Author Archives: B32 Athletics
Before we begin… A disclaimer
Going barefoot is not the magic bullet. Newsflash – there isn’t one. But it may be a piece of the puzzle for you. And if some of this article does resonate with you, then take your transition to barefoot gradually. You wouldn’t take your arm out of a cast it had been in for twenty years and expect to go twenty rounds on the punching bag without injuring yourself, would you? Apply the same logic to your poor feet. Go slow and let the structures adapt gradually over time. And note that this article is NOT about how to transition to barefoot running. There are lots of great resources on how to do that out there (Google is your friend), but this is not one of them.
Now for the juicy bits…
Barefoot. If you’re plugged into the health and fitness realm you’ve probably noticed the term is popping up all around the place at the moment. And if you’ve worn shoes your entire life and the thought of going outside without them on sounds a bit daft, then you’ve probably asked – what’s all the fuss about? Let’s take a look.
The Importance of the foot
As a quick google will reveal, the foot and ankle comprise 26 bones, 33 joints and over a 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons. The foot is the start of a myofascial line which runs from your toes to the top of your head – yes, that means your foot has a direct line of influence to your noggin. Every step we take, our foot initiates (unless it isn’t allowed to initiate – more on that shortly) a cascade of muscular actions that flows up our leg and throughout the body. Consider the fact we take an average of 10,000 steps a day, and that in running, forces through the foot can exceed three times bodyweight and you may begin to get a sense of how important this structure is. Given this complexity and interconnectedness then it really should not come as a surprise that the health of the feet has an impact on every link in the movement chain of which it is a part – which is to say most of them.
Almost everyone understands that a tight, inactive and immobile shoulder will lead to poor movement patterns and pain both down the arm and through the back and neck (and beyond). That is just dysfunction in one joint. But we immobilize the feet without a second thought (33 joints remember), wrapping them up in shoes with as much padding as we can, wearing insoles and orthotics to stop the joints moving, and doing our best to stop our feet from ever actually touching the ground. Is it any wonder we have sore ankles, knees and back and need to seek guidance and treatment from health and fitness professionals to get things working again!? Perhaps if we applied the same logic to our feet that we accept so readily for our shoulder, letting them do what they have evolved to do over 150 thousand-odd years, then some of these problems may not manifest in the first place.
The benefits of barefoot
For the foot to be healthy it needs to be able do what any part of us needs to be able to do – move through a full range of motion, to have strong and relaxed musculature and to be proprioceptively switched on (so we know where our foot is in space and we can alter muscular action quickly in response to stimuli).
Full range of motion includes pronation (where the foot rolls inwards towards the midline of the body and the arch of the foot flattens against the floor, and which so many of us wear orthotics to prevent) and supination (rolling outwards) as well as toes that move (including those pesky little toes.)
So if your foot experiences none of these – you clunk around like a baby elephant on flat arches and squeal when they touch anything harder than your comfy explorer socks – then I suspect you may guess my prescription: take off your shoes.
Strong and alive feet will allow you to walk on more awkward surfaces and step on rocks without pain, not because the skin is calloused and thick (although this does help), but because they are able to react and adjust to different surfaces quickly, rather than just thudding onto them. And strong and alive feet will help give all the links up the chain their best chance to be able to react and move like they are meant to. Which means healthier and more resilient knees, ankles and back.
Here are a few things to try to get your feet switched on and stronger. Note that your feet will be sensitive when you first start off, so be gentle.
1. Take your shoes off more.
This is kinda obvious, but think about how many times in a day you could be barefoot and you’re not. Do you wake up and put your shoes on to walk around the house? Do you put your shoes on to go to the letterbox. Why? Take them off. Socks too.
2. Walk barefoot in the grass.
If you haven’t done this for a while you’ll be amazed at how grounding it is and how nice it feels, and the sensations of the grass are great for firing up the nerve endings and bringing your feet back to life. Find some longish, green grass that hasn’t been mown for a while and walk around in it. Leave your MP3 player in the car (also your smartphone, GPS, water bottle, tablet and your to do lists – you can do it). Stop, close your eyes, scrunch your toes up and dig them into the earth and take three deep breaths and see how good it feels. And then realise you can do this whenever you want.
