Monday, 26 June 2017

Fitness Lessons I've Learned From My Kids

I always knew parenthood would be transformative. Everyone tells you that much. I figured I would learn important lessons about love, and patience, and sacrifice, and maybe pick up some survival tactics too ;-) But what I didn't expect to learn about from my kids was fitness! See, children are natural-born athletes - it's completely instinctive, and they haven't yet had the years of social conditioning, illness and injury that adults have to create faulty movement patterns. A child at play is a beautiful thing to behold! Observing them can give us all great insight into the potential of the human body, and how it should be moving in its optimal form. 

Here are just some of the fitness lessons I've learned from my children:

Why walk when you can run? Running feels awesome. Movement feels awesome. Kids don't wait for "running time" to come around - they do it whenever they damn well please (sometimes to the chagrin of the parents) because they just feel like it. We adults are all about that one-hour daily exercise timeslot... I say: if you have the energy and you have the opportunity, just go ahead and release!!!

Variety is the spice of life. Have you ever watched kids play at the playground? Running, jumping, bending, swinging, hanging, pulling, climbing, kicking, crouching, balancing, rolling, spinning, inversions.... they are the ultimate athletes because they do everything! When's the last time you did even half those things?

Strengthen your neck! The very first thing every baby needs to do is learn to support their head. It's fundamental to every movement they learn thereafter. With "text neck" becoming a bigger and bigger issue amongst adults and teens, I think now more than ever we need to go back to basics and strengthen our necks. You can do this by laying facedown with your hands clasped behind your head. Try to lift your head while providing counter-pressure with your hands. Hold for 5 seconds, and release. Repeat 10 times. Don't forget to stretch the front of your neck afterward.

Hang out in Squat. Kids will just get down into a low squat and stay there. They play there. They read there. They rest there. Staying in a low squat like that builds hip mobility, counters the negative physical effects of extended chair sitting, encourages spinal alignment, and relaxes your pelvic floor. Especially if you're a Mom, this one is a must-do.

Be Fearless. Three times now I have had the privilege of observing a baby learning how to crawl then walk. It's both a lightning fast and painstakingly slow process. But from the moment a child decides he or she wants to walk, they go to work. They try it. They fall. They try again. They try and try and fall and fall. They do this dozens of times a day, accumulating to hundreds of attempts over the course of some months, until finally..... STEPS! The pride on their faces is bliss. But the effort and dedication they put forth in the process is truly humbling. Children are fearless. They see what they want and go after it. Relentless pursuit, with little or no regard to what we as adults call "failure". They have every confidence in themselves, as they should. If we as adults attacked every goal with that same fearlessness, imagine what we could accomplish.