Bounce Back

March 12, 2024

Insights from Simon Bennett, Founder: Archetype

I found myself in uncharted territory in 2015, shortly after my sister passed away at 39 years old following a long battle with Cancer. As with most of my peers in business and athletics, I considered myself to be resilient. I was considered a leader both on and off the field, in my family, my martial arts studio, the entrepreneurial community, and in my business. I was supposed to protect, defend, and be a source of calm when under pressure. However, shortly after she passed away, I crumbled. I felt that I had failed her, and we were all left in a state of desperation clinging to pieces of the wreckage as the storm raged all around us. I was tested for the first time in my life.

The word "resilience" has become a Covid-era buzzword - who hasn't been invited to a talk, seminar, or program on the subject? Ultimately, the word has different connotations for different people.

Over a decade ago, I had the privilege of getting to know Simon Bennett and he has since become a very close personal friend. Simon was (and still is) recognized as one of the leading fitness experts in Canada, acts as the High Performance Training Director for the Edmonton Oilers, and is considered to be a pioneer in the fitness industry. After years of planning, in 2019, Simon founded and launched Archetype - a beautiful, state-of-the-art, first of its kind gym and training facility in the heart of the Ice District.

As it relates to “resilience”, Simon prefers to call it "bounce-back". It sounds better, friendlier, and less arduous to us. Simon defines bounce-back as follows:

"To return quickly to a balanced condition after a set-back, challenge, or time of adversity."

According to Simon, ALL of us have a certain degree of bounce. Small annoyances, inconveniences and frustrations all require it to a certain degree. However, ask yourself this question: How would you respond to a major set-back? The death of a loved one. Financial ruin. A massive injury. A career blow-up. Take a look around you, there are examples of people everywhere who simply can’t bounce back from the big-events in their lives. Perhaps they thought they were impervious to disaster. Most of us suffer from the blindness of “that will never happen to me” syndrome. Then we are blindsided, like I was when I lost my sister, and we become overwhelmed and deflated. Our deflation manifests in many forms: bad habits, the bottle, drug addictions, unhealthy decisions, states of depression - you name it.

In scientific terms, according to Simon, “there are two opposing forces in all natural systems: catabolic and anabolic. Catabolic forces break us down, they have a negative energy currency, they erode our resources. Anabolic forces recharge our energy sources, supplying us with resources to re-generate and recalibrate our systems back into homeostasis and balance. These states are controlled and regulated through a sensory and neural network system known as our body’s nervous system. This is technically known as the sympathetic, and parasympathetic nervous system.”

Homeostasis is the ideal, that zone in which we are most effective and efficient... but it is rarely a constant reality. There's no escaping the challenges and disappointments of life, and most of us will experience a few unexpected, massive hurdles, challenges, and setbacks. A few of us will experience tragedies.  

So how can we actually prepare ourselves? What can we do to increase our ability to bounce-back, both from the small inconveniences and the huge disasters of life? What separates those of us who seem to remain calm and balanced under massive pressure, versus those of us who crack? Here are a few of Simon’s suggestions, many of which have served me extremely well since I’ve lost my sister, and through subsequent so-called “bad” events in my life.

Assess your gaps: Find your weak links. What sets you off, physically and mentally? What negative habits and patterns have you developed in response to stressful situations? How does your physical body respond to adverse events (i.e. tightness in the chest, shallow breathing, poor sleep etc.)

Practice failure: Push yourself to max and beyond. Pick any exercise and push well beyond your limit to determine how you respond to stress. Notice your thoughts, do you self-sabotage, berate or demean yourself when you are facing difficulty? Or do you look to encourage, inspire and believe?

Practice the long-haul: Hike, bike, run or paddle for a LOOONG time; well beyond your daily 5K walk. Notice what happens… a self-induced long, hard effort will present a micro-example of how you might respond to an unexpected long hard effort. Notice, document, learn.

Breathe: Learn how to breathe diaphragmatically. Download a breathing or meditation app, practice nasal breathing through one nostril at a time, conduct a BOLT breathing test.

Recover: Learn how to recover, how to sleep, how to incorporate actual rest so that you can allow your body to return to homeostasis. Draw on these recovery tools when you get blindsided.

Move: Build internal strength for spinal stability, improve your postural health, add variability to your exercise program.

Connect: Build a network of close, inner circle friends, mentors, and confidants. Learn to ask them for help, learn to be vulnerable.

It’s time to BOUNCE.

For more information on how to incorporate “bounce back” into your life (for individuals and groups), contact me, or reach out directly to Simon Bennett at Archetype.

And if you are interested in an Experience Pass to check out Archetype for a workout, group class (spin, boxing, yoga) or recovery session please contact me directly.