3. Walk barefoot at the beach.
Much like number 2, but at the beach. While you’re there also take the opportunity to walk on the rocks at the rockpools and feel the sensations of the different rocks. Get your feet wet, even if the water is cold. Especially if the water is cold.
Balancing starts to challenge and develop the musculature of the feet in ways that walking will not, and once you get into it you’ll realise how much fun it is. One of my favourite ways to practice my barefoot balancing is simply on the rocks and sleepers in my back yard. I’ve got an obstacle course I’ve figured out that gets me from the backdoor to the compost bin without touching the ground (getting the chores done while barefoot balancing is winning.) Another easy place to start balancing is on the log barriers at your local park or oval. And remember, you don’t have to be high in the air and at risk of falling to your death for it to count as balancing.
5. Combine #3 & 4: Balance AT the beach
Why not get creative and combine a couple at once?! Balancing on wet rock surfaces, washed up wood and tricky-shaped shells at the beach is a great way to get your feet connected back with the earth, and to have them experience some different sensations you don’t get every day.
6. Appreciate your feet
Seriously. Pay them some attention, some love. For most of us, our feet carry us around for 70+ years and through a bunch of tough times – that’s a whole lotta work. Massage and rub your feet, or better yet, have someone else do it for you. Things like reflexology, shiatsu and just general touch will improve the connection of your foot to your body (and you to your foot.) There are even prescriptions where touching, massaging and appreciating the foot can not only get things firing but can also heal injury and ailment in that area. Energy follows energy. Give it a crack.
How did you feel when you woke up today?
Tired and uninterested in what your Monday has to offer?
Find yourself always conking out on the couch each day, only to live for the week end?
Is it time to live your life?
If you experienced Mondayitis today or have ever felt trapped in a life that is less than satisfying – & lets face it haven’t we all at some point – this short documentary with SLOMO may just get some juices flowing in time for ENRICH this Thursday evening. This cat may come across as a bit odd for some, however his message is legit and he touches on some well known (but sadly vastly under-utilised) universal truths on flow with his take on the Zone . Living in the moment reminders akin to The Power of Now and simple Follow Your Bliss statements like “do what you love”.
6 days till Monday (& Mondayitis) rolls around again.
ENRICH. Your life.
“Everyone has the capacity to dream up and believe anything he wants to. The shrinks or the psycho analysts will call it a personal delusional system and you believe it because you choose to” – SLOMO
ENRICH. Your life. – Thursday 6-8pm Thursday 17th July.
So often we hear the lines “just drop the fear”, “take action”, “live your purpose” in the realm of coaching and motivation. These “just do it” ideals are all action, jumping straight to a proposed solution to your unhappiness and inner dissatisfaction without even considering any inner evolution or journey.
It’s all show and surface level. When we attempt to follow this advice, we find it works for a little while, but then we’re back searching for new motivation, new lines, new solutions. If you want something to really change, read on.
There are 4 key questions to ask yourself if you want real change:
1. What is my resistance to change?
2. Where did I learn to operate in limited life constructs and what are they?
3. What is the identity I derive from these constructs?; and
4. Am I willing to let go of who I think I am in order to be my true powerful self?
Without delving into these questions AND doing the hardest work of all – being faced with our Self, we stay in our patterns of suffering with no real, sustainable success. ENRICH will give you the tools to look at these questions, to begin your journey.
A real and living component of any change is the dynamic of doing the hard work while simultaneously supporting yourself. It’s about living a balance of challenge and support. ENRICH helps you see the “why?” in the challenge, helping you to begin cultivating a supporting life in line with your values, your truth. From this place we have growth.
ENRICH is the seminar that shares the tools and insights to living a higher life.
Ross Blake – B32 Athletics Integrative Health Coach.
Thursday 17 July, 6-8pm.
By Ross Blake
A balanced relationship with your body comes not from controlling it for future gains, but from listening to what it requires in the moment.
