Do you remember middle school fitness tests? Maybe they gave you anxiety (if you’re like me) or maybe it was your time to shine. Think specifically about pull-ups. How many could you do? Do you remember how easy it was to hammer out 5, 10, maybe even 20? What happened to that person? What about the sit and reach? Try doing that now and notice how difficult it is. Maybe your body cracks or you feel a twinge in your lower back.

When did we become so bad moving around or being able to pull our bodyweight?

For me, it started when I really got into shape in my 20s. That sounds weird, doesn’t it? I was in “the best shape of my life” and was completely ignoring my flexibility. If you were around me then you most likely heard me say that stretching is just some old people do. In August 2016 I broke my foot and as a result had to go to physical therapy. While I have core strength in certain areas and can touch my toes with ease, I have atrocious hip flexibility and thus force my knees and feet to do a lot of heavy lifting. At some point, my body was going to tell me I was doing it wrong.

My Body Sucks

That is something my physical therapist heard me say a lot throughout our sessions. Specifically when I needed a rubber band and a heavy kettlebell to perform a deep squat. I’ve heard a lot of people say similar things, “I could never run a mile” or “I could probably lose 20 pounds, but what are you gonna do?” When did bragging about being in terrible shape become cool? Don’t get me wrong, I love “fat guy in a little coat” as much as the next person, but I’ve also started thinking about what kind of life I lead as I get older.

What You Can Do

If you want to reclaim the way your body moves there are a plethora of things you can do. I’d first recommend visiting a physical therapist who has a more movement based philosophy rather than one who is going to try and sell you orthotics (which is a whole other post). Find out where your movement deficiencies are and work on them.

Obviously, you don’t have to see a therapist, there are plenty of great yoga videos and series on YouTube or available in an Android or iOS app to get you started. What’s really changed the game for me is focusing on activities that are more movement based. So you’re moving your body in an awkward, but natural way and as a side effect you gain strength and flexibility. Things like:

If you don’t want to or feel you need to adopt a new philosophy to how you work out, incorporating things that force you to move in ways that feel awkward, like:

Again, if that seems silly or unnecessary to you, but you still want to incorporate variety, try lifting objects where the weight isn’t perfectly distributed (because other than the gym, you’re never going to lift a 100 pound object where the weight is evenly distributed. Unless you work for a barbell distribution company). Try using a sandbag, or a make a slosh tube, or even just find some heavy stones or logs.

Take it slow, find things that are right for you and don’t be afraid to hop outside of your comfort zone.