This time last year I was in a beautiful part of the world known as Byron Bay. There's an energy about that area and the people who live there, they all seem to know that deep down we are all connected to the earth and each other. We met up with a Brie-Ann, a gorgeous lady changing the way we see ourselves and focus on fitness with her business Wabi-Sabi Well. I must admit, I do follow 'bikini body' instagram accounts... but after interviewing Brie-Ann it prompted me to look at fitness and my own body completely differently and to not accept the imperfections but find the beauty in them. Thank you Brie-Ann & Josh for showing us around your beautiful property and Brie-Ann for shining this thought on me and sharing with our readers, can you find the beauty in your imperfections?
Tell us about your business Wabi Sabi Well
Wabi-Sabi Well is the antidote to perfection-seeking, bikini bootcamps.
(Holistic lifestyle design with an emphasis on feel-good fitness)
It started as a personal training business in the backyard beaches of Byron and has since expanded (due to requests) online. I’m now globetrotting - logging in and out of seven different countries and 12 cities with Skypercise sessions.
What’s sparkling on my horizon however, is collaboration. A beloved and oh-so-savvy client proposed recently (to take my hand in partnership) I said yes and together we’ve been tinkering away (behind the cyberscenes) creating a Wellness Wonderland. We’re both busting at the seams to share but are sworn to secrecy for a little while longer. Stay close by.
Why did you start the business?
In short, it was the method I wished existed.
Mainstream fitness models present the body as something to be controlled, dominated, reduced into parts and ‘target areas’. It’s all about superficial attainments (“The Bikini Body”). Wabi-Sabi Well on the other hand, is a clarion call to dig a little deeper, celebrate imperfect beauty and see life through a zen lens.
Why did I feel the need to reform a fitness thing or two?
I’d been working in global fitness franchises for over a decade and felt faded by the industry. The neon-light focus on physical, the socially normative bodycompers – counting calories and chain eating tuna. With a highschool history of disordered eating ‘Globogym’ (false name) was no consolation.
It wasn’t that I got swept up in the culture. I didn’t enter body comps, I refused to go near the scales and I never counted calories. I inoculated myself against bikini body propaganda, ‘fitspo’ + ‘thinspo’ but like they say in AA – ‘If you don’t want to slip don’t go where it’s slippery.’
The weight loss industry, by default is slimy! As a dear friend says, “it’s the nature of the beast.” It feeds off the anxiety of imperfection. The more inadequate and deficient you feel the more the industry stands to gain.
So I jumped ship, literally, donned a sailors cap and joined my lover on the big blue. Working on the yacht was a breath of fresh air. I floated adrift from the industry long enough to see my horizons clearly. Movement and meditation are the self-renewing rituals I reach for daily. Fitness is where my heart beats but I couldn’t return to the industry as I left it. So I designed it anew - in a way that felt pure, nourishing and wholesome. I’d wake before work (and the sun) and create - mapping out the ultimate feel-good formula. The Wabi-Sabi way of fitness.
Wabi-Sabi, in short, is a Zen Buddhist philosophy centered around finding the beauty in imperfection. As a workout it’s the culmination of all that has pulled me over the years. Personal Training, Psychosomatic Therapy, Meditation, Mindful Movement, Metaphysics, Yoga, Breathwork, Positive Psychology, Mantra-Movement, Eastern philosophies… (this list goes long). The more I practice movement in this mindful/multi-modal way the more present, peaceful and creatively powerful I feel.
What was your journey that led you down this path and choose Wabi Sabi as business?
