Do you ever feel yourself getting confused and pessimistic when it comes to selecting a workout routine that will actually help you?
Have you ever had the experience of launching into a new fitness routine hoping for amazing results, but at a certain point you noticed that all the same aches and pains returned, the weight you were hoping to lose didn’t come off, and despite your commitment you still found yourself getting frustrated?
That’s because you changed what you did, but not how you did it. Anyone can throw on some spandex and start working out – but changing your signature body mechanics is a different matter altogether.
Wondering if you need a change?
Just ask yourself if any of the following apply to you:
- Your skin is sagging in places it didn’t use to.
- Exercising seems to inflame chronic pains or old injuries
- You know that something needs to change but you’re not sure what
- You want strong, toned muscles but the idea of joining a gym makes you say “yuck”
- You are tired during the day or have trouble sleeping at night.
- You feel like you are constantly on the verge of injuring yourself
If you answered yes, then you’re in the right place.
Often times, the solution to these problems is as simple as changing how you move.
And yes, you can get in shape and feel good without taking up a serious sport or joining a gym. Changing your body and how you move mostly boils down to alignment and technique. Unfortunately, many programs that teach such things are geared toward serious athletes, gym junkies, or limited to specific types of movement such as yoga.
Our goal is to help you learn to move your body like an athlete no matter what you’re interested in doing. Alignment and technique should not be reserved only for athletes, nor should working out require you to adhere to only one type of program.
Which is why we’ve developed a method of moving called The Biofunctional Method™.
By combining specific exercises, stretches, and coordination techniques pulled from a wide variety of movement modalities, this method teaches you to move the way your unique body needs to move.
Whether you sit at a desk, or work in your garden, or like to walk, it’s important for your body and your brain to know how to move well.
Learning to move well actually improves mental clarity, helps you form new ways of thinking and problem solving, and ultimately decreases stress on your brain.
Which brings us to…drum roll… The Best Way to Work Out
Most of what we teach is individualized, but there are 4 basic principles that are at the root of everything we teach.
1. The 3 Legged Stool
Picture a stool with three legs. Each of these legs represents strength, flexibility, and coordination respectively. When all three legs of the stool are proportional, the stool will be balanced. Now imagine one of the legs is wobbly – the stool will tip.
In order to move well, thus look and feel good, these 3 legs must be balanced. If one area is doing too little, another area will have to do too much. This leads to muscular imbalance and often to pain.
Chances are right now you’re pretty much only doing the things you’re good at. We don’t blame you – that’s human nature. If you really want to excel, start working on some things you’re not so good at, because when all’s said and done, you can really only do three things to exercise your body: strengthen, stretch, and coordinate it – and you have to make sure you do all three!
Now we’re going to let you in on a little secret:
Tight muscles are often weak muscles. This is NOT ALWAYS TRUE, but it’s usually the case that a weak muscle will become tight to shorten the distance between two joints, so it can have more control. Picture walking a dog on a leash – the dog is easier to control when the leash is short.
This means that you can stretch the bejesus out of a muscle, but if you’re not doing anything to specifically strengthen your body, you’re more than likely just going to be stretching what’s already flexible and making your tight muscles tighter.
Now think of your own body, and ask yourself which “leg of the stool” is out of balance? Strength, flexibility, coordination, or maybe all or none.
Case 1: Do you have decent muscle mass but tend to be pretty stiff? Chances are you need to focus on working on flexibility/mobility.
Case 2: Or maybe you’re pretty flexible (you could touch your toes if we asked you to), but you notice that parts of your body hurt for no good reason. You would benefit from doing some targeted strengthening work.
Case 3: Perhaps you already have a regular workout routine in place – for example, you attend regular yoga classes – but you notice that no matter what you do, your balance is really shaky and you feel clumsy. Working through our balance/coordination drills would help you even out that leg of the stool and restore your balance.
2. It’s all in the hips
Do your hips cause you grief? Are they too wide, too stiff, too loose, or too painful? You’re not alone – the hips are one of the more complex and important structures in the human body.
