As a much younger person, if I had been asked “how do you define feeling fit?” I would have given a dismissive response. The word “fit” or “fitness” was for hacks. I was a professional dancer, living in NYC, teaching and touring. An artist! After teaching at leading institutions, working as a certified professional trainer with a wide variety of clients, studying the newly developing science in fitness, and motherhood, I have a new perspective. Developing conviction about what fitness is, as it pertains to my own life and my work with clients, influences answering the question.
I spend many hours sifting through the high volume of fitness related information readily available. This research, continuing education required training, and my extensive background as a movement educator have led to emerging concepts that now drive my vision. Namely,
- the body that sits too much has lost its reflexive ability to move well and pain free
- that connective tissue, which includes fascia, is influential to whole body stability and ease of movement courtesy of a well functioning nervous system which depends on healthy, springy, hydrated connective tissue; and,
- that the relatively new science of “mechanobiology” is astounding and must be considered, which deals with applied force and its effect on each body cell, including the force of gravity. Just moving around, not necessarily “exercising”, provides squish input to every cell, followed by translation into chemical signals (a process called mechanotransduction).
Our health and longevity may be dependent on cell behavior in response to this signaling; and, it could mean that daylong (volume) and diversity is more important than traditional fitness programming.
How do these concepts affect the way I train my clients, and my own behavior? Keeping at the forefront that programming for longevity and athletic performance can and should go hand in hand, we rock, crawl, spring off the wall and load tissues in a variety of ways with a variety of tools. We stimulate body-wide reception and hydrate at the cellular level with MELT techniques, which improves nervous and muscle system function and follow with MELT Neurostrength to refine our muscle-firing scheme to enhance healthy joint positioning. Now we are ready for heavier push, pull, squat and core work. This programming develops bodies that are better-aligned and more responsive to moving in a variety of ways throughout every day.
How do the key concepts (restoring reflexes, hydrating tissue, and movement being input for my cells), help me define for myself what feeling fit is? My answer is a series of questions I evaluate on a regular basis: how quickly do my heart rate and breathing recover after climbing steep hills on my long walks? Do I feel stiffness or pain when I wake up in the morning? Am I sleeping enough to restore my body for better metabolism, waste removal and repair? How’s my vestibular balancing and proprioceptive stabilizing capacity during my yoga class or doing strength work with my TRX? Trying to limit my sitting to 20 minutes at a time, can I easily spring up from the floor, or a chair? Am I able to load my body with good alignment and for enough cycles to do a good run, or any other body weight fun?