The sun was just breaking through the previous night’s rain-filled clouds when my bare feet touched the dewy grass under the towering Eucalyptus trees. Strewn out around me lay a yoga mat, a foam mattress covered with two colorful Mexican blankets, boxing gloves and various yoga props.
Brieann bounced about around me, pulling a few more things out of her bag and strategically placing them on the grass with a smile that could light up the darkest of places.
It was 6:30 am on a Sunday morning and I was scheduled to meet Brieann Boal from Wabi Sabi Well for a one-on-one personal training session. I have to admit, I was a little nervous as I loitered about shyly, seemingly out of my depth. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy exercise or being fit, active and outdoors, nor did being up at the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning bother me in the slightest. It was more so the image that personal training evoked in my minds eye – sweat and tears and monotonous, repetitive exercises that left you grimacing in agony for three days afterwards.
Yet Brieann’s sessions are something quite different.
Wabi Sabi Well is a unique creative fusion of movement, meditation and massage. There is something even just in the sound of those three words placed side by side that sounds so inviting and heavenly.
The term Wabi Sabi means to live life through the senses, to observe wisdom in nature and to recognize beauty in imperfection. it is about celebrating the cracks and flaws, the imperfect perfection in everything simply as it is.
Self-acceptance and self-love are woven through Brieann’s approach to fitness with gentle intent. Her sessions are crafted to nourish the body and soul and to inject her clients with the inspiration and motivation to commit to the life they have always dreamed of creating, whole and complete just as they are.
It is like the Japanese process of Kintsugi, Brieann explains, “When the Japanese mend a broken object, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something has suffered damage and has a history, it becomes more beautiful.”
Brieann has been a personal trainer since she was 19, working in gyms, health resorts and doing one-on-one training mainly in corporate environments. Massage became interwoven through her sessions after her travels abroad certified her with Thai and Lomi Lomi massage qualifications. Yoga came onto the scene a little later, and as Brieann recalls, was more of a challenge. “I walked out of my first class when everyone was resting with their eyes closed in child’s pose,” she reveals to me with a child-like giggle, “I went back to the gym and jumped on a treadmill, I just didn’t get it.”
But, as Brieann says in her sessions, it is often the things that we dislike and resist the most that are the things that will offer us the greatest insights and benefits.
“Yoga kept finding me,” Brieann recalls, “it just wouldn’t give up!”After helping to promote a Yoga Aid challenge in Brisbane, Brieann was taken in by the yoga community of lululemon, helping to change her original outlook on the practice. “lululemon showed me that yoga feeds the soul, it was about honoring your body and loving your body, which was what my whole journey had to that point been about.”
Brieann’s own journey to health, like so many others, is riddled with potholes, detours, and setbacks, which is where her Wabi Sabi philosophy has stemmed from. “Wabi-Sabi has given me the life I was always chasing in my ‘perfect life quest’. I have the intimacy I longed for. A body I love. The creative flow, self-acceptance and the state of contentment I always dreamed of. Is my life perfect? No. It’s wabi-sabi (imperfectly beautiful) and I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Our session began with several sun salutations as Brieann helped me to breathe life into my waking body and move through stretches to open the heart and places in the body where stiffness like to rest and hide.
After setting an intention for the session, clarifying what it was that I wished to gain from our time together, we moved onto the cardio component of the class which consisted of a fun and energetic mix of boxing, squats, pushups and mat work. Brieann’s intuitive nature seemed to know exactly the right balance between pushing and easing off, maintaining a level where I was working hard, but not wanting to curl up into a ball and disappear out of sight.
The final component of the training incorporates massage and mediation, which are two of the key aspects that sets Brieann’s sessions apart from anything else I had ever come across. Again, knowing the exact balance between pressure and relaxation, Brieann moves through a thorough, whole body massage, finding and releasing points of tension, offering gentle insights as her hands work.
“Everyone holds onto emotional tension in different places and sometimes we carry it around not even knowing it’s there,” she explains as she works on a particularly tangled knot behind my shoulder blade. “It’s a constant process of seeing, feeling, and letting go.”
We ended with a focused, yet dream-like guided meditation, which relaxed me to the point of nearly slipping away. Luckily, the morning sun on my face and gentle ocean breeze on my skin kept me present, while the songs from the morning birds around us kept me aware of the hour of the day.
Brieann’s warm nature and her complete understanding of the fact that every single body is different makes each session unique and comfortable. “Along my own path,” Brieann explains, “I discovered that my sources of shame to hide, became beacons of light to share.” There is no judgment, nothing that could ever make you feel insecure or uncomfortable, rather she instills in you a sense of power, radiance and vibrancy – a belief in yourself and your capabilities that a week-long retreat could not muster with such succinct depth and knowing.
It takes a special kind of person to coax you out of bed at 6am on a Sunday morning when the sky is still dark and the temptation of falling back into the land of dreams tugs at your sub conscious with a mischievous grin. Yet I guarantee, one session with this beautiful soul will have you jumping on that mat beside her and pulling on those boxing gloves at any hour of any day, time and time again.
Aside from her fitness credentials, Brieann is also a crafter of words in the most poetic and whimsical of ways. Follow her blog posts and find out more about her sessions on her gorgeous new website, wabisabiwell.com, or email email@example.com