Some of us enjoy breaking the rules or taking the shortcut, no matter how great the risk, regardless of the potential punishment, especially when for short term gains or self-gratification. After all, from an early age, we've learned that we can get away with it, without repercussions. My warning is this: Mother Nature has been at this for far longer than any of us, and she is a master serial killer, with no remorse for us and our ways. She will pursue balance, at all cost. This knowledge has caused me to begin looking at the teaching of movement and exercise from a different, more global perspective. My discovery is: Much of the pain, discomfort, illnesses and disease facing man, is of our own doing.
There are few health issues preventable or incurable when discovered early enough and appropriate habits are changed.
A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON AGING
Intuitively, I've known for some time that there's something wrong with conventional and accepted exercise norms. Nothing has driven me more than my pursuit of a greater understanding of "why do some people age and others seem to not?" That focus has caused me to think differently about my work and learn from others who, seemingly, practice unrelated work.
I'm compelled by people like Sir Ken Robinson, who "makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity" through play.
I have great admiration for Social Psychologist, Amy Cuddy, who's groundbreaking work in her book "Presence", shows us how body language (not only has an impact on how others see us, but) affects our sense of self. Ms. Cuddy encourages us to "Power Pose - standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don't feel confident –as it can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances of success".
I'm impressed by the work of Dr. Joan Vernikos, "research scientist and former director of NASA’s Life Sciences Division, (who) presents a comprehensive explanation for why (we) are so unhealthy" - our obsession with sitting and lack of awareness, and how gravity is either our savior or destroyer.
I've learned a tremendous amount from my mentor, Dr. Eric Goodman, "founder and creator of Foundation Training, a body weight based exercise system that is changing what was believed to be proper human movement".
And, I'm inspired by Ido Portal, who's "Movement Culture" has influenced the entire fitness landscape, causing nearly every movement modality to rethink what it calls "movement".
Image courtesy of idoportal.com
Because of all of these people, and several more, I can no longer talk about exercise without talking about aging and the effects of gravity, too. In that way, to my mind, much of the public confusion over what is right or wrong - is because many refuse to understand, they are all talking about the natural order of things. The laws of nature. There is no right. There is no wrong. Only, what is your intent? And, who's teaching it to you?
NATURE FINDS EXTREMES INTOLERABLE
The militarization of fitness should be left to those in the military, or in certain circumstances, elite athletes and other competitors. The rest of us don't have the body awareness essential to sustain training under those conditions. Nor do the athletes, for that matter. Even they have an offseason and use their collective bargaining agreements to negotiate for lesser workload, allowing them to recover from the constant physical and emotional stressors.
Can I move well? What are my movement patterns like? These, and more, are the true fitness tests. Not, how many reps can I do? How far can I go? There is a time and place for those questions. Just not at the time or place that many of us think.
I disagree, for example, that a typical fitness evaluation begins by asking a person "how many pushups can you do?" Or, "how long can you sit against the wall?"
To my mind, it is more appropriate to initially gauge a person’s mastery of the elements of the pushup (pushing) or the wall sit (squatting). Unless, of course, one thinks that fitness is based only on how many reps of an exercise one can do. That's laughable.
The problem with the, far too conventional, methodology is that it ignores a fundamental fact: We already know that not everyone starts off from the same place, with the same skill sets. Do we still believe that the only thing that will move our fitness needle is more reps? If that be the case, it's time for a new perspective.
What if I asked you to instead be more resolute to change your perspective on fitness before beginning your next workout? The way that we think about fitness is the major barrier to improved fitness. And yet, we endure and persist.
When working with my clients, I ask them, "how can I get MOVEMENT to be closer to the front of your mind, every day?" For too many of us, exercise is either a competition or a spectator sport. Where does everyone else go to improve their fitness?
Our task-oriented culture is a big part of the problem. Complete the task, check it off, move to the next. Fitness doesn't work that way. It's a constantly re-setting endeavor. When we forget to move, we begin to lose fitness. That's the deal, and there's no bargaining with it.
Movement is what we need to experience more fulfilling lives. That is the common message of Ido Portal and Sir Ken Robinson. The same goes for Dr. Eric Goodman and researcher, Amy Cuddy.
The next time you go to the gym or studio, consider - instead of how many sets and reps your about to perform - the relationship that you want to have with your body. Certainly, it does require considerable effort to be thoughtful. Ask yourself, right now: How do I sit, stand, squat, walk or jump? Ask yourself those same questions the next time that you go to the gym. The answer to those questions are also the answers to improved fitness.
Now, you've created your very own MOVEMENT FOR MOVEMENT - where sets and reps will be the last thing on your mind.