Training doesn’t always have to be structured and goal-oriented to yield results.
We tend to get caught up in “getting the skill” or “getting a good workout,” and while those goals have their place, if we never take the time to explore movement without any specific goals in mind, we lose out on a sense of play and freedom.
In this post, we’ll look at what play is, why we think it’s important for everyone to engage in, and we’ll give you three movements to try out.
What is “Play” and How Can You Make it Part of Your Life?
Unlike the structured approach we generally associate with formal exercise, play is a way to explore movement without any structure at all, much like we did as kids – figuring out all manner of possibilities for maneuvering ourselves from point A to point B.
But since most of us have never explored movement in this way as adults, it’s a completely foreign concept. It might sound nice in theory, but you might have a hard time picturing what it looks like.
In an ideal world, I wouldn’t have to provide any instruction at all – you’d just get down on the ground and start playing. But since that’s so far outside our typical conception of movement or exercise, most people need some kind of a framework to start from.
With that said, the instructions I provide here are merely suggestions and examples. As long as you are being safe, and not pushing your body to do things it may not be ready for, there are endless ways you can modify and explore each of these movements, so don’t be afraid to really dive in to that feeling of play.
Don’t just blindly follow my instructions – really feel the movements and figure out the most comfortable way of approaching each one. I want you to explore the details for yourself.
The pointers I’ll give you here are just to give you a basic understanding of the movements, and to give you some tips for safety.
Click here to view a video tutorial with these movements.
- Start with your hands and feet on the ground.
- You may straighten your arms and legs, or keep them bent – whatever feels most comfortable or challenging!
- As you move your right hand forward, move your left foot forward as well. Then switch.
- Play around with speed, hand and foot placement, and whatever else you’d like to work on.
- This movement is an evolution of movement #1 – the idea is the same, but you’ll bring your opposite arm and leg off the ground for a second or two before lowering and switching to the opposite side.
- Again, play with speed, height of your hands and feet, angle of your knees, etc.
- With the third variation, you will drop your hips lower to the ground.
- When you step your leg up along with the opposite arm, bring your knee as close to the same side arm as possible and drop your body down.
- This move will be almost like a push-up variation as well.
These three movements are just a tiny glimpse into the world of movement exploration. It’s not about doing a certain number of reps or sets of any exercise, and it’s not about increasing your workload over time. It’s about allowing your body’s movements to evolve naturally and in ways that are comfortable and fun for you.
Yes, movements like these might be challenging – but a challenge is not the same as a “workout.” Take the opportunity to explore and have fun with the movements.
Ryan Hurst is the head coach of GMB, a fitness program that emphasizes fun, smart exercise for physical autonomy. With many years of experience in strength and movement coaching, Ryan makes sure that everything GMB does puts health first and gets results. He holds black belts in Kendo, Judo, and Shorinji Kempo and practiced 10 years as a competitive gymnast.