Movement

The future of functional fitness is an evolution into functional movement.

We see this already in the explosion of more complex movement practices like parkour happening all over the world and being adopted slowly by the mainstream fitness world. Organisms are not machines, and the era of training them like machines will give way to an age of treating them like organisms, leading to longer health-spans, fewer injuries and even greater potential.

~ Dan Edwardes from, https://danedwardes.com/2022/05/28/the-future-of-functional-fitness/

Thanks, Dan! Thanks for the teaching, for the training, for conversation, for asking good questions, and for just being the sort of person who keeps showing up. Showing up publicly, sure. More importantly though, showing up to do the hard work of self-improvement. And for showing your work.

ɕ

It’s the simple things

Every time I’ve had a low-back problem on the road, it was because I jumped right into a bend and twist activity (moving luggage, picking up a kid, once it was dragging a vacuum) without being mindful of the mechanical situation my body had just been through the last few hours. The body needs a transition zone—just a little time to remind it of all the other positions it might have forgotten it could assume after repeating a single shape or pattern for an extended period of time.

~ Katy Bowman from, https://www.nutritiousmovement.com/travel-well-do-this-for-your-low-back-once-you-arrive/

In addition to some wonderful movements you’ll find therein, there’re endless movements you can find on your own. Movement to be found in a chair, or standing by a table, or with a lacrosse ball that you manipulate on the floor with your feet… Movement to be found hanging, or leaning, or endless inspiration in yoga and tai chi… There are so many ways you can move, but it seems to be too rare that people set aside time to experiment. “What if I laid on the floor and tried… ?” or “What if I took my shoes off…” “What if I stood on one leg while…” There are just so many things to try.

ɕ

The balance

Ultimately, there was a part of me that wanted to express my physicality and I wasn’t ever going to be able to do that through the robotic, linear approach to fitness. I realized that only through circularity can one truly express themselves through movement.

~ Galo Narajo from, https://motusmade.substack.com/p/issue-48-circularity-and-interconnectivity

This is taken from Narajo’s Motus Made publication over on Substack. If you’re interested generally in movement, I recommend subscribing, and there’s also an episode of Movers Mindset, Philosophy – with Galo Alfredo Naranjo. This issue of Motus Made reminded me of a conversation I heard recently (a podcast episode, The Process with Dan Gaucher from Life’s Tee Time) where two golfers discussed the balance between mechanistic and holistic approaches to coaching and learning advanced golf. In the earliest days, sure, mechanistic is necessary, but beyond beginner levels, the holistic approach has to be addressed. The balance question (they were discussing) is whether you can go all-in on the holistic? …can you ever be advanced to a point where a mechanistic approach—as a learner, or as a coach—is definitely no longer useful. I’m not sure they reached a conclusion.

And so that discussion, and question, came to mind as I was reading Naranjo’s comments.

ɕ

How did this get lost?

I have taken as my province to restore to the light the art of exercise, once so highly esteemed, and now plunged into deepest obscurity and utterly perished… Why no one else has taken this on, I dare not say. I know only that this is a task of both maximum utility and enormous labor.

~ Girolamo Mercuriale from, https://www.themarginalian.org/2022/05/10/sweat-bill-hayes/

That straight–up sounds like the opening of an Edgar Allan Poe novel about a man whose previously unheard of uncle bequeaths him a map to a dark continent . . . No wait. Giro there is talking about exercise. Enlightening installment from Popova, as usual.

ɕ

Beginnings

The situation is even worse if you have no designs on getting ripped and instead just want to build a baseline of capability, whether that’s for hoisting your toddler, shaking off the stiffness of a desk job, or living independently as you age.

~ Amanda Mull from, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2022/04/hampton-liu-working-out-pe-exercise/629696/

Back in 2011 or so, when I stumbled into parkour and Art du Déplacement, it was a weekly opportunity for movement and play. There was no goal. There was no larger point to anything that we were doing. We weren’t trying to get ripped or beat our best time running or win at anything in particular. It was simply a merry band of people getting together to play and move, and it was challenging and fun. I (and everyone else) had good days and bad days. We laughed a lot, sometimes someone cried and not too frequently there was just enough blood to demonstrate we were serious. We each faced our fears. We pushed our boundaries and were challenged and supported (figuratively and literally) at the same time. I had never experienced anything like it. Countless times I’ve had similar experiences now—no two days are exactly alike, of course—and it always surprises me just how special it can be to move and play with like-minded people.

If I’m being honest, it’s very rare that I get those experiences these days. Once a month, if I’m lucky, is about the rate. Perhaps. And just this morning we were talking about making some fresh space in our not-actually-really-that-busy lives— a bit of prioritization as it were. I should definitely follow through with that.

