Friday, March 22, 2019

Paradigms Shifting: Coordination and "No Pain No Gain"
Paradigms Shifting: Part One.
Coordination and "No Pain No Gain"
(updated March 27, 2019)

Most of us became aware of the "no pain no gain" mantra by experiencing the burn, amarite?  But the mantra has become somewhat of a dumbed-down trainer because it doesn't apply to every type of training as was thought.  We now know there’s more to strength than working out the burn.  Cross-training is the building block that rounds out an athlete's program.  Because cross-training diversifies movement patterns to keep the body strong, it demands a change up from the usual.  But sometimes, cross-trainers still drive into the familiar paradigm that falls back into the easier "no pain no gain" formula, with a wider variation of injuries, more wear and tear. 

Now enters the more difficult concept to grasp, mind-body training, found in Pilates, Gyrotonic, Yoga and Dance, to name a few.

Mind-body training is a bit of a turn around from the grunt fest heard in gyms.  Not that there’s anything wrong with it.  That's just louder training. Yet at the same time may suggest an overuse of the valsalva mauever which is a bad sign for heart health.  Not all “no pain no gain” workouts require grunting.  Even mind-body training realizes “no pain no gain” strength as it relates to the goal or goals, what the student or client is training for, say a mini-shirt or a triathlon, or both.

Mind-body training is not really new but its package of Pilates, and now Gyrotonic, has caught on in fitness and sports--dancers were way ahead on this track.  More than a conditioning gateway though, it has entered mainstream Rehab.  The extent of its presence is where many of the “no pain no gain” ideologues and deniers of "no pain no gain" find themselves in front of a mind body teach at the behest of their battered and betrayed orthopedic surfaces. Otherwise, referred by their very clued in doctor.
Mind-body requires thought and attention. The art of listening, awareness, learning to translate your own feedback responses during movement, or exercise, or even in stillness.  It requires learning from your mistakes and correcting them, with the help of knowledge, and relating that knowledge with each fresh practice.  It requires noticing if the message you sent from your mind has made it to your body. In other words, it’s the taboo word, COORDINATION.  Yes, mind-body training requires coordination. 

So, most people are totally freaked out by the idea of coordination, saying things like “I’m not coordinated, never have been.”  Not always but usually, inferring “and I never will be”.  Some jerk in the past labeled you as uncoordinated. If you leave the barb in your brain, it blocks your ability to move, in the end you hold yourself back. The ability to learn is crucial.  Each individual, student or teacher, benefits from learning something new especially from a positive teacher.  Keep in mind the idea that it is only within you, yourself that the ability to coordinate is experienced. 

Truth is we coordinate all of the time.  No one takes note, or gets credit unless someone is doing twenty back flips in the air at one leap and can land on a dime. Even then if that gymnast breaks the momentous landing with a centimeter hop, well the Olympic panel delights in a barrage of both criticism and pity for the loser.

We cannot fly without wings.  We can however play with gravity in the most unique ways, fun ways, as simple as balancing on one leg, as complex as a football player, as lyrical as a dancer, or as stunning as a martial artist in a wheelchair.
So without going into motor learning, suffice it to say, for the teacher and the student, remember, three cues max are just about all the mind body can handle at once. In the beginning though make it less than three, keep it fun and attainable, without cue overload or overlord.  Even the most genius learner needs to make mistakes.  All in all, it only  takes a little time to understand the physical problem of motion that requires commensurate solution. 

A good teacher will certainly understand to limit the use of the word coordination until some mastery is attained. It's unimportant to name it and better to experience it.

A good teacher improves by listening to the student, and a student improves by listening to a good teacher.

It’s an amazing time to be alive.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Snap. Crackle. What Was THAT?

Snap. Crackle. What Was THAT?
US Navy 090611-N-3271W-012 Local area children test their fitness skills during a Junior Seal Fitness
A Disclaimer: It is wholly beyond irresponsible to be a person in the USA, in a position of power, a "leader" in the free world, with a microphone to spout from as an authority on exercise, to disparage and discourage health in the minds and body of the populace. There are real professionals who have dedicated their careers and their lives to inspire people toward health and well-being.

