The Magic of Movement

Accurate depiction of my feelings regarding PE.

Just in case you’re new ‘round here, let me start by saying that I am not a coordinated person. I was the kid that was always picked last on sports days, could never catch a ball, and actually almost failed PE (Physical Education – I’m not sure what the translation to other English is. For us, it was those horrible days when you had to put on your very old, very stained sports gear and broken-down shoes, and hope you were ignored rather than picked on for the next 45 minutes). I don’t think anyone knew it was possible to fail PE before that.

These days, I no longer have to deal with sweaty gym rooms and hormone-loaded teenagers, and I get to choose how I move. Which means it definitely doesn’t involve balls I can neither hit nor catch, or team sports that I can never quite fathom the rules of. And movement, I’ve discovered, is a wonderful thing when it’s on your own terms.

Yeah, swimmings great. I feel so much more relaxed. So. Relaxed.

I never decided to be a person who moves. I just sort of fell into it. My first job when I left home was working in a dive shop, and that was active – not just the diving itself, but lugging tanks and gear and in and out of the water constantly. When I left that, I found I wanted – I needed – to move. So even when I was working on boats I found time to swim lengths of the nearest shore once a day (added advantage – sneaking up on turtles, barracuda, and even sharks before all the snorkelers came up and scared them away). Later, I started to run and do other little snippets of exercise, all very unplanned and disorganised, but it was the moving that mattered, not the rest of it.

Life, as it does, went a bit hideous for a while, but I still somehow kept moving. Not all the time, but here and there. It reminded me that I was alive, that if nothing else worked, my body still did. And when I started to drag myself out of the bad times, it was movement that kept me sane. Not moving to lose weight or achieve some bikini body ideal (I think I’m a bit past those days, anyway), but moving because I could. Because moving meant I was alive, and I had survived, and this body would carry me forward. And because, once the desperation had died down a bit, it was fun.

Layla believes all movement should be fun. And involve catnip.

Because it is. Moving’s fun. Whether you’re falling out of side plank in a circuit work out, or tumbling out of warrior three in yoga, or running down some muddy track in the rain, or splashing around in a pool – it should be fun. I think too many of us are put off because it seems like a chore, whether we enjoyed it in school or not. Or we’re so focused on goals that we forget to take pleasure from how we get there.

All of which is to say that if we can move, it seems a shame not to. If you have the time and the ability to make space for some movement in your life, try it. It doesn’t need to be much – if you have room on your floor to lie down, you can do a workout. Finding the time can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be long. It’s so hot at the moment that most of my workouts are around 30 minutes. I’m a puddle of sweat by the end of it.

Okay, weird writer person, you’re thinking. You reckon these things are fun. But why else should I try it?

Proper supervision is essential.

Alright, lovely fellow writers (and everyone else – we’re not the only ones that get stuck on things). Here’s the thing. Moving clears your head. Stuck on a plot point? Walk. You don’t even need to think and walk – just walk, and maybe something will surface while you’re watching someone do a terrible job of parking, or arguing with their dog about which direction to go in. Frustrated with your characters? A few burpees and star jumps will work that right out of you. Stressed out and tense from too much time in your head? Ten minutes of sun salutations may not completely clear it, but you’ll certainly be back in your body again.

Now, I’m not saying it’s a cure-all. I don’t even know if it’ll work for you the way it works for me. But I know that walking is about as close as I get to meditation (yeah, I know I said I do yoga. It doesn’t mean I’m good at it), swimming makes me feel like I’m returning to my natural element, and most of my bad moods don’t survive a heavy HIIT workout.

So what d’you think? Do you move? What’s your favourite way to do it? And does it help you?

 

Okay, that sort of team sport I can get behind.

PSA: Results can include mysterious sore spots (annoyingly, I don’t bruise. I’ve fallen on ice with all my weight on one knee, and had nothing to show for it. It’s very irritating when you’re looking for sympathy), and occasionally embarrassment (sometimes public, sometimes not). Plus little doses of happy.

14 thoughts on “The Magic of Movement

  1. You’re right, fun moving is wonderful. When I’m in shape I love tramping, just walking through nature and giving my mind a chance to wander. Somersaults on the trampoline are hardly work, but they’re a great workout. At times I’ve been crazy about karate, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and circus arts. None of those are work, and they sure get you fit. Sadly, writing doesn’t get you fit.

    1. Tramping is awesome – plus NZ is just an amazing place for it. I do as much as I can whenever I’m back (which isn’t often enough). I’m so jealous about your other activities, though! I’m pretty certain my dodgy coordination would let me down, but I’d love to try circus arts. Probably the others, too, but yeah – me trying to kick things never ends well for anyone involved.

      Are we certain writing doesn’t keep us fit? All that brain workout must count for something…

  2. This is a great reminder that simply moving is the key, not anything fancy or necessarily coordinated. The benefits for clarity of mind almost outweigh the physical benefits.

    1. Thank you so much! I really do think that the mental benefits are at least as important as the physical, if not more so. And it’s lucky for me that coordination is not the most important thing… 😉

  3. “Stuck on a plot point? Walk.” This seriously works for me. 🙂 Okay, sometimes I need several walks to clear a tangled plot, but going for a walk always helps because if nothing else I can start plotting other stories. I also love to swim, but swimming and plotting doesn’t go together because I have to keep count of the distance. My brain doesn’t do multitasking.

    1. Yay for walking! I do get distracted though, if I spot someone or something particularly interesting – then it’s off down another rabbit hole. But sometimes that also works, when I’m not consciously thinking of the story – I’ll come back to it and things will suddenly seem obvious. Strange little writer brains we have!

  4. Great post! I always hated PE at school and it took me ages and a great deal of courage to take up jogging when I was 17 and desperate to lose weight. It comes and goes in my life, depending on what time I have, but it really does make me feel good. Walking my dogs (and other people’s) is a great therapy too. Whatever the weather, it’s just so good to be outside and moving! And I agree, from a writers point of view, walking is always the thing that gets things going again in my head. I get all my best ideas when walking!

    1. PE was AWFUL. It took me so long to realise that exercise really wasn’t just some sort of ritual humiliation. And dogs are fantastic for getting you outside – plus it must be lovely just to spend time with them 🙂

  5. For me it’s always been martial arts. There’s something fun about working with kata. I’m not good at traditional sports and don’t care for teams, so Kenpo has been a good thing for me. Plus, you get weird looks when you practice in public and that’s always fun.

    1. Weird looks are always a plus point for working out in public! I think I’d probably enjoy martial arts, but I’d have to get over the fear of actually going into a class. That always makes me uncomfortable, even when I know what I’m doing.

      I find it so interesting to see what other people do – there are so many possibilities that don’t involve what we tend to envisage when we think of working out.

  6. I totally understand what you mean about walking. Writing involves so much sitting down in front of a computer that I find walking very threaputic. It clears my head and I come back feeling more refreshed and ready for action. I love to ride also, not that I do it very often as I don’t have a horse, my friend has three however! Well I know the horse is doing most of the movement but the exhilaration I feel when galloping over the moors is wonderful.

    1. “Galloping over the moors” – what a wonderfully Gothic image! It makes me almost wish that I wasn’t so desperately nervous of horses…

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