When I was in high school my "play brother" used to plead with me to ask our gym coach, "How do I reduce the calf muscles in my legs?" When I got to junior college I ran track, and many times I worked out with our football team. Often the football players would ask me to show them how to get their own calves to the size that mine were. Over all, I was in the best physical shape of my life!
When I moved to Atlanta, I stopped working out. Gradually my muscle tone turned to flab and I became one of the many impostors of good health that are in our society today. There is an impression in our society that if an individual is thin, they must be in good shape.
The interesting thing is that when we get out of shape, it takes twice as much effort to motivate ourselves to get back into shape. We may start a new year off with the plans to join a gym, or find other outlets of physical fitness. For some, like myself, those plans never materialize. Others will join a gym or start their workout only to stop within six weeks. And a few good, faithful souls will continue and achieve their goal of absolute physical fitness. This part of my article is targeted at those of us who are HIV-positive or HIV-affected, live in the Atlanta area and meet the criteria for lack of physical fitness.
Whether your excuse is not enough money or time, or that you just wanted to go somewhere where your needs as an individual living with HIV are understood, you have run out of excuses. Last year, I received a call from my good friend Brandon Abernathy, who asked if I would be willing to speak at the grand opening of Absolute Wellness: The Brandon Ross Abernathy Community Center (BRAC Center). It was named after Brandon in recognition of his nearly 20 years of successfully living with HIV. I was extremely honored by this request. On December 1, 1999, I joined fourteen other individuals who represented our community in cutting a piece of the ceremonial red ribbon and spoke briefly about this wonderful center.
In January 2000, the BRAC Center opened its doors to provide services to the affected and infected HIV community. They offer a myriad of alternative/complementary therapies that include a fully equipped gymnasium for exercise, fitness and aerobic classes, chiropractic care, massage therapy, acupuncture, yoga classes, Reiki and Shiatsu touch therapy, mental health counseling, spiritual counseling, dance, art and music therapy. The services and programs are administered by professionals from their respective fields who are volunteering their time and expertise. The best part of this is that all of the services of the BRAC Center are offered at no cost to their members. To become a member you must be referred by your AIDS service organization.
The BRAC Center is in Atlanta, conveniently located at Lindbergh Plaza, 2581 Piedmont Road, Suite A-100; Atlanta, GA 30324. They are right down the street from the Lindbergh MARTA station, and just off Ga. 400 and I-85. If you are not sure that this place is right for you then please read the following testimonial:
"When I was diagnosed with AIDS in February 1990, I knew that medical science would not save me. For the long haul, as it is now proven, I would have to integrate alternative and complementary therapies into my medical treatment, and work daily on the triad of health. I knew the benefits of supplements and herbs, and I quickly learned the importance of chiropractic adjustments, yoga and meditation in improving my sense of well-being and in increasing my T-cell counts. I was referred to an acupuncturist by my physician because of severe drug-related side effects. The expenses of all of these alternative treatments became prohibitive. I began to juggle which treatment I would use which month. This was when I realized the value of each and every one of my 'alternative' treatments. They all complemented my health regime and having to pick and choose was not a comfortable option.
"Maybe this is why I have never given up my dream of a wellness center at no cost for my peers. What the center means to me is that I will never have to sacrifice an optional treatment due to finances, and I will be part of a healthy community. I have had difficulty understanding an old Eastern idiom: 'Health is a function of participation.' I now understand this, and see that being part of a safe and supportive community is a function of the spirit and mind connection of the body, mind and spirit triad. When all three coalesce, healing happens."
-- Jim Faulkner, Executive Director
If you are still unconvinced, then give the BRAC Center a call at 404-264-9011. In re-evaluating why I have been unsuccessful in achieving my goal in the past, I realized that I was not making an appointments to take time out for myself each week. I found that I am usually very good at keeping appointment for business and my medical providers, but when I fail to schedule time out for myself, I fail to make myself a priority!
In next month's article, my topics will be "In Search of a Good Pharmacy" and "Tapping Into the Resources Within Myself."