Upcoming events, suggested reading, and thoughts on training
Happy April! (Or end of April, as the case may be). I have been thinking a lot about training, exercise, and general well-being as it relates to movement. My training explorations have taught me many things and I am realizing all of those old idioms (less is more, quality versus quantity) really are true if you want to get stronger and achieve a skill. For instance, I have spent the last 3 months working on my handstand. For whatever reason, the handstand was a skill I always wanted to achieve. The idea of being upside down appealed to me, and while I could do headstands, forearm stand, and a variety of arm balances, the act of handstanding alluded me. It wasn’t until I worked on my wrist and shoulder mobility (because proprioception is kind of key when you are upside down), and dedicated a set amount of time to practice that the handstand began to show up, in a consistent way. Left to my own devices, I would probably still be practicing handstands once or twice a week, with very little rest between attempts and no wrist mobility work before hand. Instead, I followed the GMB handstand program, which forced me to deal with the things I don’t enjoy working on (shoulder mobility work), and practice in a much more skillful manner (try one. Rest. Try another. Rest). There was no “trick” to accomplishing the skill, other than mastering the necessary basics and mindful repetition.
This concept of mastering the basics seems to be showing up a lot in my movement practice right now. While it’s fun to be able to do fancy tricks, at the end of the day, if you spend time working on a good quality squat, a good quality long seated position (or Dandasana, in yoga speak), a good quality hip hinge, a good quality pull-up, a good quality push-up, and a good quality plank, you will be decently strong and mobile. These are building blocks to other, more impressive feats of strength and mobility, and should be visited often to practice and refine. It is easy to become so caught up in the more advanced movements, we forget to revisit the basics.
As boring as it sounds, revisiting the basics is where the magic happens. If there is a specific skill you want to accomplish, figure out which basics are the building blocks to that skill and work on those. Once the most basic foundations of the skill are mastered, then move on to the next progression. If you work slowly, through each progression, the impressive skill begins to unveil itself. Unfortunately, there are no magic tricks to accomplishing most skills in life, other than doing the work.
What: Move Better class series: finding skill and ease in exercise and movement
Topic: The bodyweight squat
Where: Be Well Personal Training, 3776 The Barnyard, Carmel CA
When: Saturday, April 30, 10:30-11:30
What: Training clients with non-specific low back pain
Where: Move-sf, 2863 California Street, San Francisco, CA
When: Saturday, May 14, 1-4
Cost: $75 (If student, please contact me for discount code)
What: Body, mind, nature retreat
Where: Mayacamas Ranch,
When: June, 2017. Details, coming soon.
I have read a number of interesting books and articles recently, on a variety of topics. Fortunately, some of them were featured on Brain Pickings, which means if you don’t want to read the book, there are excellent synopses available.
Healing Spaces, by Esther Sternberg. How our space matters in health and healing (book).
Understanding the Science of Exercise, Happiness, and Brain Chemicals (article: http://happyproject.in/exercise-happiness/)
Body tension and self image (blog: http://www.sethoberst.com/blog/body-tension-and-self-image)
Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg (book)
Deep Work, by Cal Newport (book. I know I mentioned this last time, but worth a re-mention).
Daily Rituals, by Mason Curry (book).
The Preparatory Set (research article. Interesting, if you follow stress research at all): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4381623/
Thought Viruese (blog: http://amandagore.com/thought-viruses/)
Muscle cramps (great read on what these actually are. Blog: http://fitforreallife.com/2016/04/how-to-handle-muscle-cramps/)
Squat better (one of the best articles I have read on this topic: https://gmb.io/squat/)
Your brain on movement (blog: http://breakingmuscle.com/natural-movement/your-brain-on-movement-challenge-your-nervous-system)
Yoga and sciatica (guest blog I wrote for Jules Mitchell: http://www.julesmitchell.com/why-yoga-for-sciatica-is-a-stretch/)
Don’t look into my window (blog. I really appreciated this. We can all be so judgey, without fully understanding what we are judging: http://www.strengthcoach.com/public/Dont-Look-into-My-Window-until-you-talk-to-me-first.cfm)
Follow up by Clifton Harski is worth a read as well: https://cliftonharski.com/2016/04/01/please-stop-ruining-fitness-for-clients-and-your-peers/
When Breath becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi (memoir about dying, written by a 38 year-old neurosurgeon with terminal cancer. If you don’t want to read the entire thing, the Brain Pickings synopsis can be found here: https://www.brainpickings.org/2016/01/13/when-breath-becomes-paul-kalanithi/
Gratitute, by Oliver Sachs (essays, also written by Oliver Sachs when he found out he was dying, except he was 81).
On creativity (blog: https://www.holstee.com/blogs/mindful-matter/76351941-the-myth-of-creativity)
Chandler Stevens and Aaron Swanson have both been putting out interesting movement videos on instagram. If you read this newsletter because you enjoy movement inspiration, check them out.