London morning sky "Shaped by Design".
I love to take a quick pic of the skyline on my trips to London. I am always drawn to look up in search of some aspect of nature when I am in the cluttered city streets. I also like to take photos where there is a natural frame to what I want to capture. This morning I was stopped in my tracks by the deep blue sky and the architecture framing it but more than just that, I was struck by the sign above the entrance to the station explaining how Broadgate is "Shaped by Design!"
The skyline I was looking at was literally changed, shaped and framed by the design of the many buildings as they tower into it. London is famed for its skylines and buildings are purposely designed in a way that will enhance or compliment existing buildings and the overall skyline, just look at the Thames. We recently took the boat tour along the Thames and learned many facts about the buildings there. We learned that some buildings were built tall and narrow to reduce the number of windows and therefore the window tax they would pay, some had bricked up the windows to avoid the window tax all together. These builidings were then Shaped by a function and need.
This got me thinking about how we have evolved from design coming from basic functions like the need for food, clothing and shelter to cars, Fitbit's and iPhones?? How many things have we designed and built into our environment and our life that fulfill a need that only exists because of the design of something else? What are we missing because of all these designs? How are we changing our personal skyline?
What do you want the skyline of your body, your life to look like, feel like, live like?? My point is we get to choose how we design our movement and our lives and if we do this from the starting point of function we will gain the most incredible functioning body/design.
I am a huge fan of Katy Bowman a Biomechanist, author and movement innovator. She talks about "mechanotransduction", when the body is shaped by the environment and the loads and forces that it places on the body. For example, we have chairs so we sit on them, we have TV's so we watch them, we have cars so we drive them. Without these we would sit on the floor and our hips would be more supple and our hamstrings wouldn't be so tight, we would read more books and walk to work. Plus we know from recent studies that getting up from the floor unaided is a predictor of good long term health. In addition to this Katy also talks about our movement being "outsourced". Simple examples are that we pop down to the supermarket for fruit and veg instead of growing it ourselves and have dishwashers instead of standing and doing the movement of washing our dishes. Right down to little things like we don't even need to turn the key in the car anymore.
It doesn't then surprise me when so often people tell me their Pilates goals are to tone their triceps and their mid back and improve their posture. I know right away that the aesthetic design they want needs to come out of them learning the function of the arms and shoulders. They have simply stopped doing the movement that employs those muscles because the environment doesn't require them to.
We all have small windows in our life where we can shape our own design! We could make a movement swap or change the environment to invite more movement in. Lots of us are aware of the idea of making healthy dietary swaps like have an apple or a banana instead of that packet of crisps or chocolate bar but could we make movement choices the same way?
A lovely friend and long time Pilates devotee told me recently how she spent the longest part of her journey to work on the shortest distance. This part of her journey takes twenty minutes nose to tail in stressful city traffic. She worked out that she could walk that distance in the same length of time she was spending tensed up, stressed out sat in the car. She now parks her car and walks.
Here are a few swaps or changes to your environment that you could make:
Put the toilet roll on the back of the cistern so you have to spine twist for it each time!
Put the dishes you need regularly in the most awkward spot so you have to squat etc
Have a carpet picnic tea
Hand Wash your dishes
Climb the stairs on your feet and hands just like you did when your were a child
Use a short handle dustpan and brush instead of a long handle or hoover so you have to get down into a crouch.
This is an insight into my thoughts, what I read about, how I see the world and how I work on living my life and raising my family. Not to mention this is how we teach Pilates at the studio. We are looking for good function first and those toned triceps will follow!!!
Shape By Function First!!
Chapel Allerton Pilates