“Follow your heart regardless of what others tell you to do. At the end of the day it’s you who has to live with your decisions, not them.”

M. Scott Peck

Good morning peeps, meditation done.

Quote for the Day:

“Follow your heart regardless of what others tell you to do. At the end of the day it’s you who has to live with your decisions, not them.”

M. Scott Peck

I am in the very fortunate position of knowing exactly what I want to do in my life for the rest of my life and possibly even more importantly I know what I definitely do not want to do.

The last time I felt like this was when I was 19 and had decided I wanted to switch from sport and become a ballet dancer.

This was despite everyone telling me that I was too old to start ballet, black people do not do ballet and my father telling me I had to get a proper job, (on the Ghanaian side of my family everyone is meant to be a doctor, lawyer or accountant) I knew in my heart that was what I wanted to do and nothing anybody else could tell me was going to change my mind.

I had seen Dance Theatre of Harlem perform Stravinsky’s Firebird at the London Coliseum. The girls were beautiful and looked like models. The guys looked and danced like real men. There and then I decided I wanted to be a ballet dancer. And I wanted to join Dance Theatre of Harlem.

I auditioned for the Urdang Academy of Ballet and Performing Arts, which was based in Covent Garden, 50 meters from Pineapple Dance Studios. Even though I had only being doing ballet for a month, somehow I got accepted.

I was left some money by an auntie, and this, coupled with my grandma’s generosity, solved the initial problem of school fees. I left university, but to receive a grant from West Sussex Council, I had to audition in front of a central board of assessors. West Sussex only gave out two grants a year for dance. Even though there were hundreds of applicants. The board of assessors sat behind a table and, like the classic scene from the film Flashdance, I had to perform a solo to three stuffy-looking people, to earn my grant. I performed my solo, and duly received the grant. The other grant winner was a girl attending the Royal Ballet School. I counted my blessings, and began life as a ballet student.

Just after 7:30am every morning I would arrive in Shelton Street on the corner of Langley Street, Covent Garden. Often I had to wait outside the Urdang Academy until the caretaker opened the doors to let the lower school in. I would then go and change out of my suit, which I would wear over my dance clothes, and take my ballet shoes out of my briefcase. Then I’d hang my clothes up, and go outside to my wall to begin warming up. I would be wearing ankle weights, and would get as close to the wall as possible. Then I’d lie on my back, with my bum touching the wall, and then open my legs as wide as possible in a position called second in dancing, and then lie there for 10 to 15 minutes. Letting gravity and the ankle weights pull my legs and feet down closer to the floor. When I first started, my feet would be a long way from the floor, with every passing minute, every single day the gap would reduce.

Then I would sit upright with my back against the wall, with the soles of my feet together, in a position dancers call frogs. Every day my knees would get closer and closer to the floor. After sitting in frogs for 15 minutes, I would get one of the lower school students to stand on my inner thighs to increase the intensity of the stretch. Then I would do 10 raises to strengthen my inner thigh muscles, which are very important in classical ballet. By squeezing my knees together using my inside thigh muscles. I could lift the student up whilst they held onto the wall for balance!

Then I would put the top of my feet underneath the first step of the stairs and try and straighten my legs. I couldn’t at first. My feet felt like they would snap. Every day they would improve. I was beginning my ballet career at 19, when most people had started as young children. I had catching up to do. That meant drastic measures to change my body from a sportsman to a classical dancer. By the time assembly began at 8:50, when most other students were just turning up or late. For an hour I had already been stretching and warming up, preparing my body for the 9:15 ballet class.

I loved morning ballet class. Especially when the class was with the girls, and Yuri the pianist was thumping out Prokofiev. My mates from Hassocks said I must have turned gay to become a ballet dancer. I thought they were mad. To a full-blooded, heterosexual male, being in a mixed ballet class felt like you had died and gone to heaven.

There were about 30 girls in first-year classes and less than 10 boys. The girls were dressed in black leotards and pink tights with matching ballet shoes, and all of them had their hair scraped back in a bun. They looked beautiful. They were weighed every week, and would get in trouble if they had put on a single pound. (Interestingly, the boys were not weighed.) Most of the girls were slim, with fabulous figures. But the thing that struck me most about the girls when I first started was their flexibility, and the positions they could put their legs in.

I loved my time at the Urdang, dancing all and every day, hungry to learn. I had an insatiable appetite for knowledge. I was practising, reading, watching videos and going to the ballet and theatre constantly. I really was a 24/7/365 days a year dancer.

I had an amazing career as a dancer, having the best time, travelling the world doing what I loved, with lots of my friends, working with the world’s biggest stars, on the grandest stages, on television and in films, seeing places and experiencing things that most people can only dream of.

Towards the end of my dance career, I qualified as a Personal Trainer and UEFA ‘B’ soccer coach, working with Chelsea, Brighton and Hove Albion and Ian Wright’s soccer school. I regularly choreographed for adidas and Umbro, for kit launches and global conferences, working with sporting icons such as Muhammad Ali. I choreographed up to 500 children at a time for major sporting events including The UEFA Champions League and FA Cup Finals.

