulsa, Oklahoma aptly named Mindful Body Fitness. Our days at home are filled teaching others the importance of mindfully moving well, eating well and the positive impact that it has throughout all aspects our lives. In the midst of our honeymoon, inspired by adventures and conversations with my wife, it became apparent that it was time to join the vast blogging community. We hope to share bits and pieces of useful information in order to help others mindfully transform their lives toward better health both inside and out.

   Well, I guess it's time for an introduction. My name is Aaron Baulch. I have been involved in the fitness industry in one way or another for more than 25 years now. It's truly crazy when I think about it!! So many interesting fitness trends have come and gone since I began in this business. How did I get started? In 1993, I graduated from Oklahoma University and having just earned my first personal training certification from NASM, promptly moved to Dallas, Texas to become a personal trainer. I still remember the look on my parents faces when I told them my plan. A look that combined disbelief and lack of understanding. However, they were then, as they are now, completely supportive of my decision. After the shock wore off!!

      My personal training career path was driven throughout the 1990's by bodybuilding. The desire
for true movement education came later. Bodybuilding took me up into the super heavyweight class and an off season weight of around 300 pounds. I'm six feet tall, so this was a lot of weight to carry around. It wasn't the prettiest of 300, but it wasn't horrible either. Ultimately, I had a little success on the amateur level, but decided to call it quits in 2002.
     My body and my mind had grown tired of the bodybuilding grind and it was during the next several years that I moved into an exploratory time in my life. A reckless time spent in a never ending party cycle that consisted of everything and anything imaginable. A time that will be discussed in this blog at some point, in hopes of both helping and inspiring others to create positive change in there lives. I am thankful for the time spent in exploration...because of it, I am able to find so much joy in how I live life today. I am blessed with a 9 year old son, an amazing wife and a supportive family. All of whom I love more than they know and learn from in some way each and everyday.

    Ok. With the introduction complete, it's time to get the ball rolling and go into a bit about this blog and what will be found in it. I am currently a student in the Primal Health Coach Program. It is a course that is based upon the writings and teachings of Mark Sisson, author of The Primal Blueprint. Along with being a student in this program, I am an NSCA Certified Personal Trainer, MovNat Level 2 Certified, am finishing up the Restorative Exercise Specialist Program ( from Katy Bowman's Nutritious Movement) in January of 2017 and our studio is proud to be a MovNat Licensed Facility. Having spent time studying in many other disciplines as well, it seems like the right time to begin sharing what we do at Mindful Body Fitness. I currently teach and educate on everything from the awesomeness of being barefoot, benefits of the  primal lifestyle, all the way to how and why being able to crawl is important to our mobility, stability and strength...and all things in between. So, that is what will be found within the contents of this blog. Bits and pieces of hopefully useful information that can be translated to  everyday life situations. I hope to fill it with stories from my personal experiences, guest posts from others and even some sciency stuff on occasion as well. Typically, when I have written something to be read by others, I go through the process of writing and editing to get a finished product. This blog is going to be quite a bit different. I hope to share a short piece ( ha!! this one is getting pretty long ) every couple of days that has been discussed, or is being practiced in or around Mindful Body Fitness. Movement, primal nutrition / lifestyle and other applicable cool information that might be of interest. I am looking forward to sharing some of my thoughts, ideas and experiences in hopes of inspiring others. At almost 47 years young, I feel as if I am just getting, here we go!!
     Check back soon as I am going to detail how my experience on the 21 Day Primal Transformation is going after my wife and I REALLY ENJOYED our honeymoon. Until next time... Invest in Yourself. Learn to move again. Train for life.   - Aaron