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Move beautiful 2

Any action can be practiced as an art, as a craft, or as drudgery. (Stephen Nachmanovitch, Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How much did you move today?”

“That’s just one variable.

How well did you move?
How present were you in your movement?
How varied did you move?
How fun/joyful was your movement?”

Movement Snacks

4 guidelines for creating a Movement Snack:

Be an opportunist. Seize the moment.

Make stuff up. Start with some reaches, some pushes, pulls and steps. The right way is the way that feels good.

Bend your knees. Do some squats, take the stairs. Bending your knees helps to integrate the entire system.

Reverse gravity. Stretch, reach and move toward the sky. Extend your back and adopt a posture of exuberance and vitality.

(Frank Forenchich, Beautiful Practice)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I maximize movement throughout the day?”

“In the words of Frank Forenchich,

Weave movement into the fabric of your daily life.

Seize and create as many movement opportunities as possible throughout the day. 

Brain Johnson calls them OTMs, Opportunities To Move.
Frank Forenchich calls them movement snacks.

I love the concept of movement snacks. 
Because of its metaphoric implication – movement is food, it’s an essential nutrient.
Because of its practical application. I turned movement snacks into the practical unit of my movement practice. I like to think of them as macro-reps.”

“So micro-reps are the specific movement patterns you perform, and the macro-reps are the movement sessions.”

“Precisely.”

“What are the advantages of having a unit of practice?”

“Having a unit of practice makes the practice quantifiable. This makes the movement habit easier to install. 

You can set a minimum daily movement target – for instance at least 10 consistent movement snacks. When you do more, that becomes your new personal best. In the long run, the goal is to constantly beat your personal best.

In being non-specific, it unifies your movement practice. The specific movement patterns are not important. What is important is that you move, while constantly keeping in mind the three principles of movement [<link; medium read]:

Quality: Move as well as possible.
Quantity: Move as much as possible.
Variety: Move as varied as possible.

On Burpees and Meaning

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I get to 100 burpees every day like Brian Johnson does?”

“Understand that it’s as much mental as it is physical. You have to make it meaningful.

Deeply internalize that Energy is your most important resource. It’s an enabler for everything you do. Movement is one essential aspect of Energy – and your overall well-being –, next to Sleep, Eating, and Oscillation.

The most important systems of personal-meaning are your Identity and your Values. You have to integrate Movement into both of these systems.

Embrace your identity of Mover / Athlete.
Embrace Movement as one of your primary Values.

In strategic terms, do them in small sets, and spread them out throughout the day. To ensure consistency, have a system for it.”

“What does your system look like?

“I use the following terminology:

Micro-Unit = 1 burpee (the floor)
Unit = 5 burpees
Macro-Unit = 2 x Unit = 10 burpees (the ceiling)

I like multiples of 5 because they’re easier to count. 

The key to consistency I found is connecting the burpee habit with other activities.

More specifically, with my work-time. I do 3 units (3 x 5) during every work-hour: one at the beginning, one in the middle, and one at the end. If for any reason I skip one, I do a macro-unit (10) next time.

The beauty of this system is that, once it becomes a habit, you don’t need to track your overall daily progress. You know that if you’ve worked 6 hours, you’ve done 90 burpees.”

“What if I can barely do 5 burpees? How can I build up to it?”

To build up to it, adjust the unit. 

Start with the micro-unit – 1 burpee. This is the habit-seed [<medium; short read]. 
Stay at 1 burpee until it feels easy, then add another one. This becomes your new unit.

Whenever the unit feels easy, add another rep.

Whenever you feel tired during the day and feel you can no longer sustain the volume, gradually scale down the unit for the day, all the way to the micro-unit if need be. It’s more important to maintain the habit – three units per hour, however small the unit – than to reach 100.

Focus on Quality. (Perfect/Quality-Reps

Think of every burpee session as a micro-meditation. Start every single one by taking a deep breath and connecting with yourself (Centering). 

In terms of feedback, use sound and markings on the floor to assess quality. The less sound you make – this is called Stealth in Parkour –, and the more precise your hand and foot placement, the better the quality of the rep.

You can also add Variety from time to time and experiment with various types of burpees.”

Moving Meditation

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What are the two most important practices?”

“Movement and Meditation.”

“Why?”

“Movement is essential physical training.
Meditation is essential mental training.

Movement is an essential pillar of Health and Energy.
Meditation is an essential pillar of Concentration – maintaining your Attention on one thing and cutting through distractions.

Both are essential prerequisites for clear Thinking and Peak Performance.”

“If you see them as two distinct entities, you can only practice them sequentially. That is inefficient use of time.”

“What do you suggest?”

Integrate them into one practice: Moving Meditation.

