Quite simply we should all MOVE much more. Exercise or fitness doesn’t have to be structured, it doesn’t need to mean classes full of determined looking faces, it doesn’t need to only take place in a gym. exercise should be fun, it should incorporate movements our bodies were meant to do – walking, running, jumping, climbing, lifting.
Our ancestors wouldn’t have had access to resistance machines or treadmills, they would walk or jog for many miles whilst hunting and would only sprint when game was located or they were trying to get away from predators. They would climb trees, hills, rocks; lift or carry food back great distances and would jump over rivers, streams, boulders. All a mixture of activities carried out over what we now know as a range of intensities but the crucial thing is that they were active.
Our bodies are not designed to spend long periods of time sat at a desk, shoulders hunched forward staring at a screen and nor are we designed to sit for hours on a couch watching TV at night when our bodies are trying to tell us its dark and we should be sleeping.
We should all move more.
Walk the dogs; walk the children to school; walk to work; take the lift; go for a walk at lunchtime; get outside and get some fresh air, get the sun on your skin and the wind in your hair and remember that we do actually have seasons and that the quality of the light changes throughout the year.
When was the last time you climbed a tree? Played on a trampoline or bouncy castle? Or what about raced from one side of the park to the other? Handstands, cartwheels? If you are like most people the answer will be when you were a kid. Why? Why are any of those things only available to children – why do we have to stop doing handstands just cos we are adults? Trust me when you haven’t done one before, learning how to do it as an adult you realise how tough it is on your shoulders!
Go play with your children or your neighbours children; play pretend, play catch, set up a mini assault course using toys, games, balls – go and have fun. It doesn’t need to cost money, the kids will have an amazing time and guess what, you are moving your body and improving your fitness!
It doesn’t matter who you are or what age you are, a fundamental part of any fitness or exercise routine has to include some resistance and for me, I believe it should include weights. For too long many people but especially women have shied away from lifting weights and when they do all you see is their pink tiny Barbie weights – we should all stop being so stupid about it and understand that to get the results we all want, you need to work hard and to get the sculpted body that most women really want, you need to get into the weights room and lift more than a pink 1kg weight!
Using resistance whether that is in the form of weights or your own body weight is key to improving your fitness levels, your strength and to develop the muscle and tone we all want. Why do women automatically assume they cannot do push ups? Or why are chin ups only suitable for inclusion in a male programme? Why is the default position for push ups for women from the knees (no matter how overweight or how fit they are) but for any guy its assumed he will start on his toes.
When are we going to acknowledge that women can do push ups or chin ups just as well or just as badly as men, we may not enjoy them (that’s me, I confess I think push ups are an evil creation but they are effective and I still love it when guys expect me to do it on my knees and I don’t!) but there is no reason why we cannot do them.
Apart from getting out there and actually moving more often we should all be taking part in some form of intense activity at least three times a week. That means getting hot, sweaty, with a raised heart rate (not what you are all thinking!!) challenging your body, increasing the intensity, progressing the exercise, changing your exercise routine or programme, mixing it up a bit. It you don’t change the exercise periodically your body will simply get used to the exercise and it will cease to provide your body with a challenge and your body will stop changing.
Since sports / games / PE are taught to all children from Primary and are a key part of the curriculum its easy to wonder why we still have so many obese children but since today’s post is my Principle of Movement I will save nutrition and diet for another day. My own view is that we narrow our children’s choices far too early and shepherd them into prescriptive organised team sports that have no space for individuality or for the introverts in us who hate team activities with a passion. Not all children WANT to play football, rugby, cricket, netball or hockey – there are so many sports out there that don’t necessitate the humiliating picking of teams so why do we insist that the only ones our children are exposed to are the mainstream big money ones? Why don’t we teach our children about fitness, about fun, about moving for the sheer enjoyment of it – perhaps if we instilled a love of MOVEMENT into our children at a young age we might get a lifetime of activity out of them rather than the usual give it all up when they leave school attitude!
Gym and Personal Trainers
Given that I am a PT it’s no wonder that this features in my Principle of Movement and notwithstanding everything I have said already I still believe there is a place for good gyms and good PTs. A good gym doesn’t have acres of all-the-same cardio machines and doesn’t shoehorn members into a one-size-fits-all exercise programme. A good gym has studio or floor space to move, to play, to explore, it has crash mats and soft flooring to encourage exploration and movement. A good gym has a range of weights, a range of surfaces and a range of low tech equipment that can be used to add to bodyweight exercises or can be used as an addition to a great programme. A good gym has a fabulous all-inclusive attitude that doesn’t push guys into weight and girls into cardio!
Hmm, can anybody count or more than one hand how many they recognise?!
And as for a good PT – for me a good PT encourages their clients to reach their potential, to understand their limitations and barriers and to push past them, a good PT can use the environment to change a routine, to mix things up. A good PT incorporates play, functional fitness, resistance and cardio into every routine without using labels (“…..right we have done your cardio now we are going to move onto the resistance training part….”). A good PT doesn’t use a one-size-fits-all policy and trains clients according to client needs, ability and circumstances – people are different and people change and so should a good PT.
Above all else, it is down to the PT to make training FUN – it should be an enjoyable experience not a trial whereby you feel you are being judged and found wanting. I am not saying all PTs do this and without doubt there are far too few out there that do but it should be the aspiration. Personal Trainers have the knowledge and the ability to help people change their lives and…..with great power comes great responsibility!!!!!!!