“It is a shame for [one] to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which [their] body is capable” – Socrates
The physical body. The vehicle you were given to take you through this life and the only one you will ever have. It’s such a crucial element of our human experience – it’s literally connected to everything we do. Without our bodies, we can’t exist in the physical world that we all know and love. That’s why it is so important to take care of it.
Proper nutrition, rest, and recovery are all important components of a healthy physical body. Today however, I am going to focus on my favorite – movement.
Movement is a gift:
- It gives us the ability to move through everyday life: walking down the street, carrying a child
- It enables us to go out into the world and adventure: surfing, hiking, climbing, exploring
- It allows us to express ourselves: dancing, making love, playing charades
- And so much more…
Our bodies were designed to be the best and most complex movers on the planet. You may try to argue that an American Ninja Warrior course would be easy for a monkey, but does that same monkey have the capacity to perform graceful movements like ballet, drive a golf ball 300 yards, and snowboard down the face of a mountain? No.
We were born to move and express ourselves through movement:
I look at my little angel of niece Eliana Joy (she’s 2) and the way she loves to run, jump, dance, play, and move is infectious. People love watching her because it takes them back to a place where they were willing and able to move freely like her too. This goes beyond watching little babies dance – we pay large sums of money to watch dancers perform and athletes compete and this has been the case for centuries. Clearly, there is something deeply human about movement.
Today however, while gym memberships have increased, my opinion is that the ability to move well has become the exception, not the rule. As a whole, we seem to have become spectators of movement rather than performers.
Why have so many of us abandoned our relationship with movement?
I think it’s been a slow process of erosion caused by many factors:
- Our environments have changed: let’s face it, the way we work and live today is different. In the age of information, whether you are in the office or the classroom, chances are that you are spending a lot of time sitting at a desk.
- The impact: If you don’t use it, you lose it. When we sit all day and hold our bodies in positions that weren’t meant to be sustained over long periods of time, we feel it. We get tight, our muscles break down, our energy diminishes, and our joints ligaments just don’t feel the way they used to. Over time, we become less and less likely to push our bodies out of fear that they can no longer handle it.
- Our goals have changed: mostly out of necessity. We no longer need to be hunters, gatherers, or warriors and after college, most of us stop competing in sports. Therefore, the incentive to strengthen and train your body diminishes. Now, when it comes to movement, our goals mainly revolve around aesthetics: I want a bigger chest, I want a nice butt, I want to be skinnier, I want to be jacked.
- The impact:
- Some of us just stop moving and get soft. Fat builds, muscles dwindle, stamina disappears and the next thing you know you are out of breath after walking up a flight of stairs and in love with the shirt that makes your gut disappear. We lose our capacity to accomplish simple physical tasks that our lives demand.
- Others still move, but since the goal is aesthetics, the focus is on singular movements across one plane of motion (i.e. bicep curl, bench press). The result are big muscles that can’t really do much (i.e. someone who appears to be in great shape but can’t make it through 30 minutes of highly intense physical activity)
- Disclaimer: Again, this comes back to goals, if aesthetics is all you care about, keep doing what you’re doing. For me however, I believe our physicality is much more complex and we cheat ourselves if we never push that edge
- Our beliefs have changed: somewhere along the lines, our beliefs around movement got totally twisted.
- Where I grew up – men who were good dancers, gymnasts, or just plain flexible, were ridiculed because “that shit is for girls”
- We look at movement solely as a means to an end (i.e. move to get up the stairs, exercise to get abs) and forget that moving for the sake of moving can and should often be the goal
- We’ve lost touch with our connection between body, mind, and spirit. Often times we think of body, mind, and spirit as very separate entities and therefore we go to the gym to train our body, go to school or read a book to train our mind, and go to church to train our spirit. Without intentionally finding ways to connect the 3, they will often continue to grow in a disconnected fashion
- The impact:
- Most men I know, even the athletes, have trouble moving themselves fluidly through all 3 planes of motion. They’re also often hesitant to practice many movements because ‘they look stupid trying…’ Well how else would you expect to improve?
- When movement is a means to an end (like abs), it can become structured and repetitive. Step after step, rep after rep, over and over. That’s fine (and necessary in some cases) but when that’s the only reason you move, it loses a lot of its expressive and creative power
- When our body, mind, and spirit are working independently of each other, we are disconnected. Conversely, when our body, mind, and spirit are aligned, we hit our flow state, a state that I’ll eventually write an entire blog post about but for now…flow state is the jam. Being in your flow state is an incredible feeling because you are fully present in the moment, a place we all crave to be
I believe to my core that we should all think of ourselves as movers and shakers in a very literal sense. We all have the capacity to be amazing movers so why would we accept anything less? Why would we let our jobs or limiting beliefs get the best of us?
Now that I’ve bored you with my philosophy on movement, my next few posts (regarding the physical body…may still post some other stuff in between), will guide you through tips to get you moving the way you were meant to move. Our bodies will eventually break down and when they do, our goal should be to take it with a smile and say “I sure as hell got the most out of mine.”
P.S. Make sure you follow along for tips and training to become a better mover!
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