Your health depends on movement
The body contributes far more to our lives than just physical attributes such as strength and endurance - it plays a major role in emotions, learning and relationships. The body is intimately involved in all our thought processes, understanding, emotions and decision making. The mind and body are inseparable, from our endocrine system to the "brain in our gut" - the body is your brain!
Most need a more "anti-fragile" experience, but too often we have extremes of inactivity and lack of exertion or inappropriate intensity that sends the stressed organism over the edge. "The dose makes the poison" and it is really just about finding that sweet spot. There is exercise, and there is movement. This is not about smashing out reps and killing yourself as an enabler to continue being in denial of a delusional lifestyle. Completing a "work-out" to achieve an external goal at the expense of not enjoying the process is short-sighted and not sustainable.
All learning, no matter how abstract, is physical. “Early movement experiences are beneficial to optimal brain development.” (Gabbard, 1998, p. 1). Stop a child from moving in early childhood and see what happens to their learning capability... oh, wait?!
We have stopped moving
“In less than two generations, physical activity has dropped by 20% in the U.K. and 32% in the U.S. In China, the drop is 45% in less than one generation. Vehicles, machines and technology now do our moving for us. What we do in our leisure time doesn’t come close to making up for what we’ve lost” - designedtomove.org
Being sedentary has become "normal". A modern human has the luxury to ask why run? Why jump? Why climb? When everything is accessible, when you are not forced to move to catch your prey or avoid being prey. Most people have a disconnect between their mind and body. We work in jobs that don't require our bodies, simply sitting at desks clicking mouse buttons and tapping on keyboards. The narrative and relationship between our bodies and our movement is forgotten, not heard, ignored. We only notice our bodies when "something goes wrong" with it. We have, in effect, betrayed our bodies, ignoring and dishonouring them by using them purely as “locomotive devices" to transport the head.
What is Movement?
"Exercise is Optional, Movement is Essential". What is the difference? Exercise is a modern invention, an obligation or chore designed to give us a way out, a get out of jail free card that lets us believe three weekly trips to the gym lets us off the hook with our bodies. It is pain, rather than pleasure driven. It is generally focused on specificity and lacking in real skill development. Most exercise regimes use machines and isolated exercises that make us experts in movements that are not practical and are limited, to put it politely.
Movement is something entirely different. Movement is ancient. Movement was here first. Hunting and gathering, dancing round the fire, walking, climbing, running, jumping, crawling, lifting, swimming, fighting...even sex! These are all movements the human body is designed for. A lot of public health research now points towards needing more movement in our lives, as opposed to exercise to remain healthy. For example, no amount of exercise will undo the pathology that is sitting and remaining sedentary. And conversely, you could go your whole life without ever doing exercise but instead move as part of your everyday life and remain healthy.
A big impact on the history of the current "fitness" paradigm and thus exercise is the visual impact and imagery of the rise of bodybuilding a few decades ago. What Bodybuilders do for their sport, takes amazing dedication but unfortunately the effect on the fitness culture as a whole was that of isolation purely for cosmetic motivation.
Thankfully there seems to be a shift in paradigms. More and more people are realising that we need more than exercise for aesthetic reasons alone, we even need more than so called "functional training". We need movement.
If you train, then "train movement, not muscles". Find out what movement means to you. For most moving is being in the present, enjoying the moment. Enjoying what you are doing. You are not exercising, you are moving. Movement for movement's sake.
Special mention to these teachers. I have used their words and inspiration and any similarity is meant with the upmost respect.
Frank Forencich, Erwan Le Corre, Ido Portal
What that means to me as a 'Movement Coach' and Facilitator
REMEMBER WHAT MOVES YOU
We explore relationships - the connections, interactions and interdependence between body, community and habitat - through the lens of a movement practice to attempt to explore big picture ideas. Whether the individual or a group, inside or outside (although we prefer to Move With The Seasons), the lens of a movement practice or just movement, is a larger vehicle than most would think to explore questions (and not worry too much about the answers)
We explore cultivating a movement practice - which ultimately you will decide what that means to you - but let’s just say we have movement classes, workshops and events which cover a wide range of movement training disciplines, practices and influences, infused with my own personal beliefs and what I am currently passionate about in my own movement practice. The practice changes and evolves, having a system or method is too static for me. Life isn't static and like life, our movement practice contains patterns, cycles and rhythm and with it opportunity for awareness, adaption and harmony. But so what? What does that mean to you? Really I teach/coach nothing (shout to my friend Joseph Bartz for this phrase) and I can’t make you learn anything. I can propose direction, facilitate opportunities and give you feedback that is just my opinion.