This way, whenever you practice one you also practice the other, thus increasing practice density. [<link; short read]

To make the practice memorable, you can think of it as yummy food for your BodyMind, and you can access it through their combined initials.”

“MM… It makes me smile, I like it.

MM also makes me think of Memento Mori and Mental Models.”

“The more things you connect it with, the better. Each of those things is a potential reminder for the practice.”

Move beautiful

Seek perfection in your locomotion and training to achieve an exceptional quality and standard in your movements, regardless of what they are. (Chris Rowat)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What does move beautiful mean to you?”

“Move meaningfully.
Make movement meaningful.
Make movement identity. (Mover)

Move lovingly. (Loving Care, Embodiment)
Connect with yourself through your movement. (Centering)
Move serenely. (Peace)
Move joyfully.
Smile.

Move gratefully. (Loving Gratitude)
Celebrate your beautiful body with every movement. (BodyMind)

Move playfully. (Loving Play, Fun, Movement Puzzles)
Move creatively. (Improv)
Make stuff up.
Explore.

Move more. (Quantity, Movement Snacks)
Move continuously. (Perpetual Motion Machine)
Think while moving.

Move better. (Quality)
Move mindfully. (Loving Presence)
Move gracefully.
Move purposefully.
Every movement a meditation.

Move in all ways. (Variety)
Move holistically.
Move your whole body, not just parts of it.
Move all joints through their full range of motion.

Move opportunistically.
Move anywhere.
Adapt to your environment.

Move comfortably. (Relaxation, Stretching)
Move uncomfortably. (Challenge, Learning)

Move funny.
Move seriously.

Move with others. (Collective Play, Loving Connection)

Move on music.
Move on your inner music.

Among other things.”

Active Recovery

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What do you want to do during breaks?”

“Steven Kotler makes a great distinction between passive and active recovery

Passive recovery means recovering energy by not doing anything.
Active recovery means doing specific activities that better help you recover energy.

Both help you recover energy; the latter is more efficient at it.

In Steven’s system, active recovery has two components, what he calls a ‘mental shift‘, and a ‘physiological shift‘.

Mental shift means state management. In practical terms that may mean one or more micro-moments of positivity [<link; short read], such as smiling and connecting with your highest aspirations.

Physiological shift means breathing and movement. In practical terms that may mean a 5-minute moving meditation, and/or a walk.

To answer your question, during breaks I want to 
Center (mental shift), 
Reflect on the previous time-block (Learning Cycle), and
Move (physiological shift).”

“What if you centered and reflected while moving?

Life-Stacking.”

“I like the idea.”

The Antifragility Game

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I practice Antifragility?”

See it as a game.

In essence, it’s a game of Perception. You’re playing with Attention and Meaning.

For instance, let’s say a specific situation triggers frustration. Like when a web-page takes too long to load. 

What’s the antifragile response?

You might ask yourself:

How can I beautify this moment?

You might choose to focus on – direct your Attention to – Gratitude. You can bring to mind all the silent gifts you tend to take for granted: your computer, with all its peripherals, the Internet, the chair you’re sitting on, the table you’re sitting at, etc.

You might choose to focus on Time. That small time-window is a beautiful opportunity for a micro-meditation. You can take a few mindful breaths, smile, connect with yourself, and relax.

By accessing some internal resources – Gratitude, Meditation – you’ve taken the situation and turned it on its head.”

“What if in the same situation I’m in an unresourceful state? That makes it harder to access my internal resources.

To quote Tim Ferris:

In a lowered emotional state, we only see problems, not solutions.

“In that case, changing your state becomes the absolute priority.

The best way to change your state quickly is by doing something intensely physical. Like a sprint, or a few burpees… or climbing a tree.

The Movement Game is an essential aspect of the Antifragility Game.

“What if I’m somewhere in public?”

“Even better. You get to practice indifference to other people’s opinions as well – or what I like to call, social deconditioning.”

On practicing Quality

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How many re(petition)s did you do?”

“Ten.”

“How many quality reps?”

“Maybe two or three.”

“Those are the only ones that count.

Make it a habit to only count quality reps.

“How can I maximize the number of quality reps?”

“Make it a game. Remind yourself of it by setting the intention before every practice.

Be your own coach. Slow down. Create space for reflection.

Make every rep a learning cycle [<link; short read].”

The Parkour Walk

Be your unapologetically weird self. (Chris Sacca)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I go for a walk every single day. It’s not your typical walk. It’s a game.”

“What’s the game about?”

“It’s one of those endlessly evolving games. 

Structurally, it’s a collection of rules and themes. The rules serve as creative limitations [<link; short read]; the themes serve as guidelines. 

The game is modular. Adding and removing rules and themes is itself a part of the game.

The main theme of the game is Parkour.”