Every athletic motion begins with the hips, and this is because the hips and pelvis are the anatomical cornerstones of the human body.
Warning! Geek talk!
Sorry, but we can’t resist. Here’s a QUICK breakdown of what’s really happening in the area known as your hips:
Back view of the hips
You have a round ball-and-socket joint (not pictured), surrounded by the large “butt” muscles (pictured above). This creates a strong and mobile joint that’s capable of doing a lot of work. Your hips are made to work – running, jumping, lifting, twisting – all involve your hips. The motions of your spine are largely dictated by the strength and flexibility of your hips.
Long story short, there’s a lot going on in your hips.
What you do with your hips affects everything above and below including your: feet, ankles, knees, spine, shoulders, neck, and jaw.
One of the simplest examples? Bending down to pick up a box. If your butt muscles are weak, chances are they’ll also be short…
(remember tight muscles are usually weak!)
…which will make you overuse your back.
The key to working out well is to focus on making sure your hips are strong, mobile, and functional…
…if in doubt just double check – are the “3 legs of the stool” balanced?
Get your hips in check and you’ll watch your body rapidly change shape. Read on to #3 to learn one of the quickest ways of doing this.
3. Get Down
No, we’re not trying sound cool right now. In order to restore healthy fluid movement to your body, you literally need to practice getting on the floor and moving around.
We call the action of lowering your body down and working close to the ground small angles. Small angles refer the joint angles from your hips and below. This means your hips, knees, and ankles.
Imagine lowering yourself into a squat from standing: the angle at your hip, knee, and ankle will reduce – creating small angles.
Why’s this important? Because your lower body is your shock absorption system.
You might be thinking “well this sounds easy enough,” but what makes small angles tricky is being able to keep your back straight and your chest up while bending all those joints of your lower body.
A great example of small angle movement is a squat. Children naturally have the ability to squat because they are not yet strong enough to cheat the work into other places like their knees, low back, or shoulders. Children have to use their hips and core.
The human body measures energy in terms of calories. Small angle movements are some of the most costly movements in term of calories, hence they are often the first to be deleted from our movement vocabulary when there is chronic pain, fatigue, or lack of use. This is why squatting is so easy as a child, but over years it can become very, very physically and mentally taxing to squat as an adult.
There are lots of great squat workouts and the beauty is you don’t have to leave your home to practice them!
4. Your Mind Shapes Your Body
Learning to move is as much mental as it is physical. Many movement practices touch on this concept.You can’t change how you move without changing how you think.Click To Tweet
Test it: For 1 week, start noticing how often you use your hands for balance and support. If it feels safe, challenge yourself not to use your hands when sitting down/standing up – for example, when you get in and out of your car. Watch how using your concentration begins to make you move in new ways.
Mental exercises such as this one will not only make you more aware of your body, they will begin to reshape how you move in and interact with your environment.
Also, take some time every day to be quiet with your own body.
Breathe with intention, and mentally focus on relaxing habitual tension. With time, concentration, and new awareness, you’ll find that your body becomes a trusted friend.
To Sum It Up…
Moving isn’t only about looking good.
It’s also integral to your physical and mental health:
The movements of your body help circulate blood, pump lymph, maintain healthy joint articulation, and stimulate your brain and nervous system.
Feeling confident with movement allows you to actively participate in your life and increases your sense of well-being.
- Select exercise activities that support all three legs of the stool.
- Become conscious of your hips, and try to work some glute strengthening exercises into your weekly routine.
- Practice moving around in small angles – if you have to bend down to get something, try to bend your hips, knees, and ankles while keeping your back flat.
- Most importantly, begin to be aware of how you move.
Visualize not only how you’d like to look – but how you would like to feel moving through your environment. The movements that you develop today become the skill sets that get you out of trouble in the future. Physical fitness is your single greatest investment in your future.
– Michael & Rebecca
Let us know what you think by leaving a comment in the section below…and remember, do it without using your hands! 😉