In the first of a series of profiles on women living at the highest levels of health I sat down with Jule Aguirre, mind-body psychotherapist and Nia Trainer. Jule exudes an infectious combination of nurturing energy, raw power and sensuality. Jule’s superpower is movement. As a dance instructor she has a keen sense of how to move the energy in a room, to keep the emotions flowing and the mind clear.
JANE: Your website describes you as: “Your personal ‘guru’ to move”. How did your wisdom of movement develop?
JULE: I have been a mover my whole life, excelling in sports was my thing. After high school I didn’t want a job, job. I wanted to have fun. So I got a job at a women’s only fitness place called Figure World. It was 1985 in the small east Texas town of Lufkin. The first couple of weeks I showed women how to use the vibrating belts and rollers, the workout equipment of the day. Then the owner gave me a record album with Jane Fonda’s workout. I learned to teach my first class using that album. It was leg warmers and headbands and “feel the burn!” – all of that. Kick butt – that was my reputation in the fitness world. “If you want to kick butt, go to Jule’s class.”
JANE: How has movement helped you believe in yourself?
JULE: I was busy teaching my own fitness classes and had just gotten my first professional job in hospice when I met another social worker who taught Nia. She kept saying, “You should come to my class!” And I kept saying, “Yeah, yeah, yeah – someday.”
To be honest, when I looked in the window at her class. I thought, “You can’t do this. You’re not a dancer.” Lots of judgment and zero self love.
Then my body began to hurt. I was 27 or 28, the stress of my job had finally caught up with me. My personality said, “I can handle this. I can take care of it. I can do it all, all the time.” I had no idea the work load I had taken on until one day my jaw, neck and shoulder hurt so bad that I couldn’t even pull on my blazer over my shoulders. That’s when I knew I needed to do something different.
The next morning I woke up early to go to the 6am Nia class, early so no one would see how ridiculous I looked dancing. Ten minutes later I had forgotten I cared what people thought. I was overcome with the sensation of, Ahhhh…I’m dancing!
JANE: When did you realize that teaching movement for you meant not only moving the body but also moving the emotions?
JULE: It was in that very first class. It happened almost instantly. The movement and music gave me a way to discharge the emotion and stress that had been building up inside. It was like an awakening. I recall feeling grief, this feeling of “Where have I been? I have not been in my body. I’ve been in my head. My body’s been a tool for me to achieve and excel and kick butt.” And then I literally said to myself, “Body I am sorry. I am sorry that I haven’t been here.” At that moment I knew I would never go back. I had found the heart and soul of my practice.
JANE: You spend many hours a day leading people in movement. How do you manage to go in and do your thing on the dance floor and help others move emotion at times when you’re not up for it?
JULE: The most important thing is self-love, being where I’m at in each moment.
I’ve been through tough times when I’ve been teaching a Nia class and feel like I want to cry and wonder how am I going to do it. Then I think, “Am I going to put on a happy face and pretend to be the happy Nia teacher?” — “No! I just show up raw with everything, physically moving with joy, and emotionally I move it out.”
When I’m in a challenging position, real and raw in the moment and the students sense it, that’s an amazing moment. I love this work because it’s best when I’m just being authentic and thank goodness because I’m really terrible at faking it!
Find out more about Jule at juleinthelotus.com