Guest post by Ulrich Honighausen
Last fall, in the middle of the night, my wife and I escaped a massive wildfire that left our house, barn, and everything we owned in ashes. We experienced the towering inferno of flames as they approached. Then, in January, I spent a week training in extreme cold in Poland, culminating in a three-hour hike up a mountain wearing nothing but boots and shorts during a minus 20-degree celsius snowstorm. It was surreal to experience such dramatic and different events within a short time span, but the strangest part was realizing that they were equally invigorating, regardless of the positive or negative impact. On a recent walk, my wife asked me if I will always need this type of adrenaline to feel alive and energetic. While in the past, I wouldn’t have had an answer or might have felt the need to defend my choices, this time without any hesitation, I said: “No, luckily I have the Happy Body now.”
I came to Jerzy and Aniela last year hyped up on adrenaline, having dabbled in every training trend of the past 35 years. I was looking for calm. I was looking for a sustained sense of energy. And, I did not want to pick up another injury. I call their program “Happiness in One Packet.” They handed me a few simple sheets of paper and, in return, I got flexibility, strength, proper posture, physical therapy, relaxation and a simple eating plan. I need to be able to do my exercises everywhere in the world because I travel internationally extensively. The exercises are fun and achievable whether in a hot and humid hotel gym in China or in a state of the art nightclub-style facility in Berlin that’s blasting techno music. To ensure that I never miss a day, I also travel with water weights to use in a hotel room. I love it.
When I relayed my wife’s question to Jerzy and Aniela, they reminded me that focus and presence are necessary to do the exercises properly and are, therefore, integral to my daily practice. Each exercise has six components, and I must not mindlessly or impatiently rush lifting the weights or moving my body. Every step requires focus and presence to improve in order to safely move me along to further challenges. Impatience and mental shortcuts will only inhibit progress.
As I approach one year of training with Jerzy and Aniela, I realize, more and more, how fortunate I am as a non-professional athlete to be receiving world-class professional coaching. I know first hand because, as a former college athlete, I experienced how difficult and rare it is to find this type of coaching. In fact, I thought my time window to access that level of coaching had passed. After my freshman year playing soccer, my coaches at UCLA sent me to the weight room to get stronger for next season. Sadly, back in the early 1980’s, it was about building bulk and, for me, the result was that I completely lost my “touch” with the ball. Embarrassed and confused, I quit soccer and vowed never to lift weights again. Ironically, a few years later, after I had graduated, Jerzy and Aniela came to UCLA and created the weightlifting program. I wish I had been there when they were. But, it seems life has come full circle.
Jerzy and Aniela have a combined century of disciplined training, wisdom, and world championship titles to prove it. I bring them my life questions, curiosities, and concerns and they attentively listen, interpret what I’m saying, and help me find the right mindset to achieve my goals. As masters in their profession, they have helped me to realize that I may have used the search for intense experiences as a shortcut to access the power of focus, but instead, I was inadvertently caught in a negative feedback loop. I just was not sustaining any of that focus and power in my everyday life. Instead, they helped me to connect to my focus, strength, and athleticism through daily training. Adrenaline can be awesome, and I am now more fit physically and mentally to enjoy it in the proper doses. With the Happy Body and the guidance of Jerzy and Aniela, I now live more in the state of calm energy, which is a nice way of being.