We all have different biomechanics and different ways of moving that we have learned via repeated patterns in our life. It’s what makes us all beautifully unique. Just look around at your next run at how people move—it’s fascinating to see how we all fall into our own trusted patterns. Some of these patterns serve us really well, and others don’t. The one thing that truly determines whether our individual movement patterns work for us is how well we are able to be in our bodies when we move—our body presence.
Body presence is the internally oriented focus we are able to maintain when faced with a challenge. It enables us to feel, sense and hear body signals—the broadcasts that let us know when we’re deviating from efficient movement patterns. Lose this internal focus and we generally default to using our minds to push beyond our body’s signals, often leading to inefficiency and possibly injury.
Our minds cling to thoughts and ideals, and to how we think we should be progressing during any given moment. This clinging distracts us from hearing what our body requires and often leads to conflict between what the mind thinks and what the body needs. Most often our minds will win this battle, separating us from our body, leading to inefficiency, postural changes and a disengagement from what the body requires to smoothly and successfully move through a physical challenge.
When you move, your body language tells how present you are in your body. Any loud moans, rising tight shoulders, and, head twisting pain faces while labouring up an incline, tell a story of a body in distress—a story of not being present and ignoring body sensations. Such sensations are a communication to change something about the way you’re moving—it may be to ease up a little or drop your expectations, for instance. Ignoring these signals causes the body to communicate a little louder, perhaps to tighten up your back, cramp up a leg, making your movement uncomfortable and inefficient until you tune in.
Listen to these sensations, however, and maintain body presence, and you’ll be able to maintain your rhythm and efficiency, stay injury free and move through your physical challenges much more smoothly.
Read the full piece and obtain 4 useful insights on how to cultivate Body Presence & Movement Efficiency over at FIT – Females In Training
Originally coined years ago as a reminder to relax into our bodies during movement, the phrase “move & breathe” has evolved to become much more than that. It has evolved to become a bit of a theme for life.
Every day, we are called to become a more elegant version of ourselves, through experiences, conversations, challenges, relationships and interactions with our bodies and the world around us.
“Move” reminds us to be open to the shifts and expansion available to us – it reminds us to continually move toward being that ever more elegant version of ourselves.
But with all expansion, there must be support and integration. There must be time to be still, accept and absorb. “Breathe” reminds us to be patient, to sit in the still phases and to enjoy where our current life phase has taken us so far.
Move toward being yourself. Breathe to support that movement. With movement, there must be breath, and where there is breath there is space for movement.
Limited batch guys and girls T’s. $40 each.
by Joelle Collard
Ugh… look at those thighs. I should go for a run.
Can I have that muffin? I’ll work it off later.
Look at her… she has perfect skin; mine will never look like that.
We’ve all heard it. That internal nattering, the thought ping pong we play in our own heads. From breakfast to lunch to that tiring drive from work to the gym, we engage in these battles, compromises, bargaining and judgment – all of, and with ourselves.
Our internal dialogue is like a manic and misdirected screenplay illustrating just how we feel about ourselves. It shows us the battles we’re fighting and where there’s a conflict and longing for something different from what we have right now. It shows us our story of “not enough”. It’s within that screenplay we restrict our true desires, where successfully dampening and controlling them leads to a sense of power and piousness, helping us, for a small moment, feel like we’re enough. Bow to these desires however, and we feel utterly shameful, powerless and low.
… In either case, the control of desire, the stomping on of appetite, the personal punishment we put ourselves through, can only lead to one place… more control. More stomping. More punishment. More “no”. It can never lead to the thing we all truly desire underneath it all… happiness. Gentleness. Freedom. And, above all, love of Self.
“Between Zero and One” follows world-renowned musician Jojo Mayer on a journey to redefine the drum set in modern culture and his cross-examination of human nature with creativity in the digital age. Short film by Travis Satten
“The more advanced the machines will be the more human we will have to become” – JoJo Mayer
by Joelle Collard & Ross Blake
Simple. Tasty. DIY-able. Fresh orange juice is one of life’s simplest pleasures that has more to offer us nutritionally than current diet trends would have you believe.
