Category Archives: Blog

Evaluating Your Movement Practice (Moms and Dads!)

 

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.

 

Shamma Sandals Warriors Review

I’ve got another great product review for you guys, and let me cut to the chase:  these are the best barefoot sandals I’ve ever worn, and perhaps the best barefoot shoe I’ve ever had.  Let me explain.

Before the barefoot craze hit us several years ago when Born to Run was released, it was almost impossible to find barefoot trainers.  I’d scour the internet for hours, and the best I could come up with were some Chucks and these Feiyvue’s.  Good shoes, but still not flexible and minimal enough to allow my foot to be a foot.

Then we had the golden era – the time when every company was trying to come up with a shoe to catch the barefoot trend.  Vibram Fivefingers were the first ones I heard of, but soon after I found Luna Sandals, Vivobarefoot, even Merrell, Inov-8 and New Balance were jumping in the mix.  I was so excited!  Finally I’d have lots of great options for footwear!

Until I started trying all of them.  I went through about 20 pairs of different types and styles.  Almost none of them felt truly “barefoot” to me.  They would either pinch my toes, create heel chord stiffness (due to overly tight straps), be MUCH stiffer in the midfoot than desired, etc. etc.  My search for the perfect pair of shoes maddeningly continued.

Now, it’s 7 years later, and I’ve finally found shoes worthy of putting up on a pedestal of great barefoot trainers.  And they’re not even shoes:  they are the Shamma Sandals Warriors.

I did a review for Shamma Sandals for their Mountain Goats over a year ago.  I liked the feel of the sandal quite a bit, but the ink bled into my feet when wet and they didn’t have as much carry over to more intense natural movement and play.  They were great, but scored a 4/5 for these drawbacks.  The Warriors solved these issues and more besides.

Benefits:

  • Power Strap allows for much more vigorous movement and play while the sandal stays glued to the foot.  (no more tripping over the front of the sandal!)
  • Velcro straps much more comfortable than other brands I’ve tried and are easy to take on and off.
  • Open toe box (AKA sandal) allows for natural toe spread and movement.
  • Very comfortable through the webbing of my big toe (something that I’ve had trouble with before)
  • Tan leather bottoms don’t bleed into feet (Note: I’ve seen a review where someone did have this problem.  All I can say is it wasn’t nearly as bad as the black bottoms I had before :))
  • Vibram soles are very grippy and do well in rain or shine.
  • Great flexibility through the foot while still providing enough protection to safely explore new ground.
  • So far, have held up very well under frequent and exuberant use (about 6 months so far!)
  • Cost is competitive with other shoes on the market.

Drawbacks:

  • Not really a drawback, just a note.  These still aren’t meant to be a replacement shoe for playing basketball and other sports.  Wear these for movement and exploration.  Wear the appropriate sport specific wear if that’s what you want to do.

Total Score:  5/5.  Get a pair!  You won’t regret it 🙂

And thanks to Shamma Sandals for the review copy!

Lessons from the Great John Wooden

john_wooden

Recently I listened to a couple of great podcasts featuring an interview Tony Robbins did with legendary coach John Wooden almost 25 years ago. I’d always heard stories about John Wooden, his Success Pyramid, and his success on the basketball court. However, I’d never gotten to hear him speak for any length of time. This interview immediately drew me in. I felt an overwhelming amount of wisdom and love pouring out of this man. There were several key things that stood out to me that resonated deeply.

Activity without achievement.

This one struck a chord as I continue my journey to being as effective as I can be. Often, we look at someone who DOES a lot as being successful, while overlooking the IMPACT that those actions have. Activity without achievement is wasteful, both on the basketball floor and in life.

Balance and love.

Perhaps the most moving section was coach Wooden’s emphasis on BALANCE being at the center of what he did. Physical – Emotional – and Moral. This is directly in line with my WHY, the reason that I continue to come back to this practice each and every day. To help restore balance where I see need. With balance and love the world would be a great place.

Never get too high or too low.