Classes/events are are a safe space to rediscover playful and natural movement in the context of nature and the season with a supportive group. To suggest movement practices and scenarios that I hope provide opportunity to serve you as a mirror for self discovery - the potential for discovery through embodiment, discovery of traits and qualities we have and/or wish to keep hold or let go of. Exploring the relationships between body, tribe and habitat - whether a self, group and environmental (locomotive) practice - and how they sculpt one another. Does what we practice explore qualities and relationships we can carry over into life? How do we adapt to change if we don't expose ourself to variety and adversity and stick to comfort and the known? Is it useful to recognise parallels between your life and the changing seasons?
As big and bold as these ideas are, ultimately we are a huge believer of PLAY - something perhaps most adults don't realise is missing or don't think is important now they no longer are children. Helping you rekindle this often atrophied play drive for me is key to a engaging, sustainable and nourishing practice - one that is driven by intrinsic instead extrinsic rewards. An activity driven by play will make us want to do it over and over again. We can speculate play is nature’s optimal state for learning. Play is being in ‘the zone’ highly engaged in whatever it is you are doing, for me the true meaning of ‘Flow’. Perhaps there is an alternative to the chore and bare minimum attitude of exercise in a sedentary culture. Maybe we can enjoy and maybe even LOVE our physical practice and make partaking in it a pleasure. With doing what you love as a foundation, we can fill in what’s missing - the balance between a classical and romantic approach - but in a world where perhaps we are overly saturated with the classical and reductionist approach, I think we need a bit more romance!
The group - without the privilege of being involved with the wonderful people that come to classes and events etc it would be difficult to explore these relationships. Adults need play perhaps more than ever and we are good at it one we remember how. Playing together encourages positive social engagements to grow and to learn together which is vital in a very narrowly socialised, touch deprived culture. With a culture that is overly concerned with fear and shame, the support and encouragement of the group is even more crucial to rediscovering childlike qualities we admire and embrace such as curiosity, hunger to learn, honesty, open mindedness, energy, imagination, behavioural flexibility, humour and playfulness, and so on.
The truth about the human species is that in body, spirit, and conduct we are designed to grow and develop in ways that emphasise rather than minimize child like traits. We are intended to remain in many ways childlike; we were never intended to grow “up” into the kind of adults most of us have become - Ashley Montagu
We move by ourselves
We move with each other
We move with the environment
We move with the seasons
Come And Rediscover What Moves You.
What can you do?
Remove sitting in chairs - Simple but tough to actually put into practice for most. Prove me wrong! Sit less in chairs and learn to squat and sit on the floor instead (and yes it often needs to be taught). We should be able to sit on the floor in various archetypal resting postures that are our birthright, contained within the interaction of many joints and muscles. Standing from these archetypal resting postures to our full upright bipedal posture contains many integral movement patterns most have lost due to preferring the chair or sofa! GET MORE FLOOR LIVING into your life NOW.
Find out what movement means to you - Research and seek high quality movement material and never stop digesting new stuff. Develop a BS filter to discard what is not useful. Seek a teacher/coach, someone with a practice and a process. Enjoy movement for its own sake instead of external rewards.
Make movement a priority - Once you've found movement material you love, turn it into your passion and your obsession.
Movement snacks - Move more. Incorporate movement into your life, your job, wherever and whenever you can. Don't wait for your "workout" - do it now! Prevention is better than cure. Be a movement opportunist. Move, move move.
"Train movement, not muscles" - What are you training for. Muscles? Losing weight? An event maybe? Will it ever arrive?
Embodiment - Use movement to reconnect with your body and bring the body back into our experience.
Where possible move in nature - We are designed to be exposed to and move in all sorts of natural environments. Touch the world with your senses - go barefoot, even hug some trees if you want!
"Be strong, to be useful" - So once you've improved yourself, that's great and all but now what? Personal self striving alone can become stagnant and meaningless if you do not help those around you. After you have focused within, turn your attention outward to help others. You family/tribe, your community, the environment - the world. Once you have "changed your body" what will you do to "change the world"?
Play - with your children, with an adult, by yourself. Play has many forms. Most are afraid or conditioned to not see it's importance. Are you play deprived? When's the last time you wrestled, played tag or hide and seek. It is far from a waste of time. "Play like your life depended on it".