Come on… give it a chance…
OMG it’s sugar.
Oranges, whether you have them squeezed or not, are a form of carbohydrate – and that means sugar to the body. Sugar is a really interesting substance, in that there are times at which minimising it in the diet is really quite good for some folks, and other times where adding it back in is absolutely essential to allow balance across a range of systems in the body.
Essentially, your body runs on sugars – adequate carbohydrate allows for metabolic efficiency.
Too much of it and the system becomes dependent on it, overloaded with stored energy and the lack of need to use it effectively (it’s always available!)
Too little sugar limits resources in the body and creates a situation where those resources must be drawn away from other tissues and processes in order to maintain some kind of homeostasis. When we really limit resources, and that need for resource pulling accelerates, overall reserves in the system begin to dwindle and various processes begin to be impaired, or shut down entirely.
OJ is a great source of natural sugars to keep your system happy and humming.
But what about the fructose?!
One medium to large orange has about 20g of total CHO, made up of:
This is a really lovely blend of sugars to have in a food… the sucrose and glucose are absorbed really well into the cells, and the fructose is a primary source of fuel for your liver, absorbing there and going on to help make and transport important things like sex steroid hormones, convert thyroid hormone to its active form, and provide resources for detoxification of the entire system.
If you suffer from skin issues, cold hands and feet, weight loss/gain issues, low heart rate and/or dark circles under the eyes, you may be needing a little more fuel (fructose) for your liver.
To pulp or not to pulp…
To some, this is just a matter of preference, but from a functional nutrition standpoint, if you have gut issues or sensitivity, including symptoms like bloating, gas, heaviness after meals or difficulty digesting proteins, you may want to opt for pulp-free.
The little particles of pulp in OJ are essentially fibre that goes toward feeding gut bacteria. Great in some circumstances, unless you already have some kind of bacterial dysbiosis (imbalance) or overgrowth. If we feed too much of the wrong kinds of bacteria, or create a situation where there is an excess of bug-food in your gut, they’ll create what’s called endotoxins in the system. Endotoxins are bacterial byproducts of reproduction and feeding (i.e. effectively bug poo), when in over-abundance, can create toxicity and a huge load on the liver.
Go seasonal, go local, mean it…
You’ll notice a difference in the quality and happiness of your OJ experience based on whether the fruit used is currently in season and whether or not it’s been shipped here from some crop a million miles away.
If you’re squeezing you’re own, consider the following:
** Quality of produce – go for organic, local in-season oranges to get the biggest bang for your buck – both taste, experience and nutritionally. They’ll help deliver the exact nutrient spectrum you need for the environment and season you’re in right now.
** The intent you put into your DIY-ing – take some care and reverence for the food experience you’re creating – we promise it’ll change the end product. If you’re madly pushing oranges into a juicer p*ssed off at your partner, kids or the day you’ve had a work – you’ll taste the bitterness that creates. Squeeze with love.
More than just a juice…
Think about that feeling of alive-ness you get from slurping down on a cold, freshly squeezed juice! That means more than just excitable taste buds. Generally, that feeling of vitality means you’re feeding your cells something that makes them truly happy, in an absolute, humming vitality sense (not just a sense of sugar hit.) This is a good sign. Pleasure is good. Sink into it a bit more often and you’ll see some amazing health results!
On this, slow-down while you drink your bevvy. Gulping it means you miss the entire, amazing, sweet experience of fresh OJ, and also means you bypass elements of the beginnings of digestion and satiety signals. The bottom line is, you’ll enjoy it less and want to drink more and more of it. And, just like all things, OJ giveth until it taketh away.
As with all food, an orange is just an orange. There is no such thing as a “good” or a “bad” food, and each has something to offer us nutritionally and nourishment-wise under the right circumstances. Interestingly enough, the more you label a food as negative, the more negative effects you will find you have in response to that food. Perspective and attitude matters when you eat. Lighten up.