There are millions of Americans who have activated themselves to counter obesity, adult onset diabetes, depression, fatigue, poor nutrition, cardiovascular disease, sheer laziness and countless other unhealthy behaviors through exercise, fitness, sports, dance and movement.

Countless perks are found in a regular fitness program: your heart pumping, breathing fresh clean air, drinking fresh clean water, moving with the feeling of strength and support in your own muscles and bones, harnessing your mind to achieve something difficult, burning calories, shaping up into a happier some body, and building friendships and esteem. Our bodies need to move. Our bodies are designed to move, really move and feel good, really good. Thing is we have this mind. And the two need to be synced up to play, to enjoy exercise, movement, fitness. It takes access and healthy motivation. You got to sweat it out sometimes. Other times, it's a walk through the park. Movement is life. Just keep moving.
Walking on Besseggen.jpg
While movement is natural for our bodies, the concrete jungle, indoor air, long flights, sedentary desk jobs, fried food sugary diets are not so. Usually a top priority for adults is a good paying job, taking care of their family, good education and vacation. Fortunately for Americans, work days leave time to get up, move and exercise. But sometimes it gets pushed further and further down on the importance scale. Meanwhile the body weight can scale up. Exercise and movement hopefully will never land on a "to do" list. But it might.

So the mind and body get out of sync. The body's natural request for exercise gets stuffed down with cheetos and coke. After even a week out of sync, movement and exercise won't feel natural. Over a longer period of time, laziness sets in. Then there's no play in movement. When the play is gone, two things can happen. (Actually more than two things can happen, an infinite number of things can happen, but won't be mentioned here.) Those two things are: one, it hurts to move, and two, you can get hurt when you move. It hurts to move because the natural request of the body to move has been denied, stuffed down, overrun. And, you can get hurt when you jump off the couch or out of the chair for the same reason. Functionally, you're out of touch.

That's why there are so many pro-fitness trainers, dance teachers, sports instructors, Pilates, Gyrotonic, Yoga, Martial Arts teachers and classes to guide and instruct exercise and movement. It is an investment in your health, well-being and longevity to learn how to move well, train well and exercise. It feels good to learn. Its enjoyable.

What Was THAT?
Then there's the sound imbalance begins to make. The creaking, cracking, snapping, clunking, popping, sounds you might hear when you move, is a diagnostic language of sorts. Not understanding what it means and sometimes understanding what it means, denial is the first tool out of the box. The problem is that denial is a short term tool at best. It's good to know when it's time to take proactive inquiry. It's vital to know when denial is ruining your game.

This topic is reminiscent of The Tappet Bros., Click and Clack, the entertaining radio show hosts of "Car Talk". People would call in to ask about the noise(s) coming from their cars. One brother would ask, "What kind of noise is it?" The caller would mimic all the various sounds. And the Tappet brothers would discuss the sounds with great fun, knowing precisely what each sound referred to in their diagnosis of the automobile. Their shows were always kind, helpful, knowledgeable and comedic.

Mustang fastback
Though the human body isn't a car, the vehicle metaphor is convenient way to understand its complexity. But keep in mind the body is a curious mystery, organic, highly complex and biased, practically a giant water bubble, with, at times, a "mad monkey" mind, shaped by gravitational forces and dependent upon this earth.

To know for yourself if the sounds you hear in your joints have some meaning, think of this. How does your car sound? Exciting? Or does it sound like it's going to blow a gasket? Is there hissing where water in the radiator should be? Do you hear clunk, clunk, clunk, like there's a bolt or two loose or missing? Does it sound like metal on metal? Are you waiting longer, rolling dice to hear if your engine will turn over? If so, you better get to your mechanic.

