by Roy Palmer
To achieve a high level of fitness for life sounds like hard work – and not just from a the physical point of view. Many fail to maintain fitness because, and let’s be honest, exercise routines can be boring! Where is the fun in doing the same exercises week in week out. Yes there are many who do stick to their regimes, but why devote so much time to something that doesn’t really engage you? Do you remember how much fun a trip to the park was with your friends, a bat and a ball? How much exercise did you get in one afternoon playing a few games?
You may have heard of the Alexander Technique as a method to improve your health by correcting your posture, but it has far more to offer. Learning this highly practical technique can add a new dimension to training giving you a totally new attitude to fitness and physical activity and increasing your chances of staying with a fitness program.
Whether interested in developing total fitness or just looking for relief from the all too common aches and pains, a subtle change in attitude and approach will help you get more from your body. Learning the Alexander Technique helps you develop a better understanding of your body, how it works, how it moves and how to make movement easier so you can do more with less effort. Achieving a high level of fitness for life is within your reach when you know how to use your body correctly. It is ironic that people frequently injure themselves doing activities they believe should be keeping them fit and healthy!
Why does this happen? It is a sad fact that many adults have lost the art of natural movement. We unknowingly develop poor habits that puts excessive stress on joints and muscles. The more you move poorly the better you will get at doing it in this way. End result – injury! I was alarmed when I started learning the Alexander Technique aged twenty-six at just how badly I moved, especially when I considered myself fit and well-informed about my body following years of martial arts, swimming and running!
The term ‘fitness’ generally relates to how far or fast you can run or how well you can perform physical tasks. Yet we should recognise that fitness is important for maintaining health and functionality. Yet fitness is about more than physical abilities – its about being able to do what you want, when you want and to do it well. The right mental attitude and approach are essential for performing at your peak. Of course, you still need to have the body that can meet your demands so you must work on both your physical and mental skills. The good news is that they can be worked on together.
How well do you know your body? If you are looking to maintain fitness for life you are going to be asking a lot from your body, but just how good is your body knowledge? Many are surprised at how their knowledge and understanding of their body differs from your true physical structure when taking Alexander lessons. How you move is based on your concept of how it works. If there are discrepancies between concept and reality this will effect your movement. Again if your objective is to maintain fitness this will have implications.
That’s the bad news, now for the good. Learning the Alexander Technique will not only help you identify where you may be making movement harder, its practical techniques will give you the means to eradicate them altogether. Movement becomes a whole lot easier when you take the habitual brake off!
It also helps to develop your ability to focus which can take you into the Zone, a place where athletes achieve peak performance with little perceived effort. This is where learning the Alexander Technique will deliver real lasting benefits to help you achieve fitness for life. With a new understanding of your body you can approach physical activity and exercise better informed about what works for you. Injury need not be something you need to suffer in order to maintain fitness.
Sports training and exercise should not be viewed as purely a way to physical fitness. With the right approach promoted by the Alexander Technique your training becomes a way to self-improvement beyond physical ability. Fitness now means more than just putting on your tracksuit and going for a run – it can be another path to self-fulfillment and development. Exercise need never be boring or routine again!
Roy Palmer is a teacher of The Alexander Technique and has studied performance enhancement in sport for the last 10 years. Roy teaches in Bedford, Godmanchester, Milton Keynes, Northampton and Olney, England. Website: artofperformance.co.uk