Gravity. The force of attraction by which terrestrial bodies tend to fall toward the center of the earth.
This is the Dictionary's definition (although not Websters).
Its pretty much what keeps your butt in the chair and the planet in alignment with the sun.
Its what moves us and holds us, but has almost been completely neglected in terms of its connection to the body or physical fitness.
If gravity is the governing force behind how we move, then why do we never consider it?
How little we DO consider it (especially in exercise where we need it most) is the problem Im trying to address, I want to focus on our level of disconnect and lack of awareness in every day function.
I have been a physical person my whole life, not necessarily because I enjoyed it but because Im a body type that needs to exercise to not gain weight. Swimming, riding, skiing, diving, gymnastics.
Finally dance. Hurling, twisting, moving my body against or with something in order to incur the system to get stronger. But I never considered the damage I was doing to the system (me!).
Then I became a stunt person.
In stunt work, its all about gravity. Its about the condition/shape of the car and what the road surface is. Its also about your tires. Your "Gravity contact point ". Your greatest ally in controlling your vehicle exactly where you want it to go is your tires. In stunt work, its not about crashing into things, but moving with precision. Controlled Chaos.
Your own movement in life is the same. You dont want to crash into things. You want to move yourself with grace and control. You want to know where your foot is in relationship to the corner of the door so you dont stub your toe. Proprioception ..the knowledge of your body in relationship to itself as well as the space around it.
Here is the second half. Your BRAIN. Again really important in how you move, and again, generally overlooked.
Because of how we learn to walk, without focus but instead with complete reliance on the CNS (central nervous system) we dont know HOW we move, we just DO IT. You can watch some one do something and most of us can replicate simple movements, or we get taught, like riding a bicycle.
Think back when you first learned to ride a bike. It seemed impossible not to wobble but then suddenly you just knew. Some how it clicked and all of a sudden the CNS took over and your body moved automatically with ease and little focus. and every time you get on the bike now, you just know. MUSCLE MEMORY. Stored in your brain and your body remembers.
BUT as you age, the brain (like the rest of the body) starts to work less. It is not as sharp or efficient as before. Muscle memory is not as clear, and sometimes the brain forgets to trigger the automatic movement and you can fall down. Many people have their knees give out because the brain forgets lock it when it put the foot down and thats it, You crash to the floor. BAM. It happens a lot.
Not to me. I have not fallen down in almost 6 years, and my dog has tried. In fact the one time I impressed my mother was when the dog tried to pull me into a creek bed chasing a rabbit, and I just stood there like a tree, my gravity center too engaged, even at a moment when I was not prepared, to be pulled over or down.
I have trained myself to be aware of my body in life through Pilates. I DO know how I move and what muscles I need to stand tall. Joe Pilates' main focus in his books is about LIFE MOVEMENTS....not simply about exercise. Its gotten a little blurry for some who see Pilates as just another form of exercise.
Its a way of living.
I want you to to think of how you move. Lets start with the basics. Just try to feel how you move around and if you can remember, notice how others around you move. Can you see tightness or the need to swing anything?
If we would only train ourselves to walk properly and move from the center all the time, with our core working, we would be a much happier people with less need for doctors and an ability to walk tall and lightly where ever life takes us.
Walk from your ribcage, not from your shoulders or hips.
Try not to swing your arms. Walk over the first and second toe, then the middle of your foot, not the sides.
Avoid momentum and heave in daily activities (if you can) and control your body. Pay attention to the little things and try to feel your life.
Theses are all first steps in developing a Pilates Mind. Your mind will bring your body back to life!