The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Perfect Template

There are many, many different ways to look at the aspects of fitness.  I like Coach Sonnon's "Three Dimensional Performance Pyramid" which goes from Health to fitness to skill to competition.  The more basic step MUST be established before you move on to the next.  But what does this mean, exactly?  Let's say that your goal is...ummm...weight loss. That's an issue for several folks here.  What you would do to use this model, is find an activity that you want to get good at.  Say, Ballroom dancing, martial arts, running...something that has a "competitive" aspect that gets you excited.  By the way--not everyone is a competitive person.  No sin in that.
1)  The first step is to improve the general health of the body.  Skeletal system and joints and organs and so forth.  There are few exercise systems that work these things.  Yoga, Tai Chi, The Five Tibetans (available in the FIVE MINUTE MIRACLE), Chi Gung, and a few other techniques do this.  
2) Fitness covers several basic attributes: strength, endurance, flexibility, balance, power, etc.  A progressive resistance weight training system of some kind is great for this.  Kettlebells and Clubbells can cover this range beautifully.  For most people, three-four times a week will seal the deal.  Once your fitness has reached an acceptable level
3) Skill.  This is where most people make a mistake: they play a sport to get fit.  this is how you injure yourself.  GET FIT, AND THEN PLAY THE SPORT.  Find a good teacher.  There are additional benifits, what I call a "Perfect Template."  Tai Chi, Silat, Yoga, Ballroom Dancing, Modern Dancing, etc.--all of these are skills that require you to compare your body to that of an idealized form.  This may or may not be exemplified by the instructor (a good instructor--or coach--can help you develop better form than he/she has.)  The point is that part of your emphasis should be on an idealized, impossible-to-reach Platonic Ideal of a motion, something that will always exceed  your grasp. This puts you on the road to constant improvement, tiny adjustments that  you  will make for the rest of your life.  Ego can be suspended.  FORM is the conjunction of Breath, Motion, and Alignment.  Remember how I said that under stress, form dis-integrates? That means that as your grasp of form becomes more acute, you can see stress coming from a mile away, and keep it from having a negative effect simply by beginning a re-integration sequence (performing a Tai chi or Silat form or two, a few Yoga Asanas, some pranayama, THE FIVE MINUTE MIRACLE, etc.)  As you get better, you start learning how to hold yourself in flow state--the secret to reaching your highest levels of excellence.  And if you have balanced goals (I.D.E.A.) you will AUTOMATICALLY begin to evolve as a human being.
4) Competition.  This is where you place your form under stress.  You choose an appropriate level of competition, and go for it.  Your coach or friends or teammates or partners report back to you on your external form (video works great) or you teach your unconscious to record the results.  Begin to see where your form comes apart, and re-integrate to make it stronger.  Competition, then, acts as a metaphor for life, and those you compete against are the best and truest teachers you will ever have in your life.
So consider finding some physical activity to provide a PERFECT TEMPLATE for you to compare your form against.  It is another tool for maximum growth in the arenas of the spiritual and emotional...believe it or not!

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