Forget Fitness: Do Human Things

Did the human organism really evolve to squat with barbells?

The big, messy problem of this fitness and movement culture stuff is that we’re developing crazy physical prowess devoid of all context. We emphasize the superhuman at the expense of the human. It’s glaringly obvious on Instagram; we’re flooded with sexy movements, performed in isolation, in heavily edited environments. We’re so focused on getting our bodies ready for life that we forget to live.

A few key reflections can help us put this in perspective and bring a bit of life back to our practice.

The Evolutionary Perspective on Health

I love this concept. It’s brilliantly simple. I first heard these questions from Dr. Andreo Spina at the Functional Range Conditioning seminar. If we want a clear picture of how to organize our training, we can ask ourselves these questions to point the way:

1. What did the human animal evolve to do?

Let’s pump the brakes before the paleo fans go into a frenzy, extrapolating some idealized version of our ancestral behaviors. We don’t know the specifics what the human animal evolved to do. However, based on contextual cues we can make some guesses:

  • Food didn’t exist; plants and animals did. There was likely quite a bit of moving through natural environments to acquire plants and animals. And of course, the decidedly unsexy acts of processing said plants and animals into something we might call food.
  • There was no work and no Netflix. We likely spent a lot of time sitting around in leisure.
  • We weren’t always undisputed food chain champs. As with most other animal species, we’d have to play defense now and then, moving quickly, outmaneuvering or outsmarting the predators.
  • We didn’t spend much time alone. When survival is at stake, you tribe up real quick. And modern neuroscience has shown us that our brains are geared for social interactions.
  • Oh, yeah. Sex. You and I wouldn’t be here without it.

If we put this into a rough sketch, humans as we know them came into being frequently moving together in diverse ways through complex environments.

2. What do we currently do with it?

By and large, we do large bouts of nothing, with the occasional burst of something called fitness. And we do it alone, because relationships require a scary level of vulnerability. You know this. I know this. Which leads us to…

3. What do we do on a daily basis to address the deficiency?

Here’s where that uncomfortable issue of choice comes into play. What will you choose to do every single day to make up for such a broad gap?

The first step is reclaiming your body’s ability to move. Improving your capacity to do human things (see question #1) makes life easier. But if the extent of your fitness journey is relegated to the prep phase, you’re still missing a step. Get off the bench and go live.

As we say in MovNat, it’s time to reclaim your nature.

You can’t take care of your body once in a while:

Mobility Matters Every Day

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