(Plus 5 take-aways for you to weave ‘new fitness’ into your practice.)
by Elizabeth Andes-Bell
The Evolution of Fitness
Like the rest of the world, fitness is changing. So are our reasons for wanting to be fit. For this article, I spoke with three leaders in the field, Wendy LeBlanc Arbuckle (WLBA), Chris Morita Clancy (CMC) and Christine Wushke (CW), about how much our growing understanding of fascia and biotensegrity is seeding innovative ways to meet our changing needs to be fit for a changing world.
Turns out it’s not so much about what we do but how we do it, in other words the dharma of our doing.
“Fitness is not about form. It is the unleashing of creative intelligence.” Wendy LeBlanc Arbuckle
Before we look at what’s changing, let’s begin with a vision of where we’d like to see fitness go. What abilities can a future fitness help us acquire?
How can a new type of fitness help us meet and create life in an unpredictable and uncertain world?
What about growing our capacities for adaptability, resilience and longevity?
Throughout Wendy LeBlanc Arbuckle’s career in the Pilates world, her approach has been about how to tap into one’s potency and unleash a creative wave of expression. With practical adaptations and precise cueing, she mentors teachers to feel support from the energy in the fascia and how that, in turn, supports the muscle to move us with less effort and more efficiency. Look for more of Wendy’s wisdom in her forthcoming book, Beyond Core: Your Inner Teacher’s Guide Through Whole Body Awareness, from Handspring Publishing.
While staying within the scope of practice, can fitness also help us heal or resolve physical and emotional trauma enough so that we can move forward?
Christine Wushke has long been fascinated with the psychological and emotional aspects of the continuity of our fascia. Christine brings Hakomi, myofascial work and a wealth of collaborative wisdom into her yoga teacher training programs. She explores balancing the polarities of our emotional and physical bodies while noticing how this arises differently in us. You can find her website here.
How are movement professionals helping fitness evolve so that we all can evolve too?
Chris Clancy mentors movement teachers from many modalities with courses on her e-learning site on how to apply biotensegrity to our teaching so that students can heal and train for longevity. She also hosts a book club and has created a lively learning community.
This new vision of fitness is not about our skill at having good form or moving through a sequence of ideal forms, nor is it about reforming your body to conform to an ‘ideal’ form. If we take the machines, mirrors, air pods and TVs out of fitness spaces, we are left with ourselves. We are left with the opportunity to explore how we move, not as an isolated muscle but as a whole-body sensing, feeling and experiencing of our self as a process in relationship to space and time, with our inner and outer spaces and as a dialogue between self, other and environment. This new fitness is sensory-based not performance-based, and also enhances longevity in performance-based activities (dancers and athletes take note.) Our bodies are viewed as processes not objects, with each stage of life valued as an unfolding of self.
No two snowflakes are alike and no two bodies are either. This is not a one-size-fits-all approach. There are no structured exercises for fascial fitness, no sets or reps and no series of sequences to follow. This can create some confusion. However, there is an underlying order, an implicit order, and when it emerges in you, you’re moving with ease, stability and well-being.
A deeper look at how Nature creates sustainable ecosystems with thriving life-forms leads us to the world of biotensegrity. According to Dr. Stephen M. Levin, who originated the theory, all biological organisms are living tensegrities. They find inner equilibrium and outer harmony through the dynamic interaction of self-organizing principles leading them toward balance and synergy.
This natural balancing network lives in us as our fascial web. Initially appearing random and chaotic, fascia finds its coherence via underlying principles of self-organization within a dynamic soup of the swirling forces we call life. Adapting Nature’s principles to any field for better thriving is called biomimicry. Adapting them to training for a better quality of embodied living could be the resource we’re all needing and it’s popping up in all sorts of fitness spaces.
Whatever your modality, here are five take-aways for you to weave ‘new fitness’ into your practice:
Employ fluid movement to hydrate and increase sensory awareness.
Slow down and explore micro-movements.
Play with large, unstructured, uninhibited movement.
Pause to integrate new sensory awareness.
Find the pleasure in it.
Wendy LeBlanc Arbuckle is an embodied explorer coming from a multidisciplinary background. She is the former owner of the Pilates Center of Austin and is currently writing a book for Handspring Publishing entitled: BEYOND CORE: Your Inner Teacher’s Guide Through Whole Body Relationships.
Chris Morita Clancy brings Embodied Biotensegrity courses to yoga teachers and health and wellness professionals through https://e-learning.embodiedbiotensegrity.ca
Christine Wushke is a leading myofascial yoga teacher trainer known for her work
at the intersection of mindful movement, biotensegrity, and myofascial release. You can find her at https://freelyhuman.com.
Further learning resources available to you on this website:
Article by Yasmin Lambat: The sensing and ‘phase changing’ nature of fascia in motion.
A fuller version of this article appears in the Members’ Area. Click here for details.
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