I touched on this above but the genesis story starts where all stories do - under 3 feet tall. Back then I was a shy, sensitive kid with a fairly lopsided view of myself and my place in the world. Born into a family of Na’vi people (impossibly long-limbed) taunts of adoption were taken (by my 8 year old ears) as truths. I didn’t fit the physical family mould. It was a seedling sense of ‘otherness’ that grew as I did. In my mind I didn’t fit in, I was different, always on the outer. (I know, I know grab the violin right) As a calcified kid and more tomboy than girl, puberty didn’t go down well. In fact, I deferred it altogether. I pretty much put a halt to maturity and development. Shut down the body and moved to higher ground (mindscape). This was the beginning of dislocation + dissociation (from body, life, loves). The gap widened as the years went by. Disorders and depressions shape-shifted. I swapped one addiction for another, never quite hitting the root cause but always and forever looking for it. I became fixated on fixing. On the idea that I was fucked up and the heartbreaking thought that maybe I always would be. The irony is that this fixation on fixing is what kept me so incredibly stuck. I’ve come to realize this harsh analytical scraping did me no good. It only solidified the problem. At the same time I’m blessed for it. Without my own inward travels I’d not have the compulsion to seek, heal and help guide others. Spiritual wanderlust is essentially what lead me to Buddhist teachings, Vipassana and the Zen philosophy of Wabi-Sabi (celebrating the beauty in imperfection, knowing that all is incomplete, imperfect, transient).
The way I see it, Wabi-Sabi is Kintsuji for the soul ‘mending cracks with gold.’ As Nietzsche puts it, rebaptizing all your negative qualities as your best qualities. For me, this has been transformational and transcendent. It’s the seed from which Wabi-Sabi Well sprouted and continues to grow. It’s inner-alchemy. If I can turn the dark places I’ve been to gold then all is well.
You absolutely live what you teach, was it hard making all the conscious changes in your daily lifestyle ? What were some of the easiest and what were some of the hardest?
Everything is a gradual evolution, unfolding, improving and changing. When I try on the word ‘hard’, when I really feel into it and call up the times that match, all that comes to mind is my mind, silencing it (and continuing to do so). It’s easy to be seduced by the need to fix and achieve. That’s where strain + pushing enters. What was ‘hard’ for me was dissolving the idea that I was in some way, damaged or broken. That small room in my mind held a lot of sorrow, tears and despair. It’s also the dark corner of the collective psyche that grows broken behavior. Over the years cultivating a wabi heart and mind has radically altered my existence. To be frank it was a trade in - night for day. I got out of clubs and night work and into an endless sunrise of active living. Explorations into chemical escapism were replaced by spiritual vagabonding + meditation. Eating disorders evolved into radical self-embracism and self-flagellating exercise has made way for mindful movement.
Like anything it’s not a case of click your heels and wish it away, nor is it a white knuckle approach it’s a practice, a gradual evolution, a gentle reworking, reframing, redesigning your interior world to be more comfortable and kind to you.
As for the easiest conscious changes to my daily lifestyle?
Little things like eating the neighbor’s organics; trading in moisturizers, cleansers, conditioner and make up for natural products (or more accurately one product. Tell me something coconut oil can’t do?); opting for fluoride free toothpaste and water; taking my own bags to the store; recycling water (bucket showers anyone?) and using chemical free cleaning products. Vinegar and water is the coconut oil of cleaning products (I use on everything from bench tops to yoga mats)
One choice that the females might like to read about is the menstrual cup, when did you change this in your lifestyle and what prompted you to make the change? Tell us about your experiences with using it if you can?
Yep, boys you’ll want to cover your ears for this one.
Laluna cups (lalunacup.com) went round our friendship circle last year. One of those over-the-back-fence secret shares. One girlfriend tried it, loved it and passed it on. Now we’re all using them and here I am whispering it in your virtual-ear. Why are they something to write home (or here) about?
Well, for starters I’m pretty chuffed about the fact that I’ll never use another pad or tampon again! Conventional tampons should come with a warning label. They’re little white sticks of dynamite – leaching toxins and chemicals into the most intimate part of our bodies. No thanks. My little moon cup is a much healthier choice and one that’s kind to the planet (no landfill contributions). I’m also saving precious life moments. No more late night trips to the chemist or feminine-hygiene –aisle-wanderings. I have better things to do with my time and wiser things to spend my pennies on. I know I’m being a bit glib but only because the reality of the situation is far too heartbreaking to talk about here. I only have to lend an ear to one of my nearest and dearest to know just how real the effects of these toxins are. I highly recommend you give it some google time.
