“Mind and body should be viewed as the two well-fitting halves of a perfect whole, designed and planned in perfect harmony, mutually to sustain and support each other, and equally worthy of our unwearied care and attention in perfecting.”
-- Julia Thomas, 1892
That guy next to me is Dave Hall of Agoge Fitness Systems. Ya need to know who he is, because although his voice doesn’t have the in-yer-face volume of those who are demanding to be heard, the vibrations and timbre are far reaching and important. He is currently working on letting everyone know who everyone else is, which is an interesting place to be… sort of like a physical culture Dolly Levi, but not with the romance bend and without breaking into song. (Yes, that might be the least straight-guy reference I’ve ever made).
His most recent, and very successful, endeavor was a little shindig called the Mental Meat Heads Symposium, a 2-day chautauqua of physical culture education through movement, thought and the occasional dance-meditation (really). 4 speakers, including yours truly, chatted about thoughtful movement, empowerment and play… all woven into a tapestry of DOING… either moving like we never have before or adding creativity, precision and performance to what we might already be attempting. All within the walls of his strength dojo in Birmingham, Alabama.
Day one featured Jason C. Brown, who introduced us to his brand of intense play and embodiment. His newest project is something I look forward to called the Strength Garden, but currently he is known for what is aptly titled the Pathfinder Method.
Elliott Hulse followed with a movement meditation process that involved, among other things, the metaphor of combining rider and horse as powerful message of the mind/body connection. Much of the work was based on Wilhelm Reich, who, love him or call him a nut job, is still considered by some to be a strong inspiration to that modern practice called neuroscience.
Forgive me for not waxing profound about either segment… my goal here is to see a big picture. And what more could I say that others haven’t. Heck, a review is to get you to want to jump on the next plane to wherever their next workshops are. Just know that you should.
But Day 1 of Mental Meat Heads began a strong dialog between mind, body and tribe, and the glaring wave of realization that I surfed through the rest of the night and into the next day was that movement and emotion could be sparks for and results of each other.
Jason used movement (and when I mention movement, let’s understand that there is an intrinsic intensity involved) as a conduit for emotion, his goal being joy. “The closest point between two people is laughter” was the constant reminder of what he called the KY Concept… less friction/more pleasure!
Elliott used emotion as a conduit for movement, where, upon taping into emotions during his process, we moved. In inspired, improvised ways.
Day 2: Matt and Me
Matt Wichlinski showed us how to move. The trend these days seems to be for trainers to try to show off movement to other trainers. There is a lot of “here’s how to maybe do this super advanced move that 1 in a thousand of your clients might be able to do, and you yourself will probably struggle with.” Matt, though – himself someone with mad movement skills – knows how to bring the basics and lay out a path for trickier stuff. And he wraps it all up in his Anatomy of a Workout program template. Movement becomes strength, and that might sound like an obvious correlation. But despite all the information that is out there, all the How and What perpetuated by this industry, that ideal equation isn’t always the correct outcome. There is a lot of movement out there, a lot of busy-ness, but a great majority of it isn’t truly leading to strength, which, Matt and I agreed in a recent phone interview, is defined as Ability. But, as Matt demonstrated and discussed, Strength/Ability begets more movement, and a circle forms, one leading to the other, under the right program.
See a trend here? Replace Emotion or Ability with something else equally important and chances are Movement can be a path to it and a desired outcome from it.
What the heck could I add to the party? A quick summary from the cheap seats (in other words,my own perspective) was that there was an attempt to sum it all up. Play, awareness and ability, all wrapped up in technique, seem to be the big things I blab on about anyway, so my goal was to intertwine them all together through the concept of intensity, since intensity is the magic goop we should all covet through movement. Intensity is what opens the door between mind and body, more so than the often passive practices that seem to be the cornerstone of neuroscience currently practiced. I introduced some paths towards intensity beyond the common modern (and very limited) protocols of volume and workload, and simply pointed out how some of those paths were already given to us throughout the weekend (play, awareness and ability/technique).
So my end product is always defining fitness ultimately as Usefulness (the physical manifestation of holistic usefulness, if ya wanna get wordy). Movement as a path to usefulness… which is a path to movement… etc…
Don’t worry… it will all be uploadable soon. Plus there are plans in the works for making this event grow and travel. The Mental Meat Heads Symposium will be blowing some minds somewhere near you soon.