ReCREATE your workout… GROOVE it!
When Misty Tripoli started losing passion for teaching group ex and mind body classes, she knew something had to change. By tapping into creativity and authenticity, she created a method that turns the instructor into a facilitator, and empowers participants to move to the beat of their own drums.
GROOVING is a style of exercise class based on The GROOVE Method®, a revolutionary, alternative and simple approach to teaching movement. I developed and started teaching this method several years ago after spending 18 years of instructing all forms of movement, from dance to yoga to kickboxing and everything in between. The way I was teaching stopped making sense to me, and I was starting to become uncomfortable and lose the passion for my work.
I observed that my student’s measurement of success was whether they could keep up with me and/or copy my movements. I had spent many years creating choreography and overly challenging workouts that would impress students with my abilities, but which weren’t about their needs and their success so much as they were about me and feeding my ego. I would spend hours preparing for every class, which resulted in teaching becoming a drain on my mind, body and spirit. Something had to change.
When I thought about what I really wanted to give my students, it was clear that I wanted share with them my love of dance and give them the opportunity to experience the pure bliss and joy that comes when you dance with authentic wild abandon – like no one is watching. But the only way for that to happen would be if they danced their own way, not mine.
I have been labelled as controversial for my methodology, but the truth is, whenever you are ‘following the leader’, you are following – and when you are following you are not completely in your body. Your focus, your attention and awareness are on the instructor or external, not on how the movement actually feels in your body and being present with what you are doing. You have to bring your awareness to the internal for that to happen. This is what grooving allows you to do; it pulls you into the present moment and allows you a safe and unintimidating space to do it your own way, providing the opportunity to practice being unique, authentic and creative.
Because many people like to be told what to do, there will always be ‘follow the leader’ classes or workouts, which are very beneficial and loads of fun, but workouts like The GROOVE Method® can offer an alternative way of teaching and a different kind of class experience. It turns the instructor into a facilitator.
GROOVING is not a ‘freestyle’ dance class, however: there has to be structure in order for people to feel safe. In a GROOVE class, we start each song with having all the participants unify in one to three very basic functional movements that you would see in a traditional group exercise class like squatting, kicking, punching and jumping. Once everyone has got to grips with the basic movements, we explore the potential of the moves set to amazing music. We let the style and innate power of the music do most of the work. All we have to do as the facilitator is to ask participants questions and provide suggestions or ideas for how they could possibly execute or perform the movements differently or more creatively, e.g. could you do it bigger? Could you travel or turn the movement? Could you do it backwards? Could you let your arms join the movement? There is no right or wrong, right or left and no choreography to memorise.
Everyone unifies in one movement, yet each person does it in their own way – the way that feels good to them. Once participants have learnt one, two or maybe three movements, we transition back and forth between them throughout the song while staying in the groove, rhythm or flow. We also make use of the entire room – every angle, every level, every direction and every wall. There is no front, there is no back, just an open space to explore and GROOVE through.
The magic happens because it is simple. Participants can master these basic movements quickly, allowing them to relax into what they are doing, become present and embody the movement. In other words, they get to GROOVE it, make it their own and execute it the way that feels best for their body, rather than trying to force their body to match the instructor’s personal preferences. Everybody is different and the GROOVE method honours this truth.
Grooving also brings into the fitness realm something we don’t typically see, personal creativity on the part of our participants. Yes, we as group exercise instructors get to be creative, but by us defining everything for our students, they don’t usually get to explore or condition that very important internal muscle of creativity which not only feeds the mind, but also the soul. It can be breathtaking to watch someone express themselves uniquely, authentically and creatively.
The good news is, we all have a creative genius inside, but unfortunately most us are terrified of looking stupid or embarrassing ourselves so we end up restricting our movements and our expression. We can easily gain access to our personal creative genius, but we have to give ourselves permission to be a little crazy, try something different and open ourselves up to bravely exploring the unlimited possibilities that exist inside of us. A huge part of this is moving past the fear of looking stupid or worrying what others might think about our expression. Fear restricts our movements and our lives! Our bodies have become a battleground and for many the fear wins and we miss out on the delicious experience of our creative potential. Don’t be afraid: it’s only movement and your body is your playground! Only you can set yourself free from the mental and physical prison of fear. Plus, a massive truth we need to remind ourselves of constantly is that nobody cares what you look like – and if they do, it’s their burden!
My greatest wish is that we all tune into and trust the creative magical force that animates us to live authentically, creatively and fully expressed – and to allow the space for everyone else to do the same. Get your GROOVE on!
The pictures below and the video above demonstrate a few movements and examples of songs that will give you a good flavour of what The GROOVE Method® is all about! Since the music inspired the movements, I have included the name of the tracks in case you want to try them out on your own or with your students. Trust the simplicity – I dare you!
Ski; Jump and Wiggle; Funky Walking
Track: Disc Odyssey (remix) by Crazy P
Ski: Mimic the action of downhill skiing. Do little jumps side-to-side with your feet close together; you can also act like you have ski poles in your hands to help with the momentum of the jump. There are many options once you have the basic ski motion: you can do it backwards; you can see how high you can jump; you can rotate 180 degrees when you jump.
Jump and Wiggle: With the legs wide, jump or hop backwards and wiggle your butt. Every jump backwards should travel and/or go in a different direction. The butt leads this movement so really stick it out and move it.
Funky Walking: This is exactly what it sounds like. Connect to the beat and walk as funkily as you can, in any direction you want. It’s more fun if you let the arms move with the body.
Step and Kick; Squat and Thrust
Track: Evil (is going on) (on the True Blood Soundtrack) by CC Adcock & Jace Everett
Step and Kick: Step on one foot and kick the other in any direction or at any level. You can also use the arms or hands to accent the kick.
Squat and Thrust: Stand with your legs wide, drop down into a deep squat, push your butt way back, then pull and thrust the hips forward, squeezing the glutes if you like. If you want to create a more challenging workout, play with how deep you can squat. It is also fun to use the muscles of the face and do facial expressions as you perform the move.
Co-founder and creator of The GROOVE Method®, Misty is one of the world’s most innovative and engaging fitness instructors, choreographers and mind/body specialists. Touted as one of the most creative, controversial and influential instructors of our time, Misty uses her passion and creativity to inspire positive change towards simplicity in a very complicated industry. For more on Misty, visit www.MistyTripoli.com and for upcoming training in Australia and information about The GROOVE Method® go to www.theGROOVEmethod.com