Alternatively, there is a terrific company called Toms that make organic tampons. They’re available in woolies, chem free and run by true hearts and good souls.
As for the moon cups they’re available in health food store (ala Fundies and Santos). I got mine from these guys
In your holistic lifestyle design - how can people assess their own current situation and make more conscious and holistic choices? Where is a good place to start ?
The most direct gateway to presence is through the body, being aware of the body and awake to the inner scenery of silence. The way I see it, movement interrupts the trance of domesticity and brings you right back into the here and now. Practiced in a conscious way, it’s instant access to inner peace – a slipstream in which you can step and flow effortlessly towards deeper connection and intimacy with all of life.
In the absence of having a session online, or in person, I simply suggest you pick up the ingredients for a Wabi-Sabi Well workout and start playing from home. To find the recipe, visit the site (www.wabisabiwell.com).
P.S A series of fresh mini workouts and meditations is coming soon. Stay tuned.
You live on a stunning property - tell us some of the natural & environmental challenges or choices you have made whilst living there - e.g.. getting out unwanted house mates (possums)
This property is nestled in the hills of Byron Bay. With ley lines running through it and constellations of crystal (black obsidian) underfoot. We’re surrounded by lush green and privy to a constant stream of awesome (and not so awesome guests). Echidnas, koalas, black cockatoos are cool. The ants raining down on my desk and keyboard as we speak – not so much.
When we first moved there was definitely more wildlife in the house than out. Possum bomb diving onto the roof and thundering across the corrugated iron, wild rats and the occasional unidentified fleeing object. We’ve spent night’s literally chasing creatures around the kitchen, trying to get them out the door. We learnt pretty quickly that everything has to be sealed, nothing left out and all the holes in the roof border up (thanks Adrian and Josh).
As you might imagine, the initial clean up was monstrous. A couple of cobweb brooms perished, as did untold bottles of vinegar and eucalyptus oil. We scrubbed every square inch of wall, floor and ceiling with the stuff. The house had been marinating in possum for years. As for chemical cleaning products – they don’t exist on our shelves. We have a sensitive septic and a sensitive surrounding ecosystem. I also happen to train a couple of cool cats who sell eco-friendly products (Ecomarketgreen http://yourecomarket.mybigcommerce.com) they have definitely added a little sheik to our yurt’s shabby.
Water wise we stretch our 2 water tanks to the limit. We compost, shun plastics as much as possible and heat and cool the joint with fireplace and fans. We’re also privy to a veggie garden that has a mind and a life of its own. Wish I could say we consciously cultivated our crop but they’re just a bunch of happy accidents. Cherry tomatoes, strawberries, lemons, limes passion fruits, a goldmine of turmeric and even a couple of pineapples. We have June (a past owner) to thank for that.
What would your advice be to busy people living in the city to even just a get a little sip of the country life you live?
Clean water + Fresh air + Wild Edibles
Clean Water: Most of the water in cities contains fluoride. Never heard of it? Ask google. It’s not well. My advice. Fill up at the vendors. You often find them at service stations with a big Fluoride Free sign on them. You can take a 15L jug and fill it for $4
Wild Edibles: Grow things. With your hands. In dirt. And eat them. Reconnect with the natural cycles and nourish yourself with food that’s fresh, I mean proper fresh not ‘fresh food people’ fresh. Not much of a green thumb? No worries. We aren’t either. Start small with a little herb garden and grow from there
Get out into nature on the weekends – for hikes, drives nowhere, to find fresh waterholes, sit and be still – osmotically soak up energy of the wild life around you – (it’s all about The Wilderness Effect) or what the Japanese call Forest Bathing –getting rid of the city static.
Finally ditch the idea that you’re a city mouse. If you love the big smoke then that’s all good and well. But if you feel caged in by all the concrete don’t assume that because you were born there you’re stuck doing (city) time for life. Most of our neighbors on this endless stretch of wild road are downshifters. If your heart aches for fresh air and wide open spaces take a leap of faith. You can always return if it doesn’t work out