The Story (in First Person)
From a very early age (three years old to be exact), exercise became my sanctuary, a place I went to for comfort and stability. Intense and focused training became my refuge, the place I went to get away from the broken family I grew up in. Exercise had rules and easy-to-follow steps. As a young kid, these rules provided the safety all young kids need.
And so the journey began: I trained very hard in competitive sports most of my life, from swimming to tennis to crew to distance running. Each sport offered a way into the psychology of my mind and the challenge in understanding the critical mind/body connection.
Fast forward into my twenties: I am in a car in San Francisco and the car is in an accident that could have killed me. I lived. With concussion and gratitude in hand, I re-entered the depths of two disciplines at which I was already quite good: mathematics and working out.
In 1992 I began my journey in the Art of Korean Martial Arts called Kuk Sool Won.
This discipline of movement and competition became my life for the next decade, training five to six hours a day before and after work. At the time, I taught mathematics and science in the public schools and this transitioned into working for Applied Biosystems, now called Life Technologies, the mastermind behind sequencing DNA and developing the products that identified the human genome. During the early mornings I trained my body in the depths of Eastern martial arts, during the day I trained my brain in molecular biology, and in the evenings I trained my body in Kuk Sool Won.
In fact, when I realized early on that 15 minutes of “form” practice was the equivalent of a one-hour cardio and endurance running workout, and was also much easier on the joints, I gave up distance running, lost three pant sizes, developed a natural six-pack, and ate whatever I wanted. I was the most fit I had ever been in my life: my skin appeared youthful, I had an overwhelming amount of natural energy, and I had a passion for life!
Time for a baby
I knew that before I became a 4th degree black belt I wanted to have a baby. The pregnancy was quite normal and I was planning for a natural birth (because it “sounded” like a good idea). A month prior to the date of labor in September of 2011, 911 happened and it seems the world stopped. I knew that the brain was capable of taking in information (oh, that’s not good!), and transferring it to the body, (we need to fight or flee), and vice versa. But what I did not understand in detail at the time is that the body will do ANYTHING to stay alive-this is its purpose. No matter how we treat it, as the borrowed owner, THE BODY will do what it has to do to stay alive. For me this meant my entire system went into shock, my core locked down, and my body determined the world was not safe for a new baby. Nevertheless, the baby had to be born or one of us would die.
56 hours later, with my spinal column punctured, and the umbilical cord wrapped twice around my baby’s neck, my son was born and from this day onward Jungshin was born. My martial arts instructor, Master Sun Jin Su, called the hospital and gave my son the middle name, Jungshin, which has two significant meanings: 1) It literally means focused mind Jung=Straight and Shin=Spirit and it was given to my son because it was believed his spirit was focused enough to come into the world when my own body locked down. In other words, he was determined; 2) The second meaning has to do with family lineage: all of my master’s children have the name “Jung” woven into their Korean name: Jungna, Junghee and Jungkuk. My son was named Jungshin, and since my son is not of Asian descent, it is an ancient honor to be included in this family tradition.
At first I simply picked up the sword to help strengthen the muscles that support my spinal column. Not being able to walk well, and having excruciating pain when I sat up due to a spinal fluid leak, the sword became an ally in building my physical and mental strength. It was light enough to handle, and the simple repetitive cuts became a nice calming meditation for my mind.
Thus, this moving meditation coupled with a desire to regain health and strength is what Jungshin became-an exercise system with the goal of achieving maximum physical and mental health.
Over the next few years I began what is now a national and growing workout program.
We are new to the fitness industry and have been welcomed by some of the top leaders: ACSM, IDEA WORLD FITNESS, MIDTOWN ATHLETIC CLUB. Our goal is to become a world leader in health and wellness through movement. We continue to grow, and it is as though we are seven months pregnant – there’s no turning back.