Transform your health and wellbeing: Will Grant from Ghetto Movement

[This article originally appeared on Twenty Something Humans]
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My alarm sounds at 6:00am. Fuck what day is it? What do I have on? Why am I up so early? It’s still dark outside as I head down to the café at North Wollongong beach to meet up with Will Grant, creator and owner of Ghetto Movement.

 

 

Blessed with a golden sunrise, we settled in for our interview. I ordered a long black and Will ordered a peppermint tea and a bacon hash-brown brekky burger. Yep, herbal tea and a burger, what a perfect way to sum up Will. He’s a newly-wed, a yogi and a business owner with a baby on the way, but his busy personal life doesn’t put a dampener on his ambitions, in fact, he’s hungry for more!

Will caught up with Twenty Something Humans to share his thoughts on health, philosophy, personal growth and working in pursuit of a balanced life, all the while chowing down on his brekky roll as we watched a beautiful sunrise over the ocean.

What were you like after high school and in your early 20s?

I was your stock standard 21-year-old. I loved footy, partying and drinking. I was a little bit chauvinistic to be honest; unfortunately that was the ‘cool’ way to be. From 18 onwards the footy boys and I had the ‘Ben Cousins’ mentality. I had insight into the world of an athlete who could drink, party and then go to a training session. That’s what a lot of us boys based ourselves on, it was so self destructive and eventually it will catch up on you. I guess you could say that my attitude towards wellbeing was pretty non-existent.

Adding to that, I was a tradie and that job really didn’t promote a healthy lifestyle either. We were emotionally, physically and mentally disconnected. There was a lot of mental pressure in that industry, trying to live up to that tough ‘blokey’ expectation while being hazed and picked on. It’s one way to get thick skin but it’s not the type of environment I thrive in.

  

How did you begin dabbling in yoga?

Between the ages of 21 and 25 I had three shoulder reconstructions. Adding to the tradie lifestyle and the ‘Ben Cousins mentality’. I really wasn’t healthy. It wasn’t until after my 3rd shoulder reconstruction in 2015 and meeting Emma (his now wife), that it all clicked and I realised I’m not invincible and that I didn’t want to keep up that unhealthy and destructive lifestyle.

When I walked into my first yoga class it was about 90% girls and it was incredibly intimidating. After I’d got the hang of it, I’d post my flows onto Instagram and one day I received a message from a mate’s Mum who asked if I would teach a yoga class. I thought, why not give it a go?

My first yoga class was an absolute disaster. I kept forgetting my words, I wasn’t too confident and was really embarrassed. I thought that was my yoga career over. Luckily, I had some really supportive people around me who encouraged me to jump back on the horse and my second class went pretty damn well. That’s when I started Ghetto. I started out teaching 2 or 3 classes a week and later this year we’ll start doing 30 classes a week!

 

How was it going into a class that was predominantly filled with females?

It was honestly quite intimidating. At first most of my mates would say things like ‘aw we know why you’re going to yoga!’ and chuckle along. But I promise I was really there for the yoga! I wanted to make sure that guys felt just as welcome in our classes as girls. That gender divide is something I’ve been really conscious of. In fact, we’re starting some jiu jitsu which is predominantly male dominated.  I wanted to flip it on its head and encourage women to get involved. Not only are women feeling stronger and more empowered from it, but it breaks down those barriers that often exist in the health and fitness industry.

Where did the name ‘Ghetto’ come from?

My mate had an old backyard gym that we used to call the ‘ghetto’ gym. Everything was 5th hand a bit rusty. When thinking about what I wanted my company to be, I wanted to be able to incorporate mobility and movement and we thought why not Ghetto? And it just kinda stuck despite some criticism.

When you’re starting out, people sometimes unintentionally give you the ‘best’ advice based on their mistakes, but you need to make your own mistakes, fuck things up and make the wrong decisions so that you’re equipped to make the right decisions later on in your career. It’s hard not to take things personally, but the quicker you realise that people want to see you succeed, the thicker your skin will grow and the more resilient you’ll become.

 

What inspired you to start a podcast? In case you weren’t busy enough.

I had been receiving acupuncture sessions from my friend. Before and after our sessions we’d have some great conversations! One day we were talking and wondered why people weren’t having these conversations every day. We thought let’s have these conversations and record them. The idea for the podcast is a modern take on philosophy. We wanted to share our thoughts and experiences and try to inspire others to have those conversations as well. So that’s how we began The Modern Monk! It’s another avenue for Ghetto, and myself, to grow and evolve.

 

How’ve you got to where you are today?

I really wouldn’t be where I am today without my wife Emma and my family. I really can’t even put it into words. So much of my time and energy goes into Ghetto and that’s an emotional investment. When you come home a bit tired and drained, you can’t always bring it. It’s made me realise the importance of the saying “you only get what you give”. Without Emma, I don’t think we’d be sitting here having this interview. We got married at sunrise at the start of the year and we’ve got a baby due in November. I’m really excited to see how a baby influences our life and adds to our relationship!

“Exhaust every opportunity to make it happen. Don’t half arse it, go all the way! Try and fail and try again…you never know.”

So you’ve got your peppermint tea and your bacon brekky burger, what advice do you have for balance?

I think people fail when they set themselves up to fail. You’re not always going to fit the idea of what people think you should be, but you have to stop and enjoy yourself. People think I’m vegan and I’ve tried it but my body didn’t respond well. I don’t believe in beating yourself up for certain life decisions. It’s important to have those quality times with your mates. I had a little espresso martini night last night and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I try to employ the 80/20 principle. 80% of the time I’m the Modern Monk, 20% of the time I’m 21-year-old Will and that’s OK.