ɕ

The real mover

There was, however, a big difference between what he did and what we “real movers” were doing. The baseball player did not perform this moment just to perform it. The player did it to solve the problem of having to catch a screeching line drive, probably traveling over 100 mph. He then rapidly returned to a strong throwing position and volleyed that ball to first base. His movement solved a problem, and a very difficult one at that.

~ Rafe Kelley from, https://www.evolvemoveplay.com/the-4-primary-movement-problems/

A blog post from Kelley is more rare than his Evolve Move Play podcast. He’s definitely someone whose ideas resonate with me. His through-line, not just in this article but in all of his more recent work, is definitely the right way to look at things. I like the phrase “fit for purpose” and that’s a line of enquiry Kelley is often chasing down.

ɕ

Models models everywhere

Building models is a fundamental part of trying to understand the world in any systematic or organized way. The world has too many details and complexities to be taken in all at once. In order to really understand a particular phenomenon, we need to focus on certain essential details while ignoring others.

~ Todd Hargrove from, https://www.bettermovement.org/blog/2016/are-models-of-pain-accurate

I often remind myself that all models are wrong, but some models are useful. Maps, metaphors, similes, and even some storytelling are all models.

Two things top of mind: Why oh why!? doesn’t similes pluralize via -ies? (Say the singular and plural forms of smile and simile… wth English?) And second, I use a related-to-models test for what I mean by, “I always tell the truth.” (To tell the truth, I always say the thing which helps the other person build an accurate model of reality.)

ɕ

Movement

We all have a duty to look after our physical health. The body is your vehicle through which your mind and spirit travel in and act through, throughout your life. We’re lucky to have abundant information, resources, and teachers to help us for caring for our body, but without personal responsibility and action, progress is left to chance. Ancient medicine taught us to be active participants of our own health, modern medicine encourages us to be passive recipients of health. We can make the best of both by placing more attention and energy on observing our body, environment, and taking daily action to create energetic surplus through moderating stress, practicing movement, good nutrition and quality rest.

~ Soisci Porchetta from, https://www.humanpatterns.net/blog/2018/6/22/what-is-movement-practice

I suspect that a lot of people reading my musings are already steeped in the wisdom of movement generally. It’s simply nice to find things like this on the big ‘ol Internet; A large article written by someone who’s clearly thought a lot, moved a lot, and thought a lot about moving. There’s a wonderful quote that feels parallel to this article’s sentiments:

No citizen has a right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training … what a disgrace it is for a man to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which is body is capable.

~ Socrates

slip:4a342.

ɕ

Growth versus competition

With every government initiative in education there are unforeseen consequences. The current drive to build character through sport (and other activities) is having, in my opinion, an unforeseen negative impact on curriculum PE. Staffing, finances, facilities and time are being redistributed from PE provision to school sport provision. Now this might not necessarily be a bad thing, but it has to be provision beyond the current narrowness of school sport which tends to be traditional team games focused on winning competitions for the purpose of bringing prestige to the school. This reduction in PE which focuses on movement for all in favour of school sport which focuses on competition for some worries me.

~ “Sporticus” from, https://drowningintheshallow.wordpress.com/2019/06/16/the-physically-educated-person/

It’s always nice to see someone else talking about sport as a subset of movement. “PE” is so entrenched as a thing; does anyone still wonder what should physical education even be? Apparently, fortunately, the answer is “yes.”

ɕ

The why

People think of that complexity as an expression of our capacity for abstract thought. We believe our brains are so complex because of the wonders we can build in our minds. Make no mistake, we can build wonders in our minds but what we have neglected is that those wonders are boot strapped on top of motor control. The first purpose of the brain is to guide movement.

~ Rafe Kelley from, https://www.evolvemoveplay.com/the-why-of-movement-practice/

And the second purpose it to solve problems in the physical world. (How do I go over there? How do I avoid that danger? How do I get food?) To solve problems you need to be able to define what the problem is. You define any problem by imagining some desired state (I am over there. I have avoided that danger by running. I have eaten that food.) and then looking for options that can get you from the current state, to the desired state. So it turns out that the better your imagination is, the better you can be at solving problems. Faced with endless options, you mind turns out to be really good at heuristics—making estimations in advance with limited knowledge (prejudice can be a good thing; assuming snakes are not friendly is an excellent heuristic.) All of which makes possible the beauty and diversity of our lives. Fortunately, we have a capacity for reason atop all of that which enables us to make choices so the possibility of beauty and diversity can be our a reality. I digress.

Back to Kelley’s point, if the entire edifice of our minds is built upon that first purpose, what happens if we starve the mind of the physical engagement?

ɕ