I’ve seen people at gyms workout as hard as they can, tongues waging and sweat pouring. I’ve seen people practice the same routine at their gym year after year with nary a thought of change. I’ve seen people lift weights on training machines while reading a book as if unaware of their physical presence altogether.
And most unfortunately, I’ve seen people finish their workout while learning absolutely nothing about themselves.
If you ask most people at a gym why they’re doing what they’re doing, they’ll shrug their shoulders and say, “I don’t know.” They learn by imitation, watching others who don’t know what they’re doing either.
Many gyms are set up with big weight machines, one size fits all. With minimal instruction and little follow-up support, gym members dutifully work their way around a training circuit, working to exhaustion, with the belief that this is a good thing.
To me, it’s like setting someone down in front of a piano, showing them middle C, then telling them to play. They bang on the piano keys and believe they’re playing music. It’s clear that they make sound but it will be a far cry from a beautiful, harmonious, sophisticated melody.
So it is with the human body. We can choose be uninformed and work the heck out of our bodies, just like banging on the piano keys. Or, we can learn about how the body should move to develop a higher quality of movement and enjoy the benefits of grace, balance and more youthful movement. Which do you choose?
Here are some important questions to ask yourself about your workout:
1. Do you know why you’re doing what you do in the gym?
2. Do you value exercise to develop the quality of your movement vs. pushing for more reps and heavier weight?
3. Do you pay attention to your posture and how your body feels while exercising?
4. Do you apply the lessons you practice in your exercise sessions to the way you move in daily life?
If you answered “No” to any of the questions, you’re just banging on the keys. You could be playing much more beautiful, harmonious music; the music of movement that flows from a sense of internal body awareness and intention.
Professional athletes know this, as do dancers, martial artists and others who study movement efficiency. Funny thing is that it’s just as important for the rest of us because without it we just exercise our worst movement habits. And, that kind of a workout ages and stiffens the body faster than any of us would like to admit.
So, to get the most out of your workout, slow down and listen to your body. Discover strength and flexibility imbalances between your left and right side. Tune in. It’s the first step towards developing the internal tools that will help prevent injuries and keep your muscles working best.
Feldenkrais Class 1 by Baby Liv: Rolling
Here’s a movement video that I can’t resist. It’s about a little baby doing what babies do during their first year of life.
Baby Liv is developing her sense of internal body awareness and learning how to move in her environment. At any age, we can learn a lot from babies.
Click the image to watch the video.