For the human body, joints might go "pop" and tendons "crack" during warmup; then will quiet down. A warmup gives your muscles time to heat up and stretch so that tendon position over the joint is optimal. The warmup improves biomechanical alignment too, keeping wear and tear of the joint and tendons in check. The synovial joint fluid is viscous. So it needs to heat up to be more responsive. Cavitation is the technical word for the "pop" sound you hear. Generally not a cause for concern. Point is, don't skip on the warmup too often.

If the joint(s) continue to snap and it hurts, and there's pain after, and you've denied it happened, and it still hurts, set yourself up for success. Check in with your orthopedic doctor. Get pointed in the right direction. If you're young or old, go right away. Most likely R.I.C.E. will be the remedy. Additional instruction on biomechanics, balancing right to left muscles, joint strengthening which is different than a muscle builder physique-technique. It's practical. You'll be good to go and happy in the long run.

If even after warmup, the joint(s) snap each time you repeat a movement, it implies a weakness surrounding the joint. This is due either to improper biomechanics and/or to a shortened, usually weakened, muscle crossing the joint complex. It's important to address that by working with a professional for a bit. Especially if you desire to reduce the wear and tear of the tendons and the joint. Point here is, keep up the frequency of a cool down and stretch after your exercise.

Clunking sounds are never good. Clunking sounds and swelling, even without pain is no good.  A clunk sound requires all of the above with a greater imperative. The clunk sound is the sound of deterioration. The articular surfaces in the joint are wearing down.  Eventually, if ignored, the cushion ceases to exist.  The joint becomes bone on bone. Once the clunking begins, hoping it would just go away is not the correct application of denial. It hasn't gone away, and it won't. Time to get real. A professional or two can give you a few scenarios of the next step in the right direction. If you listen well to their guidance, you can enjoy high level movement, exercise, sports, hopefully avoiding surgery. These days sportsmedicine brings in so much mind-body knowledge that even if surgery is required, recovery is dramatically improved. It's more expensive, requires more downtime though. However, the protocol for rehab is to get you moving again asap, with greater knowledge and balance. Point is, the mind and body can't be disconnected for too long.

Two dancers

Friday, November 18, 2016

Fatten up for the Holidays?

Fatten up for the Holidays? 

‘Tis the season for emotional-eating, over-eating, over-drinking, sugar, fat and fried foods. Oh My.  

 Your plan-pact must be made by and with yourself before you go in.
Here are TWO strategies to remember, plus one bonus point. 

Hors d'oeuvre plates
1.  Be present. Enjoy your choices.
Effortless. Simple. Yes. Luxurious…hopefully.

But, does that mean you really need to treat yourself to death?  Okay then.  How about first pick the protein rich treats?  These days, appetizers are everything you want them to be, small bites, nourishing and delish.

The empty high calorie treats are the ones that keep you hoping, bite after bite, that the next one will somehow give you more oomph, more satisfaction.  It's only after eating the whole tray, practically, that you realize they were tasteless. Then it all just gets uncomfortable, which is not luxurious at all.  Those empty calories are not free.

2.  Moderation, the best of both worlds...
Try it on for size.  Remember, how you’ve worked your ass off (literally) from last year's binge?  You’ve already invested your time (scheduling, getting there and doing the exercises). The sweat-equity you put in, burned off most of last year's calories that would have otherwise declined into hefty storage sites.  Sure, a restart to your program is ALWAYS a good plan (New Years Rezo).  But don’t make it harder for yourself now if you don’t have to. 
Exercise, sportsperson, interior, Exercise Equipment, wall-bars Fortepan 11833

Hold off on those empty calories as long as humanly possible.  If those fried pork rinds, donut holes and cookies are stashed around the office, move them into one location that doesn’t require a frequent visit. Out of site, out of mind.

This year if you had to eat from the automat too much, or eat from the road on one too many business trips, this is a little quick-fix secret for the high social season.  Spandex.