“So you’re training Parkour every day?”

“Yes. And I plan to never stop.

The game is a playful exploration of my neighborhood – or whatever location I’m in. 

The main rule of the game is to always take a different route.

We have a tendency to take the same route and do the same things every time, to get stuck in habitual patterns. The rule ties in with one of the game’s themes, which is pattern-breaking – breaking out of familiar patterns.

In taking a different route I’m also scouting the neighborhood to discover potential training spots and challenges, and I’m creating a mental training map.

Another theme of the game is what I call creative training. Going beyond the obvious, and looking for creative training possibilities within the environment.

One aspect of it is an idea I adore, which I know from Max Henry [<link], one of my favorite Parkour practitioners and coaches. It’s called Something Out of Nothing. Looking at a seemingly uninteresting spot in the environment and coming up with creative ways of playing with it.

Another theme is Quantity. By that, I mean maximizing training density. Getting as much training done as possible within that time span. One aspect of it is maximizing the use of what I call transitional space – the space between training spots or rep(etition)s.”

“Can you give an example?”

“Let’s say I want to get from training spot A to training spot B. The space between the spots is a transitional space. I could walk the distance, or I could QM the distance – traverse it using Quadruperdal Movement, so on all fours. In the second case, I’m increasing training density, I get more training done.

Or let’s say I jump from point A to point B. This is one rep. I could choose to walk back to A and do another rep, or to jump back from B to A. In the second case, I’m increasing training density. In the same time span I’ve performed two reps instead of one.

Another theme is Quality. The how is as important as the what. This means striving to be as present as possible at all times, and only counting quality reps – or beautiful reps, as I like to call them.

Another theme is Variety. I aim to move in as many different ways as possible. In the same session I might jump on the markings of a parking lot, balance on a fence, vault over a garbage can, climb a tree, roll on a patch of grass, do a wall-run followed by a climb-up, etc.

I live on the 8th floor, so every session ends with a little strength & conditioning session up the stairs – I always take the stairs.

And yet another theme is a focus on the fundamentals of Parkour. I don’t train only the fundamentals, but there’s no session in which I don’t train some of them.”

“Don’t you mind looking weird to the people around you?”

“That’s an essential aspect of the practice.”

Three (time-based) rules

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What are the three rules?”

“The 5-second rule, the 2-minute rule, and the 5-minute rule.”

“What is the 5-second rule?”

“It’s a powerful activation ritual for breaking through fear and hesitation. 

Whenever you’re about to do something (perceived as) scary, you have a small window of opportunity of about 5 seconds. If you don’t take action in that time-frame, your mind will stop you by coming up with excuses and horror stories.

To overcome that, take a slow deep breath, count backwards from 5 – 5-4-3-2-1 – and move. ‘Movement’ here is both metaphoric and literal. Moving into action, and physically moving your body to activate your physiology. Counting backwards is also important because it both focuses you and distracts you from your thoughts. 

I use this in Parkour every time when breaking jumps.”

“What do you mean by breaking jumps?”

“‘Breaking the jump’ is a Parkour expression which means breaking through the fear of the jump. This is a fundamental aspect of Parkour. Whenever you contemplate doing a jump (or any other move) that’s at the limit of your comfort zone – in what Josh Waitzkin calls ‘the stretch zone‘ – you get instant feedback in the form of fear. The way you progress in Parkour is by constantly breaking through fear barriers.”

“Like in life.”

“Pretty much.”

“What is the 2-minute rule?”

“The rule says: if an action takes less that 2 minutes to do, do it immediately

You’re familiar with the concept of marginal gains.”

“Tiny gains that add up over time?”

“Yes.

This goes the other way too. We might call the opposite phenomenon marginal losses. If you don’t do the little things immediately, they add up, and at some point overwhelm you.”

“What is the 5-minute rule?”

“It has many uses.

One of them is as a starting ritual: committing to doing something for only 5 minutes.

The most difficult part in doing something is getting started.” 

“Why do you think that is?”

“My theory is that it has to do with how you mentally represent it to yourself. 

I like to illustrate it using the energy and movement physical-models.

To set a process in motion requires a certain activation energy.
Once in motion, the energy required to maintain the process is much lower. This is Newton’s first law of motion – an object in motion tends to stay in motion.

The larger you mentally represent a process to yourself, the more activation energy is required. By committing to doing only 5 minutes, you’re lowering the activation energy required for setting the process in motion.

Another use of it is delaying. Whenever you’re tempted to give in to an undesired impulse, make it a habit to delay it and go for a 5-minute walk.

“What if I wanted to use 3 minutes instead of 5?”

“The numbers are not set in stone. They’re customizable. It is the ideas behind them that matter.

Experiment with them until you find your sweet spot.”