“When there is freedom from mechanical conditioning, there is simplicity.
Life is a relationship to the whole.” – Bruce Lee
High intensity exercise is numbing. The feelings that you don’t want to feel or can’t feel because you have a big presentation ahead of you…are silenced by “exercise”. This can be a good thing. Because although the real work, the true work, is done internally, deep down, slowly, with mindfulness and loving kindness, sometimes we just need to get through the day and handle our responsibilities without an emotional meltdown. So hit the weights, sweat it out, but know what you’re doing, when, and why. And then make time to recover and do the real work.
If HIIT isn’t the answer, then what is?
I no longer believe in a single fitness method. I believe in the sound application of any combination of methods led by an intuitive coach who connects deeply with their students. Set an intention for each training session and believe resolutely in the emotional transformation a quality program can instill. A holistic training program is not just going to balance an exercise prescription within its modality. It’s going to think about the individual as a whole. A training session or workout should be designed to get you through life. Your life should not be designed to get you through a workout:
The Intuitive Method
When I started researching movement, bouncing from book to book, sponging what grabbed me, leaving the rest, that excited me. Leaving it and coming back to it…longing to get back to it, excited me. The act of sitting here, researching a book end to end…doesn’t excite me, even if a certain book prospects to be the holy grail; I get bored with monotony. And with fitness it’s the same: it should be fun, exciting, playful…
As I started to explore what makes NLTN different from other gyms and studios I realized that everything I’m trying to do for my clients, and the way I’m trying to train myself, is based on my childhood games. My cousins and I would run amok through the forest, fields, and farms around my grandparent’s house. We’d play cops and robbers chasing each other, scrambling over trees, picking berries and corn to “survive”, hiding in forts we made ourselves and sneaking around so as to not get captured. It was a precursor to how clients train at NLTN: we crawl, climb, hop, walk, jog, lift, crouch, carry, and laugh. We play and in doing so, we learn about ourselves and our relationship with the environment.
Spark Joy, Not Duty
Engage in activities because they bring you joy, not because they’re going to get you closer to some goal. Set goals, of course, but set them because goals provide you with a plan and benchmarks for feedback about the efficacy of your programming. Goals can motivate, but they don’t give that deep sense of purpose, intrinsically motivated. Don’t let yourself get hung up on your goals. Get in touch with the feelings; listen to your body. Allow how you feel to guide you, monitoring levels of fatigue rather than volume of work.
Through learning we have adapted to hide our true nature so as to better fit in with the expectations of society. This idea presented by Moshe Feldenkrais, world renowned movement educator, teaches that as humans we don’t move through the world expressing our true selves. We turn to society for acceptance, rather than our own truth. We end up believing that our success, which is only society’s applause for our upholding its established norm, is nourishing to the soul. We’ve evolved to shut out the communication emanating from our bodies: hunger cues, pain cues, emotional unrest. All can be ignored because we’re satisfied with the masks society has approved.
We are, and our bodies are simply a reflection of the habits we keep, and now we’ve gotten to a point where we need to be overstimulated so we can feel anything at all. Because we’re so numb to our needs, after decades and generations of shutting ourselves out, in order to “feel” we have evolved a need for overstimulation (overly sweet, fatty, salty foods; fad diets; constant screen time; graphic music; HIIT training; reality TV; etc.). Because we are so disconnected we don’t notice the subtle language of the body. So, bring your focus toward cultivating the elements of play in your training sessions. Learn to listen to your intuition, beginning with how you are thinking and feeling: sensing. Begin to recognize when movement patterns aren’t serving you, how hard to press, and what your body needs from a given stimulus. This will result in increased enjoyment, confidence, and performance in fitness.
“ When there is freedom from mechanical conditioning, there is simplicity.
Life is a relationship to the whole.” – Bruce Lee
How to follow The Intuitive Method
When implementing The Intuitive Method you must recognize that your primary concern is with self-awareness. Everything stems from there. The entire system is reliant upon the practitioner’s desire to become truly aware. All other objectives are secondary, no matter how important, none is as important as self-discovery. Because laying that foundation transitions to self-confidence, capacity, and ultimately vitality. When you begin with a true desire to better yourself, to enhance awareness, the gym becomes a playground and the world becomes your gym.
The next step is to design a training session. That’s all you need; an elaborate, year-long progressive training cycle is not necessary. We’re not training for the olympics here. We’re developing intuition and building the most holistic self possible. You need to start with one well balanced training session. Like a well balanced meal that all others can build upon, design your session with the necessary components:
- Warm Up (including a check-in, tissue quality work, breathing, and movement preparation)
- Fundamental Movement Patterns (including secondary movement patterns, complexities, and intensifiers as needed)
- Cool Down (including a check-in, tissue quality work, range of motion exercises, and breathing)
The movement patterns and exercises you choose to incorporate will be dictated by your goals (strength, flexibility, endurance, power, etc.) and your exercise and medical histories.
Once you have designed what you deem is your ideal training session, you must execute it and take guiding notes which will help you adjust subsequent training sessions to point you in the direction of success. Each training session builds upon the last. I recommend giving yourself at least one day between sessions so your body can recover and you can assess any benefit or damage. Remember, it is in recovery that we grow. Make eliminations when necessary, progressions when necessary, and seek help when necessary.
If you’re losing motivation, getting bored, injured, or not seeing results. If you’re not having fun! You need to change your plan. Research ways to accomplish what you need. Find a coach if you’re struggling. But keep the main objective in mind: the entire system is reliant upon your desire to become self-aware. Make it fun, enjoy the sequence, and move.
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