A friend asked Chris how they should begin their weight loss journey or get back into shape. When he tells them the two things that they can do, they look at him like he’s crazy and ended up signing up for the boot camp down the street.
For the short term, they will feel like they are getting a good workout in and sweat out some water pounds but Chris’ strategy, tedious and unsexy, always leads to longterm and lasting results. Results in this case are being injury-free and feeling strong.
I am a living testimonial.
What are these two things?
Walking and crawling.
I remember the first time he told me to crawl after I had Q. The baby was six weeks old and I wanted to lose the weight of 11 years of pregnancy and baby-having.
I was ready for kettlebells and he nonchalantly told me to crawl for 10 minutes daily and then he would see when I was ready for the next stage. It drove me nuts.
Then I realized that I have the same philosophy with teaching. If a child has not been an environment where curiosity and mistakes were rewarded, and learning motivated intrinsically is nonexistent, we don’t just jump into a boot camp of reading, writing, and math like most parents would like to see.
We need to crawl before we walk. Then walk before we run.
Crawling is a contra-lateral movement that stimulates the nervous system which is a gentle way to prepare you for more strenuous movement. Strenuous movement is nervous-system demand which means that movements with high intensity are higher skilled and requires a lot of muscles. If your nervous system isn’t prepared for that, it becomes stressful to your body.
Crawling in my case with a lot of my students means months of creative play, arts and crafts, and conversation about how we feel in certain situations and how we relate to each other. There is hardly homework and parents wonder what exactly we are doing all day.
At the very least, I am giving their central nervous system a break from stress that has been associated with school and learning through external rewards or coercion. I am also priming their system to change the way it reacts to challenges. I want them to ask for them and get excited when they have to solve a problem and not panic or shut down.
If there was an imaginary dictionary where you could look up the definition of Chris and I and our philosophy, you would see words like delayed gratification, infinite game, and practice. It would probably be a boring passage on consistency and marginal yet revolutionary movements like crawling or being present with a child, listening to their stories so that they felt they mattered. There would be a reference to coffee and morning routines of course.
When I started to get impatient after months of crawling and walking, Chris sat me down and said, your body has gone through over a decade of stress and change – having five babies in 11 years is no small feat for a 5’ 3” frame. He said that when my basic movements like crawling and walking looked less laboured and difficult, we could build in more intensity.
When it looked like I moved effortlessly and lightly with ease, we could progress.
Q is now 11. I can do a double kettlebell press and squat with 12kg kettlebells. I swing regularly with the 20kg kettlebell. I am injury-free and move better than ever before. A six-week bootcamp didn’t get me here.
Over a decade of slow and patient trust in practice and the process and relating to myself again got me here.
This is what I look for too. I look for the ease in which the child is with themselves. The ease and effortlessness of sharing their opinion, their creative expression, and asking questions using the wildest of imaginations. This indicates to me that they also have a sense of safety and a relaxed way of being in the world again – the natural state of a child where they are primed for deep learning.
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