On our daily walks with our son, I often have to lure him to keep moving forward. With a combination of “there might be a digger around the corner“, “maybe we can see a motorbike or a blue bus“, or “let’s go and see if the puppy is there today.”*
We also make the walk about collecting leaves and the fuzzy dandelion seed “flowers” which keeps him going for a good while. And I get it, for a two-year-old walking on a flat ground for the sake of just walking is probably as exciting as listening to someone analysing the intricacies of cricket is to me.**
But eventually the kid’s had enough, I lift him on to my shoulders and we keep going. That is until we come to a spot that’s not flat. Be it a grassy hill, an uneven trail to bounce along, or a set of intimidating stairs. Like an emperor on his high chair, he demands to get back on the ground and walk.
The bigger the stairs, the better. He loves going up and down, mostly with a struggle that he can just manage without falling. He finds walking more fun when it’s challenging. Because it’s novel.
And, that’s how he learns.
As adults, we tend to get stuck on doing the same exercises and same jazzercise classes for years on end. We only focus on getting the sweat on while ignoring our movement skills. Adding a sedentary work environment to the mix doesn’t help.
And this doesn’t really bother most people. Until it does. It’s usually a slowly increasing nagging pain or ache that over time becomes a persistent companion in training, and even everyday living.
Most people’s solution is to seek help of a professional, do some exercises for a while and then return to what they’ve always done. And then repeat this cycle over and over again without ever really fixing anything. I get it, we’re all busy.
But, a better option would be to get off that cycle by copying what kids do. By leaning into the basic movements we’ve forgotten and now find challenging. We could proactively put these movement problems into a judo arm lock*** before they get a hold of us.
Instead of only focusing on what gets you sweating, focus on what’s difficult. And I guarantee you’ll break a sweat doing them. These movement, whatever they are for you, will feel like you could fail at any moment.
With enough concentration you manage to get them done. And you’ll get better.
Just like a kid learning to walk up and down the stairs does.
*These are not lies. We see those things on most days.
**I get it. There are sticks, it goes on for months, and you like tea.
***I hope that’s a term. I’ve never done judo. Except the verbal version.