Does your movement practice afford you better health, function, and the opportunity to have a more rewarding and meaningful life?
For the majority of people who are approaching movement from a “fitness” or “exercise” mindset, it can be incredibly difficult to check off all of these boxes.
Maybe hitting the gym three times a week generally improves your health, but depending on the routine you follow and the intensity you work at, you might actually be losing overall function because increasing strength doesn’t necessarily guarantee improving mobility, coordination, stability, etc…
At the same time, if you feel like your workout is a chore, if you don’t really feel motivated to spend time on it, but you do it as an obligation or as punishment for poor health decisions you made earlier in the week, how meaningful can that practice be to you?
How likely are you to continue that fitness practice for the rest of your life if it is drudgery?
We can see this problem cropping up by looking at the rise of obesity rates in America and comparing them to the rise in gym memberships. As it turns out, both are rising right along with each other.
We think motivation plays a huge factor in this problem. People who find physical practices that they are passionate about tend to not only have better results over longer periods of time, they also report an increased sense of meaning in their lives.
It makes sense to us that the types of movements that would be most rewarding for humans are the movements that we’ve evolved to do over millions of years. Humans are incredible at locomotion, we can move skillfully over the most complex terrain because that’s been a core aspect of our survival since the early days of our arboreal ancestors.
This capacity speaks to our deep connection to and love for nature. In the natural world, we are able to disconnect from the distractions of civilization. We can achieve a sense of self reliance and harmony with the plants, animals, weather, and geographical formations that shaped us.
We were able to survive and ascend to the top of the food chain in that environment because we are also the most skilled of all the planet’s animals at manipulating objects. We throw and catch and swing sticks and carry and craft our environment to fit our needs.
Even today we are drawn to this type of movement. How satisfying is it when something falls out of a cupboard unexpectedly and you snatch it out of the air without even thinking? Or when you toss a crumpled ball of paper into a trash can from across the room?
Layered into all of this is our love of tribe and moving with our friends. We are such a social species and for millions of years we’ve tested ourselves against our comrades in competition. We’ve danced and told stories and forged deep bonds with each other. Our community gives us a sense of identity and purpose, as well as security.
So what if you were able to partake in a practice that regularly exposed you to all of these fundamental aspects of human movement? If every day you were able to connect to the wild power inside of you and use it to forge a life of freedom, strength, and adventure?
If you built this foundational practice that spoke to your inner human, that motivated you to get out of bed each day and grab hold of life’s experiences, then the gym and those conventional fitness practices would have a renewed sense of value to you.
Rather than working out just to work out, with endless routines to hit every muscle from every angle, your practice would reveal what missing pieces are most crucial to you and allow you to focus your gym time on developing the aspects of your health and function that would directly translate back into the practice you love so much.
In our 50th episode of the Evolve Move Play Podcast, we have Kelly Starrett back on the program to talk about the importance of striking a balance between a playful and exploratory natural movement program and fitness training for specific physiological adaptations.
Just as strength training for the sake of strength training will eventually lead you to a dead end and limit you in other aspects of health and function, only approaching movement from a place of exploratory play seeking will likely not cultivate you into the best version of yourself.
It’s important to establish both sides of the practice.
Develop a foundation that fills you with passion and drives you to expand your capacities, and spend disciplined time to injury proof your body and strengthen your weak spots so that you can achieve a truly sustainable practice that brings value to your life for years to come.
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