Other choreographic highlights included staging Beyoncé, David Beckham and Jennifer Lopez for a Pepsi commercial worldwide launch in Madrid. Working with Usher on a Master Class for the BBC, and with Jake Nava on a Nike Freestyler commercial.

And then in 2004 I was chosen to be the face of the BBC’s ground breaking Athens’ Olympic campaign, which soon caught the eye of Trouble TV’s executives. They cast me alongside Louie Spence as a fitness trainer on the hugely successful TV show Bump and Grind, which also aired in the US and I instantly became a celebrity personal trainer.

Through the millennium decade I also worked extensively in International and Domestic Cricket for the ECB and ICC. There I provided the entertainment element for the hugely successful Twenty20 cricket format, from 2002 launch through to the 2009 Twenty20 ‘Western-themed’ Cup final at Edgbaston.

I then set up my own production company under the Beyond brand.

The 2008 Twenty20 Final produced by Beyond was nominated for ‘Sports Event of the Year’ and I led the organisation and coordination of the 2005 open-top bus Ashes Victory Parade through London and Trafalgar Square with the England Team, which carrying on from seeing England winning the Ashes at the Oval the day before was probably the best 24 hours of my life, being on the bus, drinking champagne, celebrating with the players and witnessing the incredible scenes on the streets as what seemed like the whole of England was celebrating and then arriving at a packed Trafalgar Square and singing Jerusalem was unforgettable, for all who was there.

Jacob Schimmel, my good friend, mentor, client and investor gave me the brand name Beyond, a lovely office in Oxford Street and lots of invaluable advice.

Jacob is the wisest, wealthiest and most generous man I know. He is married to his childhood sweetheart, Verid, and has five beautiful children. I have trained him and Verid, and have also taught his kids dance and capoeira for many years. Verid flew me to Jerusalem to stay with her parents to complete the rehearsals of a dance I choreographed involving their whole family for her brother’s wedding. Bankers would ask me what time was my training session with Jacob so they could book a session either side of his, just to have a few passing minutes with him.

He has helped me in business more than anyone else I know. Firstly he gave me the book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey to read. Then he gave me the brand name Beyond. Next he gave me a lovely office in Oxford Street; but mostly he gave me the invaluable advice that you must always run a principle-based business. Your financial situation may change, but your principles must stay firm.

I have always tried to remember this and run my business and live my life by this philosophy, which aligns itself with yoga, where you live and give from the heart, but control your mind and emotions with your breathing.

Today of all days I especially have to remind myself of my principles and;

“Follow my heart regardless of what others tell me to do.

At the end of the day it’s me who has to live with my decisions, not them.”

And I will have to live with these decisions for the rest of my life, because what I am doing now is what I am going to do until the day I die and draw my last breath on this earth.

For I have practiced yoga and meditation everyday for the last 10 years, which has really helped me in all aspects of my life and not just my health.

The more I exercise and practice the stronger my breathing becomes and the more control of it I have.

The yoga poses and breathing teach me that if I control my breath I can control my mind. The pain and discomfort I feel in the awkward yoga poses, will go away if I breathe and stay calm. This mirrors situations in life which can seem impossible with no way out, but if you stay calm, focused and breathe then your head clears, the situation does not seem as bad as you first thought and you can see a way forward.

This is the basis of my Elysium Way Training System.

The Elysium Way enhances and enriches lives allowing you to reach your full potential physically, mentally and spiritually.

And one of the main components of the Elysium Way is practicing yoga.

If you would like to improve your breathing and clear your mind by introducing yoga into your life or to strengthen your daily practice to help you focus, smile more and achieve your goals and live the life of your dreams?

If you would like to share my passion, improve your breathing and clear your mind by introducing yoga into your life or to strengthen your daily practice to help you focus, smile more and achieve your goals and live the life of your dreams?

Why not take your first step and come on my yoga retreat in Morocco from Saturday March 18th to 25th and join me at the Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort the new five-star luxury destination in El Jadida Morocco

Click Here to find out more

The location is amazing.

It is a truly unique coastal destination resort, less than an hour drive south of Casablanca and set in a region abounding in contrasts that has preserved all its authenticity.

Rooms and suites overlook the lagoon, the golf course, the swimming pool and the patio, plunging down to the sea from the terraces and offering a 180-degree view over the Atlantic Ocean.

The view will take your breath away.

So if you would like to learn more about yoga and lose your fear of failure, come and join me for some fun in the sun at a beautiful, exotic location in Morocco, then Click Here

Have a wonderful Wednesday peeps and remember,

“Follow your heart regardless of what others tell you to do. At the end of the day it’s you who has to live with your decisions, not them.”

May all your dreams come true.

Breathe, Believe and Achieve

Be Happy, Healthy and Wise

Keep on Winning, Smiling and Living the Dream