It must be. The proof is in the way people say that ‘they are uncoordinated’ as a preface to any exercise that they are about to partake in. The proof is in how in Australia (yep – this is definitely not a worldwide phenomenon), we are removing any workouts with any challenging level of coordination from time tables and schedules. The proof is in how the pendulum has swung from workouts that challenged the body and mind to only challenging the body.
This is been a slow evolution but it occurred to me a couple of weeks ago, having had another one of those conversations with a self-proclaimed uncoordinated person, that years ago people didn’t complain about coordination challenges. In fact, they welcomed it. It was as if being fit, lean, coordinated, flexible and strong was the goal people were striving for when they exercised. I started thinking why it had changed. Certainly we have the same number of arms and legs that we had then. The brain seems to be about the same size and capacity. Maybe it is because as a society we sit for such long periods of time we have lost the use of our arms and legs, or is it something else?
I wondered if because of all sedentary activities, we had lost the ability to activate our muscles with mental commands? Or perhaps we were not challenging that aspect of our brains, that this area was poorly developed?
Having the opportunity to teach all ages, it has amazes me that my older adult participants appreciate exercises that engage their minds. In fact, they say to me – often, that this is really good for their brains and their COORDINATION. They love the challenges and with determined looks on their faces, they strive to complete whatever is required. They appreciate that it might not happen today, but it will happen and when they finally achieve their desired goal, the look on their faces is priceless. How is it, that at a certain age, coordination comes a necessity and not just ‘something that you have to be dancer for’? I then considered, at what age was that?
Being able to look at an exercise or everyday task and know how to position my body to achieve the goal is really important to me. Fumbling and clumsily trying to complete activities is not something that I want to ever experience regularly. This is one of the reasons why I took up Booty Barre this year, because it really challenged me mentally (and my butt and thighs too – but that was definitely a secondary reason). This is why I love Gymstick as it increases my neutral activation and helps me to understand how my body is working and connected together. The language that people use needs to change and as a fitness industry we can do that. I don’t accept people saying that they are uncoordinated. I have a brother that is mentally challenged and so I know what real un-coordination looks like. I like rephrasing their words to – I haven’t done this before, but I would like to give it my best shot today. That is all that is necessary. Surely no one thinks that they will be experts at a particular movement after their first workout, but after the first session, they are on their way to creating new neutral pathways.
Sure, being able to run up a hill is functional form of intensity training, but I also hope to miss the rocks that I might have tripped over too. Coordination is important for everything.