Soon after opening Chapel Hill Movement Gym, Sarah and I were chatting with a friend and her husband in the front room. We didn’t have chairs in there yet, so everyone stood around standing or leaning against the wall. But I, per usual, sat in a squat.
Our friend later relayed the exchange that took place after they left.
Him: “Why does Greg squat so much?”
Her: “Uh, because he can?”
When we have access to a wide variety of physical abilities, we might be inclined to move more because it is useful and enjoyable. Children run, jump, climb, roll, and throw because it feels good. If we use those abilities regularly in a variety of situations, exploring our boundaries safely, we gain the ability to do still more.
The problem, of course, is that we have social and professional obligations that discourage us from utilizing our full skill set. Other behaviors cause direct deterioration of our abilities, with sitting for long periods arguably being the biggest culprit. Add in aging, injury, lack of awareness, general life exhaustion, and we start to see how the deck is stacked against a life of quality movement.
We move less. We do less, generally. We become afraid of further “penalties” that may arise from the regular usage of our bodies. Our world shrinks. This happens automatically. It is the default if we are not conscientious.
If you are serious about getting in shape and staying that way, you have to use the abilities that you currently have available to you. Preferably, most of your training will take place at the edges of those abilities, seeking out deficiencies in your strength, power, mobility, and stability, as well as your intellectual and emotional well-being.
Notice how different this suggestion is from “Exercise more.” If you’re exercising more, but it’s in the same way most of the time, it’s certainly better than not exercising at all. But you’re still only addressing a narrow set of abilities. All the abilities that are not in use will continue to deteriorate. Eventually, the neglected abilities may even encroach on those few skills you have maintained.
A training plan needn’t be extreme. Just move in the ways you can, often. When you find that you can do something without really paying attention, it’s time to bring your attention back. Add more weight. Change the tempo of the movement. Do a variation of the movement you might normally be doing. Or just try something entirely new. Develop and maintain an inclination towards feeling challenged in a variety of ways.
Think like a kid. Seek out opportunities to hop up and down a curb. Or walk along a low, narrow retaining wall. Maybe even hoist yourself up onto a ledge or climb a tree.
Squat whenever you can. Support your bodyweight in as many ways as possible. Get off the ground deliberately, with purpose, often. Pick up heavy things. Learn your boundaries and nudge them.
If you don’t want to lose function, you have to practice function. There’s no way around it. You will become the thing(s) you are practicing.
We squat so often because we can. We always want to be good at that. And so much more.
Come try a class at C.hill Movement. Doesn’t matter your age, experience level, current or former injuries. Everyone can benefit from moving better. We’ll help you find your limitations and address them.
Our gym is about more than exercise; this is purposeful physicality. Develop an inclination to move — you won’t regret it!