So, next time, instead of passing on an amazing, freshly squeezed juice at your fave breakfast place (or the awesome OJ dude at the Kingston Bus Depot Markets), how about you give it an open-minded, pleasure-filled crack. You may just find your next superfood.
by Ross Blake
There are methods and approaches to fitness that range form potent to problematic, blends of both science and practice, many claiming a fix all – an answer and a way. But since we all have different definitions of what fitness actually is and what it means to us, who knows what the answer is, and how can we claim we have a set “way”? Fitness is not something you can get or have. You don’t find or reach an end point of fitness. It’s something you are, something you need to experience.
It’s easy to get caught up in the melodrama of fitness. There are methods and sales pitches everywhere that drive outcomes, goals and a way to live your life. These can all push you to deviate from what it is you actually need from fitness in the present moment. Just imagine… You’re heading off to be in the gym, to do what has been planned days ago, when you actually crave green grass, the ocean or a mountaintop. Instead you “stick to the plan” and continue to the gym anyway. You essentially deny a true part of yourself and compromise your own needs in order to stick with the “plans” and the “shoulds”. We’ve all done it. This is not limited to the gym either – there are many times we remain in a given routine, feeling a lack of fulfilment, resonance or growth, yet stay the course “because thats what I do”, “that’s what I’ve always done”, despite having some internal inkling that it’s not quite right for us.
This denial of self is an ignorance of the intuitive wisdom our bodies are relaying to us all the time. Your body communicates to you about what you need at every given moment. Ignoring this information in favour of “sticking to the plan” lends itself to no acknowledgement of what it is we desire and crave in a fitness experience. These desires and cravings are just as (if not more) valid than any methodology when it comes to developing health and fitness, and so by ignoring them, we miss out on what we really need from fitness, limiting our own personal growth (physically and otherwise.)
There is another way. An approach that is fluid and interpreted by you in real time, allowing space for you to deepen your connection to your body and yourself. One that informs you on how and why you move as an integrated part of your life. This approach is what we call Thematic Fitness.
Thematic Fitness anchors your experience of fitness in three elements – what life is calling you to learn, what you crave and the personal, physical essence you bring to movement.
Using these anchoring points, we can create a means by which you can simply tap into what it is you need right now, rather than feeling like you must adhere to some set way, developed by somebody else. Your real time needs are what govern what each movement or exercise session looks like and how you approach it at any point in time. It’s an entirely liberating way to experience fitness, derived by you, for you, free from the assumptions and control of some other party or method.
You can take your theme and apply it in any context – outdoors, the gym, at home, wherever. The beauty of thematic training is that it helps you honour yourself and remain true to what you need – whatever the environment. This may even mean communicating with your fitness professional about how they can incorporate your theme into the sessions they plan for you.
Finding your theme:
Essentially, your theme is made up of three words that encompass what you need to bear in mind when planning, making decisions around, and being in the midst of movement or exercise sessions. Each of these words reflects one of the anchoring points mentioned above.
When developing your theme, consider the following questions.
1. What is life calling you to learn?
Life reflects our growth. To figure out what it is we need from fitness we firstly need to connect with what are being called to learn across life’s experiences. This is key. There is no firewall between our relationships to food & sex, money & movement and lifestyle & relationship. What we need to learn in and through life, we need to learn in and through fitness, and vice versa.
What are you being called to learn in life? (e.g. Are you feeling hectic? Too constrained or controlled? Perhaps you’re being called to learn trust, to let go, or patience. Any of these could be the first of your theme words.)
Use the table below to help you come up with your word if you need to (pick one from the first column that resonates.)
2. What do you desire?
At our deepest core, we desire to be at peace, to indulge in what satisfies our soul and allow space for what we crave our experience to be. This step is about giving yourself permission to allow those cravings to be heard in fitness, to be experienced through movement and enable a deepening connection to your body. This is space for honouring your desires and what you’re craving to experience.
Do you desire to be challenged? Do you desire to try something new? Do you desire to slow down? If you desire and crave nature then that’s where you need to immerse yourself. If you desire to be challenged then you need to consider this in your fitness choices, if you desire interaction then you need to give yourself the opportunity to move with others.
Use the table below to help you come up with your word if you need to (pick one from the second column that resonates.)
