In the 20th century, the American architect Louis Sullivan was credited with coining the phrase – “form follows function”.
In the world of industrial design and modern architecture at that time, structures were built with the idea that form should follow function. The prevailing thought process for architects and builders was that the shape of the structure should be designed primarily based on the intended use.
You are not a structure that we can build over again.
You were given a certain structure genetically from your parents.
What have you have done with that genetic architectural blueprint over the years?
The current function (or dysfunction) of your body however has much to do with the movement and exercise (or lack thereof) that you put into practice on a daily basis.
No disrespect Mr. Sullivan, but the way I see it, your function follows your form.
Fitness has become unnecessarily complicated, confusing, and convoluted over the past more than 25 years I have been an active participant and educator in the health and fitness industry.
Workout trends, fads, and fitness flops come and go. Anybody still doing Tae Bo? Still running on that Gazelle in your living room? It’s cool if you are. I’m not judging. At least you are maintaining some activity.
The fundamentals of how to achieve and maintain quality movement, strength, power and balance have not really changed in decades.
The packaging and delivery of the product has, and each year something new and shiny hits the scene grabbing attention as the latest breakthrough in fitness…… for a while.
We have gotten away from the essentials of what is required to maintain function as we age:
- Foundational and fundamental movements and exercises we could all do as kids, but lose as we fold ourselves into chairs several hours per day
- Understanding optimal position and posture throughout our workday (Hint: It’s not having your body wrapped into a desk and face jammed into a computer or phone screen 10 hours per day)
- Testing and correcting movement, exercises, and postures based on the individual demands you place on the body
- Regularly scheduled maintenance
Exercise does not have to be complicated.
Exercise does not have to be torture.
If it is, you are not likely to make it part of your lifestyle. And if some form of exercise is not part of your lifestyle, your health will suffer. Guaranteed.
10 Steps To Evaluate and Optimize Your Exercise Experience:
[I adapted these from an article I read from functional movement, rehabilitation, and performance expert Gray Cook
1. Evaluate your movement and performance baselines (preferably with the help of a qualified personal trainer, physical therapist, or reputable fitness professional)
2. Own your movement patterns. Simple and basic movements first, without load and then with load, and always with integrity – form above everything else.
3. If you are stiff, breathe, get healthy, and then get to work on improving your mobility
4. Embrace whole movement patterns first: run, jump, carry, climb
5. Limit isolation exercises that are body part-oriented, don’t make sense, or seem supplementary
6. If you are not strong, carry and lift stuff, with good form
7. Watch your body and movement patterns change, and see improvement as you compare to your baseline.
8. Watch your performance. The first requirement of performance is participation and if your body is messed up, hurting after activity, you are not going to be a participant.
9. Work with someone to figure out why your body is hurting or functioning poorly, build correctives, and participate.
10. Have fun, don’t complicate it, and enjoy your simple, basic and whole exercise program.
Exercise should never be torture. Some folks enjoy the agony of training. The “no pain, no gain” mentality. Good for them.
You want to challenge your body every workout, but your goal should not be to push it to the brink of damage repeatedly. That is a formula that will likely guarantee an injury and a consultation in my office before too long.
I believe exercise should be a vehicle to deliver better health, better function, vitality, and enhance your quality of life.
Find some form of exercise that makes you feel great, and keep doing it for as long as you can. This is non-negotiable if you are interested in optimal function as you age.
P.S. Looking for a fitness professional to take your exercise and performance to the next level? For years I have trusted my patients to Danny Sawaya and his team at Evolution Fitness and to Chris Litten and his team at Body Basics. They will help you with everything on the list above, and then some.