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Taking Fitness Outside the Classroom

posted Apr 30, 2014, 2:48 PM by Walk Strong Calgary
When I tell my class "You can't do this wrong," I'm referring to which move you're doing at a given time, and not the actual execution of the move. That's one area wherein I will correct participants, particularly if I see someone has improper alignment, which can lead to injury. Once you've done these classes for a while, you may begin to notice that you're automatically applying some of the fitness principles to every day life, such as tucking your tummy back to engage your core for stability. Our bodies are amazingly adaptive, and along with strengthening muscle and improving flexibility, without realizing it, you've actually been training your body to move properly. Let's step outside the classroom for a practical demonstration of how our classes impact your every day life.

This morning I opted to rake my yard to make room for new growth (optimistically hoping that we've seen the last of the snow). As I plugged away at it, I realized that I was executing the moves in a completely different way than I used to. I used to just reach with the rake and pull, and my lower back would start to hurt in no time. Today, I had no back pain, which in itself is unusual considering I've been having some issues lately. It dawned on me that I was automatically adopting good postural alignment, and using my arms AND my legs to do the work without even thinking about it. I decided to turn my work project into an object lesson and set up my camera. Take a look at these photos, and you'll see a huge difference in movement: 

In this first set, I have good spinal alignment; however, take a look at the mechanics of movement. I've reaching forward with my arms and pulling the rake toward my body, my knees are straight and my body stays pretty much in the same position. My arms and my lower back are doing all of the work (I could really feel it in my low back). Now look at these:

There is a big difference in how I'm using my legs in this set. My knees are bent and I move my body forward as I reach, using my LEGS in combination with the arms to bring the rake back toward my feet. I can tell you that it felt as different as it looks, and in engaging my legs as a source of leverage, I took the strain off the low back. The thing is, I was thinking about how I was using my body. I never used to do that. I also kept switching from side to side, balancing out which muscles were being used. I never used to do that, either. 

In class, I encourage people to think about the muscles they're working, and this is a good example of how that can translate into every day activities. In the first set of photos above, I was actually setting myself up for potential back strain if I kept moving this way for any length of time. In the second, I was much less likely to run into problems. Think about how you're executing even the simplest moves as you go about your day. Are you consciously engaging your core muscles more? Stacking your shoulders above the hip to align your spine? Or are you noticing that you're doing it automatically now without thinking? Regardless of your age, our classes can set you up for good alignment and good habits of movement that you can carry with you for the rest of your life.

Get your WALK on!
Nancy Ehle
Certified WALK Leader
Owner, Witness 4 Fitness