Movement: Reframing exercise in the lockdown era
Director of Life Rocks
COVID put a real dampener on some people’s routines. Luckily, I have my own home gym, but for me, the gym is a temple, a place where I go to pray. Today, I am going to share with you how to turn your own exercise routine into a sacred calling that keeps on pulling you back in - even when the gyms close. When the rug is pulled on our routines, we get to see what was stable, passion-fueled, and meaningful to us and what was just drifting with us, ready to fall apart. For people to have a lifelong connection to an exercise habit, it must come from the right place internally. Why do we move? If the only reason we have is “because gyms and running on pavement is what other people seem to do”, then our habit is close to falling apart. Following the crowd can get us so far, but finding an internal drive for exercise is what will have us still grooving into old age. So, let's take a dive into forming a better mindset and awareness around exercise so we can develop better habits. First of all, the word exercise is terrible. The definition is basically “ activity requiring physical effort that improves health and fitness”, and this is a terrible definition because exercise ought to be so much more. Movement is a better term, because it includes all the various movements that we perform in life and points us in a clearer direction towards the challenges we modern humans face. Basically, modern humans are typically sedentary, but movement is life. All of life is always in motion, and stillness is the illusion. Everything we do is a movement, and depending upon the variety, complexity, skill, timing and volume of movements we perform – so our body will reflect these movements. Did you know that most modern humans do not lift their arms above their head in a day? This is because our movements have adapted to the modern life we live, where everything we need is conveniently within reach at torso height. To expound upon this further, here are some movements that modern humans do regularly: Sit, stand, lay down and walk. Now, for some contrast, think of movements that must be performed in an outdoor wild context: Twisting, crawling, lunging, squatting, jumping, running, balancing and climbing. Modern humans are starved of movements that our ancestors performed regularly. So what do we do about it? What do you enjoy? Not what is “healthy for you”, but what do you love to do? Is it hiking? Dancing? Rockclimbing? Surfing? Acro-yoga? Martial arts? Circus skills? Gymnastics? Racing horses? Cycling? Whatever interests you is a gateway into passion-fueled movement. Whatever we have passion for takes away the need to do something because it’s the right thing to do and replaces that obligation with a desire for something that is fun and lights you up. Somehow, western exercise culture has made human movement almost a totally solo experience, yet historically, movement was done together. In a class, group or even with a buddy – there are other benefits to be found that also contribute to our health. Social feedback, learning, accomplishment, and competition – these all contribute to our state of well-being. When we do things that we enjoy, with people that we like, in places that are fun or challenging, we create a network of experience that has much more gravity than the treadmill at the gym to keep us coming back for more. Remind yourself today: the world is big and full of wonderful things to do. What is that bucket list movement-based activity you have been putting off? Make some plans, and start moving towards it. Movement is life. Expansion of movement is expansion of life. Do not limit yourself to a mundane routine; create a life that inspires you to keep on living it.