This is an article I wrote over 2 years ago about my history with the Be Activated system. I am publishing it again on this platform because I want to introduce this system to the world of aerial sports. I head up to Ohio this weekend for my fourth time going through this class and hope to start teaching and practicing it through our sport.
Before we begin the story let me explain Be Activated. Be Activated is a set of simple techniques used on the body to quickly break down common patterns of movement dysfunction and chronic pain. It was created by a South African physical therapist named Douglas Heel. Douglas travels all over the country teaching this system. Within Be Activated there are designations that relate to how your body moves and processes stress. In this article I mention being a zero - that literally means that my body had no safe pattern of movement, I was in complete shut down physiologically. The techniques we use can be painful, like working on a muscle that is knotted up - but the results are amazing.
My Be Activated story starts a little bit differently than most, way back in 2016. Honestly, when I signed up for level 1 and 2 at the urging of a friend I literally was only doing it because they wanted me to. I knew next to nothing about it except that a friend used the techniques to fix some issues for another buddy was having and that intrigued me.
I had NO IDEA who Douglas Heel was and even made the mistake of asking someone if he was from the UK, only to get the snarky reply “UM, no he’s from South Africa”. Okay, good start.
After the introductions it was time for Douglas to call someone up to be tested. When I introduced myself during the aforementioned introductions, I said that I was 3 weeks out from a powerlifting meet where I was hoping to do some big (for me) numbers, mainly a 400 lb. squat and 400 lb. deadlift. Proudly announcing this in introductions only got me on the top of the list to be the first victim to be tested for the group. I got on the table and as Douglas worked through the entire battery of tests I was not strong in one of them, not one. I was, he proclaimed loudly, a ZERO. But how could that be? How could I be a ZERO and be 3 weeks out from a powerlifting meet. To add insult to injury he asked me what I did to find strength during training, and I said that I played angry music (Marilyn Manson) and that my trainer screamed at me. So there, in the room of total strangers Douglas had my someone yell in my face like in training and low and behold my Psoas sort of held and I found strength.
I was vulnerable and only able to find strength when being yelled at..awkward.
I was MORTIFIED. I was angry. I was full of shame.
Later in the day another incident happened that is too much to go into but, suffice it to say this incident sent me straight over the edge. I got pissed. It was the end of the day and as we went to leave my friends knew something was wrong. We got into the cab to go to the hotel and I let loose. Horrible, horrible words came pouring out of my mouth scaring our poor cab driver to death. I am sure he thought I was possessed. For the rest of the night I went from “I am NOT going back there” to “I will not be denied the knowledge of this system”. It was a tense, awful, scary night. I was overcome with the shame of being a zero and had no idea that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I assumed that once a zero, always a zero.
The next morning when we got to class, (yes I decided to go back) Douglas opened up the discussion by saying “Some of you may have experienced some heightened emotions yesterday and may have found out that sadness is not the only emotion that can be brought forth. Some of you experienced joy and even ANGER”. And he looked in my direction. And all my anger melted away. I understood…what happened was simply that the system of Be Activated had unlocked a treasure trove of anger that I had bottled up and hidden way down deep inside. And it all came bubbling forth like a waterfall.
Be Activated let them loose.
I have now been to Level 1/Level 2 three times. I would not trade my experience with this system for the world. I would not be who I am today if it wasn’t for Be Activated – and that person is someone far less angry and far more able to deal with what life throws at me without shutting down.
The last four-day course I went through was before the whole world shut down due to Covid. On the third day of the training, when we were doing all the rib cage and pec work Douglas got a hold of me. He found a spot to the left of my sternum right at the bottom of my pec and he dug in. I am a bit whiney and screamy when I get worked on and may (or may not) have said some very choice words. While he was working on me he asked me to sing. At first I blanked on a song to sing but then a friend said “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. So that is what I sang and as I sang, and Douglas worked my voice got louder and stronger until it was filling the room and people had stopped to listen.
When the work was over and the song ended Douglas calmly said “Susan, I think we found your voice”
What we found was ME. The first time I went through the class we found – and unleashed – a lot of my pent-up anger. And I found a way to deal with the anger. This last time we found – ME and it has started me on a journey of reclaiming my bad ass self. I came home from that course last year and immediately started doing things for ME, that made ME love ME more than I ever have. I have always performed music for the church, and in the past have made some CD’s but now I am in the studio recording songs I want to record and going all out – full band and everything. I have taken up Pole Dancing for fitness. I have never been confident in my ability to dance or be “sexy” and Pole Dancing challenges me in both areas. It is scary and outside of my comfort zone and I was HORRIBLE when I started but I am getting better and having a blast. This year I also set a goal to finally get a 200 lb. bench press in competition. It is the only milestone for powerlifting that I have not reached yet, and I really want it.
It will be interesting to see what I find in myself the next time we are able to meet up with Douglas and take Levels 1 and 2.