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Steve Ilg: Sweatin' the Spiritual Stuff
Lessons in Becoming a Wholistic Fitness Warrior

Steve Ilg photo by Wayne Williams "There's no difference between spirituality and sweat."

Steve Ilg has just summed up the philosophy of Wholistic Fitness in one brief sentence. For Ilg, a Tarzana, California-based author, athlete, coach and Yoga studio owner, the separation between body and spirit has never existed. One enriches the other. At least that's the way it is in Ilg's world. Elsewhere, in the world of long car commutes, fast food and lethargy, it's more common for the body and spirit to be at odds with one another, for each half to be in perpetual denial of the other. Perhaps it's no accident that in that gloomier world, there is generally very little sweat.

(Article continued below.)

"In Wholistic Fitness," Ilg continues, "we see sweat as a karmic acid burning away negative tendencies and patterns that we've become addicted to."

Ilg's Wholistic Fitness program, as its very name implies, is all-encompassing. It creates and nurtures fitness in body, mind and spirit. Ilg's latest book, Total Body Transformation, is a manual on how to become a Wholistic Fitness Warrior. The physical aspect of the program is demanding — it requires a commitment of time and fortitude. You will be challenged to achieve new heights in strength, cardio and flexibility — and in integrating all three. Those who follow this program will become more physically fit than they have ever been before. But the strength training, Yoga and cardio activities outlined in the book are only one part of the equation. Just as important is the nutritional aspect — Ilg invites you to discover a new appreciation for fresh, whole foods. Even more important are the mental and spiritual aspects of Wholistic Fitness. The program outlined in Total Body Transformation not only includes meditation, it also involves spirit exercises such as the "Early Morning Cleaning Ritual," which combines mindfulness with housecleaning, "Periodic Renunciations" — donating unused or unappreciated belongings from a perspective of gratitude and abundance, and "cardio commuting" by biking or walking to work or to run errands. This is where you'll find the real soul of Wholistic Fitness — and some of its toughest challenges. Challenging, because it's all too easy to pass over these simple requests. But if you skip them, you're not only missing the point of Wholistic Fitness, you're cheating yourself out of the kind of life-enriching transformations this program was meant to accomplish.

From the beginning of his fitness career, Ilg knew that something was missing from traditional workouts. Total Body Transformation by Steve IlgWhen he first began seeing clients, "my job was to design a strength training program for them. Well, the people I was working with — it was evident that they needed more than strength training in many cases. The last thing they needed perhaps was strength training. A lot of people were already overweight, were already kind of muscle bound. They were lacking cardiovascular fitness, they didn't have flexibility. It was like I was doing them a disservice, limiting their notion of fitness to just the gym. It started to make complete, utter common sense to me that you can't just do one practice. You need the five fitness disciplines of Wholistic Fitness — the strength, the cardio, the Yoga, the meditation and the nutrition."

Once Ilg began integrating all this into his training, he saw some remarkable results — "I could train athletes to win really big level competitions. I trained myself to reach those same levels." Ilg is a champion in a wide variety of sports, including extreme skiing, road cycling and orienteering. Amazingly, his greatest achievements came after an accident in 1983 in which he broke his back while mountain climbing. He healed himself without surgery — an accomplishment in itself.

Although Ilg's training was light years beyond what it had been before, there was still something missing.

Page 2 >> The Warrior's Way

Photos of Steve Ilg by Wayne Williams

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