I had a great conversation with one of my clients & friends Erik the other day about how we measure progress as Dads (and I think this applies to the amazing Mommas out there too!) Classically, people point to objective measurables: weight, how much ya bench, etc. But those numbers often don’t capture the essence of our WHY. To be the best husband, father, and person we can be.
With that being said, here are five aspects I believe any movement practice that is going to have an impact beyond the gym has to have. Use it as a litmus test to see where you’re at right now.
1. Is it fun?
If it isn’t fun and joyful, not only are you suffering, but you are modeling for your kids movement shouldn’t be fun. NOTE: work IS fun, especially if it applies to something you are excited about learning or exploring. Don’t confuse play as easy.
2. Does it challenge you to be adaptable?
Conditions as a parent are always changing. You have to be adaptable to your kids needs, changing schedules, and plans. Your practice also needs to challenge you to be adaptable. It needs to push you outside of your comfort zone regularly, while also not smashing you so hard that you can’t walk the next day or lift your kids up on your shoulders. There’s a sweet spot of adaptation here, and you need to maximize it.
Autoregulation – modify your intensity to how you feel on any given day. Take into account stress, sleep, nutrition. With practice, this will become automatic. On days when you are less than your best, you back off of the intensity and do something more restorative. On days you feel great, you go pedal to the metal.
Outdoors – get outdoors, as often as possible, in all weather conditions. This is perhaps the quickest and most surefire way to develop resiliency.
Sign Up for an Event – sign up for an event like a Spartan Race, or a dodgeball tournament! Put it on the calendar, and start working towards it. Having an event to anchor you can help focus your training.
3. Is it developing real world, practical skills?
It has to develop real world practical skills. To that end, it focuses much more heavily on “doing stuff” rather than “isolating stuff”. For example, climbing a rope vs pull ups. Or climbing trees rather than bent over rows. Picking up sandbags and carrying them around rather than simply squatting over and over again. Create context for what you are doing. Become a master of your domain.
4. Does it integrate?
Can you do pieces of the practice throughout your day? Does it give you the strength and skill to continue to interact and play with your kids? You’re a parent! Things are going to get messy. Rather than having to block out separate time away from the family in order to “workout”, your practice should be something that can happen – anytime, anywhere. Squat down and play on the floor. Jump over the fence. Pick up kids and run around with them. Any practice time you do get alone should help you add to your toolbox so you can do even MORE with your family when the time comes.
5. Does it embody you in some way?
Does your movement practice leave room for self expression? Is it as much a mental practice as it is physical? Do you feel fulfilled and charged up by your movement, or does it leave you drained? Do you feel open and creative, or like your just plugging away? This metaphysical aspect of the practice is as important if not more so than the physical. Your practice needs to be an extension of yourself. So if you are fun-loving, and goofy, throw on some tunes and dance around with your kids (or by yourself). If you are focused and caring, take that same focus and care to learning new skills and taking care of your body so you can continue to be a provider and caregiver for your family. The list goes on and on.
I hope this gives you some insight into how I think about my own movement practice! Tell me, does yours make the cut? Are there things you want to change about it? Or do you think my test is off kilter? Hit the contact button at the top or send me a message on facebook to get the conversation rolling.