I really feel like the older I get, and the more I experience life, the more respect I have for the basics.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately.
(The other day we painted at the studio for 6 hours straight - lots of time to think!)
I’ve been thinking about how it seems that, collectively, we’re slowly starting to realize that the speed in which we operate and the instant gratification that’s saturated almost every part of our life may not actually be helping us. In some respects at least.
I reflected that this “instant” reality we live in used to effect me (and since I’m human, still does sometimes.) when it came to fitness. It almost seems to work in a cycle:
- Decides to try a new thing.
- Looks to others who are into the new thing for inspiration.
- Basically immediately attempts to do exactly what the person we admire can do
- Gets frustrated when our chapter 1 doesn’t look like their chapter 10. (Comparison! Happens to all of us!)
- Give up on new thing.
- Feels bad about themselves.
- Forgets experience and repeats with another new thing.
Sound familiar? Same.
Because our world moves so fast, I think it’s seeped into our culture that, “If I’m gonna start something new, I want to instantly be good at it. And if I’m not, I’ll quit rather than slow down and go back to basics.”
Anything to avoid humiliation! (perceived humiliation, most of the time.)
Not only does this do some harm to us emotionally,
but this idea may also harm us physically.
Here’s the thing, the basics aren’t as cool looking as handstands, and pistol squats and splits.
Here’s the other thing, it’s almost a guarantee that at some point, without a strong handle on the basics, those handstands and pistol squats and splits will hurt you. The body is amazing because it’s designed to work in progression and avoid injury. The human body is designed to move. It wants to move and keep you safe while doing it. Its designed to progressively get better and more agile and stronger though mastering the basics and expanding from there.
But because we live in a lighting fast society, we want to skip all the boring foundations and be “advanced” right away. It’s when we push through the progression and try to end up at the “full expression of the pose” or the “advanced version”, without putting in the work to build to it, that we can injure ourselves.
The solution? A shift in mindset. This isn’t about fitness.
This is about self care.
This is giving ourselves a gift.
I really believe that if we can extend love to ourselves in these “fitness class” environments - then it’s possible in all the other areas of our life. If you can be kind to yourself in barre, you can be kind to yourself when you’re running late to work or when you see yourself starting to be spread to thin.
Take a step back look at it objectively. To come back to the basics, in fitness, might mean doing 10 really good solid air squats with healthy form and integrated muscles rather than 20 jump squats done like we’ve got something to prove. (And then wonder why our back or knee hurts later.)
And, overtime, since our body is this incredible living machine, the basics become the launch pad for these things we didn’t even know we could do! Have you ever experienced that feeling? All the sudden having the physical strength to do something you couldn’t do even just a couple weeks ago? It’s so cool. And it’s no accident, your body is so intelligent, it will surprise you how strong you are when you build from the ground up!
So, here is my plea. To you and to myself:
In all things, fitness, self care, our careers and relationships: all the things that make up our lives. May we come back to the basics. May we ENJOY the basics. May we learn to see the basics as an act of self care. That to learn to properly brace your core or move with engaged muscles is an act of self love. If we can be kind to ourselves in class, we can learn to be kind to ourselves in the rest of our life.