I think it’s really important to have balance and I’m sure a baby will be a great challenge to this balancing game, but I don’t want to give up what I’m passionate about. I can’t see why my kid can’t be a part of this journey? I think that’s where we’d like to move Ghetto and I think there’s definitely a gap in that industry. I want to make Ghetto fun, healthy and enjoyable for the whole family.

What plans do you have for Ghetto moving forward?

Big plans! Last year we had our Ghetto retreat where a group of us went up the coast to unplug and connect with ourselves and like-minded people. We want to recreate this and make it bigger and better, hopefully sneaking in a little Bali retreat! At Ghetto HQ, we want it to be a one stop shop for all things health and wellbeing. We’ll be opening a little café, we’ll have some acupuncture and massage and our movement space. We’d love a huge community book shelf as well. So yeah, we’ve got some big plans!

Famous last words?

Exhaust every opportunity to make it happen. Don’t half arse it, go all the way! Try and fail and try again…you never know.

 

 

 

Images: www.ghettomovement.com and @ghettomovement.

Have We Lost Our Ability to Talk to Strangers?

Yesterday, whilst waiting for my mum to pick me up from the train station, I took a seat on a 4 person bench where a guy was seated at the other side. He had his earphones plugged in and nervously looked at me once or twice. I was struggling with eating an icy-pole given that it was so hot outside, and trying to keep my cool as my frosty fruit dribbled down my arm. A few times I almost went to start a conversation, but I didn’t… I held back and focused all my attention to slurping at my icy pole, that thinking back on it, even if I did start a conversation, he would’ve thought I was strange and completely incompetent of eating an ice cream.

Which led me to thinking… have I lost my ability to talk to strangers? By the time his mate came and picked him up and Mr (pretty cute) bench guy was driving away, I felt like I had lost more by not starting a conversation, than if I had talked to him and made a fool of myself.

A group of people I met in a bar in Edinburgh, Scotland
A group of people I met in a bar in Edinburgh, Scotland

I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t. I’m not exactly a shy person, and when I was overseas travelling, I would talk to anyone and everyone. My conscience tells me it was because I was too focused on eating my ice cream, but I think deep down, it was because I was slipping into my ‘routine’ life where I stay neatly in my comfort zone and can sit at a bench with strangers in silence and be OK with that. I also think another part of me was nervous. I remember a thought crossing my mind ‘what if he thinks I’m strange/boring/weird/any adjective.’ He had his earphones in, and his head buried in his phone, where I then reached for my phone and started aimlessly scrolling through my newsfeed so that the silence wouldn’t be awkward. We automatically created a barrier (being on another planet with our phones) that we completely blocked the potential of engaging in simple conversation.

By the time my mum had picked me up, I had already began to beat my self up for not starting a conversation with him, or even just saying hello. Because at the end of the day, the odds are we were never going to see eachother again, he wouldn’t think I was crazy or a psycho, and who knows, we could’ve had a really lovely conversation… (and then added eachother on Facebook, see eachother at the same station a week later, exchanged numbers, had a dinner date, get married, have kids and live happily ever after….) Haha OK so that only happens in movies.

2 English girls I met in Versailles, France
2 English girls I met in Versailles, France

Regardless, striking up a conversation with a stranger was something that I really liked about myself when I was travelling the world. And I met the most incredible people because of it. But I feel like I’ve fallen back into that state of mind where ‘all strangers are serial killers, trying to rob you or rape you.’ And the truth is that there are some truly remarkable people in our every day lives that we just haven’t had the opportunity of meeting yet. And starting off with a simple ‘hello, how are you?’ is a way of doing that.

This random bench guy probably hasn’t given this whole slightly awkward encounter another thought, but my not talking regret has sparked something in me that I’m determined to change. I don’t want to miss any opportunity in life. Whether it be the chance to travel someplace new, go camping, learn an instrument or even talk to a guy on a bench, and I feel that starting with a small ‘hello’ can lead to bigger and better things.

Challenge – So for the next month, I’m going to break my cosy little comfort zone and meet someone new/new people. Why? Because even if they turn out to be a bit psycho… I’ll know that I’m not crazy for not starting a little conversation.

xxx

A

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A smile is a smile by any other name

It doesn’t take much to make me smile

Oh no, not much at all

For a smile should cross your lips as quickly and as easy as remembering the tune to your favourite song.

And a smile can stretch from ear to ear or perhaps just quiver above your chin.

Maybe you hide your teeth behind your lips to try and hold the excitement in,

But for me, my crocodile smile is always on show, creeping across the bridge of my nose so that my eyes squint and my cheeks ache.

 

It doesn’t take much to make me smile,

Oh no, not much at all

A simple hello, a fluffy white puppy, a blueberry muffin or a warm and sweet coffee.

A kiss on the cheek from the ones that I love, a hug, a handshake and sunshine above.

Painting your nails a bright, bold colour, getting to the train station one minute before departure, a text from your friend to say g’day, being woken up early on Christmas Day.

Finishing a book, cooking dinner, submitting an assignment, and getting a distinction.

When my favourite song plays on Triple J, when I arrive back home and look out over the Bay, going to sleep before midnight, and knowing that when I wake up… everything will be alright.

 

Sometimes I smile when I’m happy, even when I’m nervous or trying to be brave. Some days I don’t know if I can smile because the sunshine is gone and the clouds are grey.

But I now know a secret, something that will break a frown, when someone smiles at you, don’t look at the ground.

Look them in the eye and let that smile infect you, until you hear your favourite song ring through your mind and a smile sweeps across your face.

Then pass that smile on, you never know how much someone will need it.

xxx

A

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