Connecting with your desires create guidance when times get tough, when you’re unsure of what to do and opens up the experience when’re there is a fork in the road and decisions to be made. Know that even if you try to ignore your cravings and desires, they will eventually rear their heads. So acknowledge and incorporate them into your experience from the outset to get exactly what you need, and avoid fighting yourself at every turn.
3. What do you resonate with?
Your personal essence hugely impacts the way you experience specific types of fitness, and thus absolutely needs some air time when working out your themes. When we talk about essence, we’re talking about your personality in fitness and the kinds of movement that really resonate with you, and likely always have. These are the areas of fitness you don’t need to force – they just seem to jive and suit you really well.
Your essence is something you can always come back to. It supports your other two theme areas and provides a foundation for your fitness experience to expand.
- If you have resonated with more powerful forms of movement like sprinting, jumping, lifting and throwing then at your essence you may be more punchy, powerful and explosive.
- If you have resonated with more playful forms of movement like climbing, hanging upside down and ball sports then at your essence you may be more agile, playful and fast.
- If you have resonated wit more enduring forms of movement like distance events and slow movement then at your essence you may be more enduring and strong.
- Choose a key word that represents your essence – your fitness personality. Use the table below to help you come up with your word if you need to (pick one from the third column that resonates.)
Make sure you have just three words on your list you feel truly encompass an experience (life or fitness) you really resonate with and look forward to. Your three words should incite a feeling of relief, excitement and a feeling of really wanting to get in there and do it (rather than feeling like you have to drag yourself to do x, y, z.
Thematic Fitness in practice:
Your three words, your theme, frames your decisions around movement. Everything from training environment (e.g. gym, outdoor, pool?), duration of movement, frequency of sessions in a given week, who you do your movement with (e.g. with a friend or on your own), rep numbers, types of movements (e.g. running, squats, climbing, horse-riding, gymnastics) can be included. At a higher level, these three words can form little mantras you use in your fitness journey right now.
As an example, if you picked trust, challenge and playful as your theme, you might apply it in the following way:
- I trust the challenges I choose to engage in will take me where I need to go in fitness right now.
- Pick fitness experiences and movements you feel challenge you – perhaps running is something you’ve been keen to explore, but nervous about the challenge. This could be the time to try it.
- Indulge in movements and experiences that are playful, and know that these are a legitimate component of your fitness – e.g. throwing a frisbee around for an afternoon with a friend is a perfect way to immerse yourself in fitness, and will absolutely contribute to your health, vitality and physicality if this is one of your theme words.
If you picked mindfulness, breathing and explosive:
- You might choose to engage in some barefoot, natural-style movement outdoors over rough terrain to encourage mindfulness.
- Set an intent to be mindful of your breath while moving and stationary. You may employ a policy of taking three, deep belly breaths before movement and all meals.
- Explosive could mean you engage in short, fast bursts of activity punctuated with more conscious, mindful movement. It could mean jumping, sprinting, kettle bell swings, or engaging in more olympic lifting within your sessions.
“The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.” – Carl Jung
Thematic Fitness is a way of entirely personalising your fitness journey, tailoring it to exactly what you need to learn and how you need to grow to become a fitter, healthier and more evolved human being. There is absolutely no “one-size-fits-all” methodology that can give you what you need, because everyone’s journey with fitness is different, and ever-evolving.
Your themes allow you to become immersed in the journey of fitness, rather than simply focusing on the outcome. To focus solely on the outcome instantly creates a state where we are not enough as we are, where we need to become something more to be worthy. It keeps us striving for something external to ourselves, never allowing us to enjoy where we are right now. Conversely, to be immersed in the journey, the experience, is to accept exactly where and who we are at this moment, and, invariably informs the outcomes we get from fitness anyway!
Connecting with where you are at and acknowledging what you need at any given moment in time is the path to gaining the most from your fitness experience.
The sooner we connect with the fact that fitness is a journey, not an outcome, the more we get from our day to day movement experiences in a physical sense, and in every other sense as well.
Need a little more on thematic fitness? Check out our audio on the subject here.