I’m sharing my handstand obsession for one more week as I wrap up this 2-part post on Work & Play. But the handstand talk will be at a minimum (really just a video of me going honey badger on some inversions). This post is bigger than just handstands, it’s all about infusing your life with more play. Last post on doing the work might have only made sense to other movement junkies. But I’m trying to get everyone in on the love. The motivation for this particular crusade stemmed from years of watching people in the gym and seeing that very few people enjoy their fitness pursuits for purely intrinsic reasons. Even among those people who are highly consistent, true enjoyment is somewhat rare. For a long time I couldn't understand why so many people were less than psyched to be working out.
And then I realized the modern face of fitness is just extremely bland. Look at the typical gym these days, it’s not exactly…engaging / interesting / inspiring / communal / spontaneous / creative / energetic. And that’s a problem.
When we repeatedly associate moving with tedious effort we’re conditioning ourselves to view movement as tedious. When movement is perceived as tedious, rather than personally fulfilling, the results and the consistency just won't be there. What really drove home this realization for me was venturing out onto a playground for a workout with no plan, no intention other than to move, playfully. Seriously, you should just try it sometime.
You could get with this...
or you could get with that.
Hold up now, this isn’t a judgement or even a black & white discussion. The issue is about balance - have you seen yours lately? For all your hard work and training, when was the last time you let yourself just play? Not just like playing Bags in your friend’s backyard. No, when was the last time you applied some kind of playful mindset to your fitness? Been a while huh? I don’t blame you. I’d venture that millions of people gravitate towards CrossFit in part because seeing a well-designed box elicits feelings of the playgrounds we loved as kids. (Of course that’s not the extent of my CrossFit opinions, but will save that story for another time.)
Play is about spontaneity, improvisation, and getting lost in the moment - these are products of our often under-utilized / under-appreciated right brain functioning.
But even when we get a space to play, we typically fuck it up. Adults in our culture have this uncanny ability to get super caught up in the overly logical, left brain type thinking that limits our creative problem solving abilities and mental plasticity. The result is an increasing inability to roll with the punches and adapt to a world that is unpredictable is so many respects. We may have the perseverance to grind it out for years, but as the saying goes - don't take life too seriously, you'll never make it out alive. I can speak from my own experience of years spent on the proverbial fitness hamster wheel. At some point you're exhausted, aching, frustrated and uninspired so you get off and ask yourself “why?” I’ve found regardless of my training methods I still have to frequently revisit and rediscover my why’s (and why not’s).
Why do I need any of these handbalancing skills? -You don’t.
Why did I pursue this journey? -Because it’s super fun, not because it’s paying the bills
So then why am I getting so frustrated? -Because frustration / impatience / jealousy is what egos do. Tell your ego to chill out.
Oh yeah, fun. I forgot about that…again.
And that’s the power of this simple word “why” - to bring some awareness and intentionality to our actions. It’s so damn easy to get swept away with chasing goals or comparisons to what going on in land of the internets and before you know it your training has become more of a stressor than an outlet. Play balances our impatient, outcome-focused thinking.
Play brings us back to a place where we move without judgement or without obsession over outcomes. Play brings us to a place of enjoyment and gratitude for the moment where nothing else matters.
And maybe I’m the only one that loses sight of this regularly, but I wouldn’t bet on it. So take a cue from my constant self-reminder. Train to move better. Move better to enjoy life. Lighten up and play.