Many affiliate exercise with stereotypical associations encouraged or identified by sciences and society. Science, gyms, disease risk, aesthetic appeal, health and wellness, medicine, and the like. Yet it is less than often that people look at exercise as achieving a higher level of thought. Yes, I am talking about exercise philosophy. Now, I’m not saying people do not think, or that achieving a higher perspective of the self has no been present in the likeness of yoga or tai chi, but society does not associate exercise with experiencing deep thought.
Perhaps it could be that I see many dimensions of meaning within movement due to my relevant career, but I would like to argue something more appealing to all. I have outlined steps to creating your own exercise philosophy, and some steps are related to popular beliefs and modes of thinking about exercise. So here we go; it’s time to diminish the “meathead mentality”.
The Movement Web
It’s easy to look at movement as something to check off your list, go walk on a treadmill for twenty minutes, look around you feeling isolated from society as everyone attempts to feed their egos-to-be, and then stay disconnected from the world in terms of “exercise.” But looking aside from the spiritual connectedness of eastern movement philosophies, let’s look back to science. YOU are an organism. Think about the very cellular makeup that composes every other organism; even the cell itself moves. Therefore, look at movement as life, something the rest of the world is doing. It is deeply integrated into the balance of nature, where things thrive, survive, and cease being alive all because of movement.
When you observe a plant or animal, you see movement as an integral part of their existence. The same goes for you. To rob yourself of movement is to subtract from purpose. Learn about your structure, so you may endlessly explore your nature-given function. This connectedness to all of the world, from the molecule to the man, is what I call “the movement web.” Within the web, no judgment on how you move exists; only the fact that you are, you move, and you are connected because of it.
The Capability Continuum
There is an explosion within the industry of instruction and the provision of plans. Personal training, group fitness, fitness technology, support groups, literature, media…the entire industry assumes we know nothing. I like to think this is not true, but rather people do not take time to explore what they can come up with on their own.
Imagine you are in a empty, silent forest. You are by your lonesome, and your only goal is to start moving. What do you do? Nobody is there to instruct or guide you. Nobody is telling you what is right or wrong. What most likely happens is that you just…move. But you move within your own capabilities, whether that be your mind, your body, your spirit, or a combination of all. This is “the capability continuum”, where there is a spectrum you can minimize or expand upon in order to vary your capabilities.
The power of this lies within the fact that all movement is fair game. This is when there is an unlimited amount of movements that can take place, allowing unlimited stimuli to lead to unlimited adaptations. Each and every body part, joint, direction, speed, distance, and every other variable becomes a different paint brush used to paint every piece of artwork that is your movement.
Applying this to actual performance and injury prevention, think of yourself as a tree. If you train one way, your strengthen maybe only the trunk. But if you move in many ways, or even all of them, you strengthen everything around the trunk; the branches, the leaves, the stems, the fruit. In this way, you train procprioceptors, fascial lines, periphery muscles and blood vessels, new neuromuscular pathways. Specific training is powerful, but so is enlisting all the support around it.
The Encompassing Entity
From sport, to group fitness, to fitness with a friend, the movement web mentioned earlier can be focused in on those of similar species. Yes, humans do better together. This is why Crossfit does so well: training, competing, pushing, and failing within a group mentality can compel most to do almost anything. Yet competition can easily be fruitful fruition. This isn’t difficult, it is rather simply learning and encouraging creativity through movement from all. This can be from professionals, mentors, children, seniors, athletes, laborers…everyone. Instead of competing with, glaring at, or judging others, cooperation can unite the nation. Next time, ask the person you would be least expecting to learn from, to teach you something. You will majorly suprised at the outcome.
I’ve had my grandma, the same woman with chronic knee pain, show me that I can squat deeper by driving my hands to the ground, just from playing Frisbee. When I asked an underclassman to show me a type of dumbbell shoulder press neither him nor I have seen before, he was first not confident, but then blew my mind. When I watch how a child moves, it is easier to find “correct form” and the creativity to come up with new exercises. The answers lie within all of us, not a centralized source of biased information. Stop the quest for aesthetics, and begin the journey for the collaborative.
While these are just a few philosophies, there are endless more to be created. Empower yourself and others through thought, pursue vitality, and compete only for the greatest good of all.