Shapewear (spanx, instaslim) helps you feel the edges of your body again—which makes you feel good and look good.  The high-tech spandex layer seconds as a feedback monitor too:  if you feel like you’re “gonna bust”, stop eating.  And start drinking?  Well…then you might end up falling on the floor.  You’ll pay for those empty calories one way or another.  Sparkling water anyone?

Bodypainting (14921496946)
Quality Sleep.
Late nights, early mornings, where lack of sleep accumulates and doesn’t support your healthy choices.  Bad, and not in a good way, bad impact on your metabolism and on your mental health.  Sleep deprivation leads you straight to those high calorie items for a short boost, but still leaves you feeling tired.  Rest up.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Bruce Lee's Ping Pong Fu

Bruce Lee's Ping Pong Fu

Adding a twist on Olympic Ping Pong

Friday, April 15, 2016

Feet speed and agility

If you have feet, don't take them for granted.

We use them without thought most of the time.  But remember, a foot injury can change your world.

The discussion of power-force generation for speed and agility is a good one but tries to truncate one body part use without the other.  Here's an interesting Q&A link about "Quick Feet and Agility Drills".  As difficult as it is to think outside the box, with the popularity of Pilates infiltrating the dance, fitness and sports performance domains, the box is slowly changing shape into a global training perspective.  In 21st century training, squaring the circle is not optimal. 

This "Bulgarian" lunge is remniscent of Joe Pilates style Russian Split.  No we don't do Pilates...

Pointe shoe wear
We see how the sports industry is evolving.  The modern dance world is changing shape too.  But traditional Ballet continues to cripple their dancers for the sake of something that can never be questioned--tradition.  But when and how does tradition take hold?  Can it evolve?

One message the dance world gives to the sports world is this: "Get all of your body weight out of your heels!"  And, sports training weighting into the heels adds balance to that message. 

However, if you want speed and agility, you're not going anywhere fast if all of your training and stances are coached by pressing all your body weight into the heels.  The arches of the feet help distribute weight through the bones of the feet, and the muscles of the feet got to be resilient.

So yes, you need your feet for speed and agility.  Now is the best time to strengthen and train with an all-encompassing understanding of their power.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Core, How About Parkour?

Core, How About Parkour?
Now that we have a core, it's time to move with it!

In an amazing article, "Too Old, Too Fat, Too Weak For Parkour" by Ryan Ford, Ryan suggests an expansion into Parkour regardless of age, size or anything else, is possible. It's an empowering idea.  It looks easy.  But as we now know the easier it looks... doesn't always mean that it didn't require a massive amount of effort, focus and humility to make it look so easy, and fun. 

Parkour for all?  Why not. 

Ryan Ford has put together some incredible vids that introduce you, the beginner, to this highly coordinated movement art. Ryan picked 5 moves to work toward for increased mobility in Parkour: full squat, passive bar hang, wall support, basic quadripedal, and jogging.  If you've (n)ever thought about crawling backwards, here's one of his instructional vids to check.

Is Parkour only for the young? Looking at some of the amazing advanced students, many of the traceurs are young men.  The advanced traceurs apparently create with ease something extraordinary, without breaking their neck, or a sweat, in the process.  The question remains, will they be able to do Parkour at 50+?  Does it matter?

More informed, with cross-training (Pilates, Gyrotonic, Yoga, SportsMedicine), we can not only want to move with ease, we can train to move with ease throughout our entire lives.  Of course,  embarking on this Parkour adventure, as with everything else, will require skill and prep, risk analysis in any environment, awareness of one's own ability not someone else's.  And it must be mentioned, a healthy sense of play throughout the rest of our lives shouldn't hurt, too much.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Ultimate Plank Vid
by Men's Health

LOOK NO FURTHER for perfecting your PLANK challenge.
(Thanks to my friend and colleague Andre Levitt for posting this on his fb page.)

22 Plank Variations
22 new plank variations:
Posted by Men's Health on Wednesday, September 16, 2015