Learning to Move Creatively
For some time now I’ve had an incredible fascination with people who are on the extreme end of body control and movement. I can sit for hours watching videos of people break dancing, doing parkour, or free climbing up the side of mountains. These are all activities in which people continually find new levels of body control and new avenues of human movement. What blows my mind is the incredible balance that these people have between mobility, flexibility, strength, fluidity and power, allowing them to perform seemingly impossible physical feats with ease.
Homo Sapien: The Physical Jack of All Trades
As humans we aren’t really that good at any one physical activity and in today’s culture the only thing we have mastered is sitting, which we don’t even do with proper mechanics most of the time. We aren’t able to swim as well as a dolphin, run as fast as a cheetah, maneuver obstacles as easily as a monkey, or jump as high as a kangaroo. But don’t despair because one of the amazing things about being a human is that we’ve evolved to be the most versatile of all creatures. We can emulate the great animal movers and become formidable at climbing, running, jumping, swimming, lifting, throwing, kicking, etc. (Even flying, which we have no natural ability for yet we’ve developed technologies, like wing suits, to make it possible).
Most sports today require that we develop a specialized skill set or movement pattern and then become as good at it as possible. This has done wonders for advancing each individual movement and skill and it continually sets the benchmark for what’s possible, but the downside is that it gets us away from being good all-around movers.
But with yin there’s always yang and as we get more specialized in our movements, there are also groups of people who are getting back to “generalized” movement and pushing the boundaries of body control. Gyms are now popping up teaching people how to gain control over their bodies and to use movement as a form of expression.
Calisthenics no longer refers to your grandpa getting out of bed in the morning and doing some sit-ups and jumping jacks. Yoga has never been more popular in the West. CrossFit is taking the power lifting scene and melding it with truly functional strength and movement. Out in the real world, people are using the environment to freerun or free climb. MMA is proving that the most effective fighters in the world have to be at home on the ground as well as with striking. Even TV has gotten on board with the game show version of parkour known as American Ninja Warrior.
A baseball player still needs to have baseball-specific training and skills. Runners need to be good at running and may not benefit from Capoeira or rock climbing (although some would argue the contrary). However, for the rest of us athletes who want to simply be as strong and fit as possible, the days of just going to the gym to bench press, squat and run on a treadmill are coming to an end. We collectively are realizing that generalized movement and finding strength and control in complex motions creates better overall fitness, health, and even aesthetics. It also decreases the stiffness and lack of mobility associated with aging, essentially reversing the clock on our bodies.
Creative Movement Series
I’ve spent the past few years watching these extraordinary people do their thing, wishing that I could do even the simplest of movements as well as them. Now it’s 2015 and the time for wishing is over. From scouring the internet and talking to some of these people, I’m convinced that it’s possible for regular people to start doing this stuff.
I’ve decided to spotlight different disciplines of Movers so that you can see what’s out there and maybe find something that’s right for you. I’ll also be posting practical things as I come across them that beginners can do to become a better Mover because let’s face it, the vast majority of us would kill ourselves even trying some of these things. I’ll only post practical things that I’m going to try too, so if it’s hard you can at least know that I’m suffering through it with you.
Below I’ve posted some videos of amazing Movers in different disciplines.
Join Higher Performance Network!
Receive the latest news & exclusive content from HPN!