Coach Wooden said “An opponent should never know if you won or lost by your actions.” He wanted people to stay grounded when receiving praise, and take criticism and hardship as opportunities to learn. In many ways, this mimics the stoic philosophers of old, and I think applies to countless situations.

Success is knowing you prepared to the best of your ability.

Behaviors, not outcomes, are the best indication of success. Whether you are trying to start a movement practice, unplug from devices and reconnect with your loved ones, or change your diet, focus on the behaviors and the preparation and don’t focus on what you can’t control.

Poise is being yourself.

This is so hard to do, yet so true. I’ve never heard it put this way before and I really love it.

Leaving work at work.

This is an extension of never getting too high or too low, and something I often struggle with. I’ll come home from work and unload on Valerie, who has been at home with two kids without adult interaction all morning. She takes on my stress or my joy. I want to practice the art of separating work from home life, not in the sense that they aren’t each a critical part of me, but that when I’m home, I’m totally focused on my people and what I can do to support them.

A life of giving is a life worth living. 

“Be strong to be useful.” “You have to give to receive.” These are fundamental to our way of life yet so often overlooked. One of the easiest ways to tell how happy someone is, is to ask them: “In what ways are you able to give of yourself to others?” Yet our fitness industry is so “me” focused and so little “we”. This is part of my vision for my work moving forward: to bring people together, to be relentlessly supportive, to see a session where you helped someone else achieve something as even more important than achieving something yourself.

Wait 20 years to see if you made a difference.

As coaches, we follow the mantra of “be transformational, not transactional.” However, true transformation doesn’t happen on the floor or in a single session. The only judge of change is time. Coach Wooden was more concerned with how his players acted 20 years after being with him than the successes they had while in his program. How would taking this long-term outlook affect your coaching? Your interactions with others? The goals you set for yourself?

Thank you, Coach Wooden. Your legacy continues to move and inspire.

Check out the podcast episodes below:

The legendary John Wooden

Wild Ninja

This past summer, I had the awesome opportunity to work with Kevin Glenn of the Wild Nature Project and a group of young teens during the Wilderness Ninja Camp.  The kids spent an entire week out in nature, putting up a shelter, exploring the local flora and fauna, playing Jedi Master (which you have to see to believe – it’s super fun), and lashing together this obstacle course.

I took everyone through some basic jumping, landing, crawling, vaulting, and rolling progressions over the course of the week.  We played “Caged Lion” and a special version of Capture the Flag, and, of course, spent a ton of time on the course itself.  Here is a little sample of some flow:

If you are in Bloomington, IN and have a kid that loves being outside, you absolutely have to reach out to Kevin.  His programs are excellent.  If you want your kids to learn more Ninja skills hands on, check out my Ninja Academy classes at Force.  If your whole FAMILY wants to learn and play together, then stay tuned for my upcoming project. 🙂

How to Fix Scapular Winging – A Case Study with Exercises

I’ve been working with Coach Tessa from Force Fitness to help with a severe case of scapular winging, and we’ve made huge progress in only a week. Scapular winging is often misunderstood and miscued, so we thought this was a good opportunity to review exercises we use to help. The video gets cut off at the end (camera battery died) but the good content is still in there.

Coach Tessa says she feels better everywhere in her training after implementing these exercises: pulling, squats, you name it! Great work Coach T and keep it up!

BONUS CONTENT FOR BLOG

Exercise List:

Add these movements to your warm up and in between sets

  • Crocodile Breathing x10 breaths -> Key to getting the diaphragm active and rib cage mobile again!
  • Prone Nods x15 reps -> Open up the chest and sit up nice and tall on the elbows!
  • Upper Quadrant 1/2 Roll w/ PVC (shown in video) x10 each
  • Commando Rockbacks (shown in video) x30 reps
  • Backwards Baby Crawl (shown in video) x20 yards

Use these movements on mobility days or days when you aren’t doing a ton of heavy pulling work, etc.:

If you’re in the Bloomington area, come on in to Force Fitness to see how we can help you! forcebloomington.com

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Thanks y’all!