Tag Archives: fitness

Healthy Animals – Bond, His Girls, and Postural Improvement

18 Feb

How do we know a healthy animal when we see one? It depends on the animal, of course, but fluid physical movement is a good indicator. Think about wildlife documentaries where the cheetah is racing across the Serengeti to catch an impala. That film footage looks awesome in slow motion, the great cat’s body rippling with strength.

As animals ourselves, we humans are instinctively good at recognizing the health level of other animals. It is a survival mechanism. In our hunter-gatherer days we had to be able to see which animals from the herd of deer we were stalking were going to be easiest to put on the menu.

Also important was recognizing which members of our tribe were likely to produce healthy offspring with us. One of the clearest signs of good health for our hunter/gatherer forebears was the pelvis in motion. Fluid pelvic movement indicates good blood flow to the region, efficient digestion, strong muscles, fertility and ease of childbirth. As modern, civilized humans we often sum up these qualities with a single word when referring to other people – ‘sexy.’

A very important piece of the James Bond mythos is 007’s interactions with sexy women-folk. In Fleming’s novels the women who catch 007’s eye are usually described as curvaceous, athletic and in their early to mid-twenties among many other commonalities.  Basicly the Bond girls are young and healthy female human animals.

The old saw “you’re only as old as you feel” is a sound one. Fleming’s Bond is in his mid-to-late-thirties. It’s inferred many times in the novels that 007 is tall, slim, and fit. When he is sent to Shrublands for physical rehabilitation one of the treatments he receives is traction in order to lengthen his spine and improve his posture (never mind that the traction session nearly killed him – that was a fluke).

It can be argued that the key to feeling young is in developing and maintaining good posture. And for our experiment the key to developing and maintaining good posture through elongating our own spines is the Gokhale Method as presented in her book 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back.

In 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back Esther Gokhale (“GO-klay”) details her method of posture improvement and pain erasure through adjustments of the typical body positions we find ourselves in every day: sitting, standing, lying down, walking and bending over. She has been developing her method for over 15 years and each of her 8 steps are very easy to adopt.

First on the agenda is the position she calls “stretchsitting.” You can watch her 2 minute video about it here.  In this particular position you are lengthening your low back by using the backrest effectively and opening your chest up by ratcheting your shoulders back. I started practicing this position myself two weeks ago (4 Feb. 2012). It’s actually fairly rare that I find myself sitting in a chair (“stacksitting” is Lesson 3 in the book) so it still seems a little weird when I practice sitting this way. For someone with a job that requires a lot of sitting, I imagine stretchsitting would become normal within a week.

I’ve asked a few of my friends to adopt the Gokhale Method and allow me to track their progress as posture improvement case studies. All case studies will start with stretchsitting. If you’re experimenting along at home, please feel free to post comments about your own experiences with the Gokhale Method. The result I’m hoping for is that the system will be something that my massage clients can easily incorporate into their lives, something that allows them to easily minimize – or completely eradicate – their back pain issues.

I also like the idea that everyone around me will be tall and sexy.

Health and Fitness 007 Style

2 Dec

My buddy Damen is one of those people whose enthusiasm is infectious. One afternoon as we enjoyed a “few” pints of Czech beer we started kicking around ideas for new self-improvement challenges. As we were both in the process of rereading all the original James Bond books we decided to collate information about how the literary James Bond lives his daily life and incorporate some of that into our own lives. We already knew of some great online resources for information about the gadgetry, cars, clothes and such (here, here, and also here), so we reckoned we’d be adding to the wealth of data by collecting bits and pieces about eating and exercise from those Ian Fleming stories. Damen is tackling the eating info and I’ve tasked myself with the exercise.

So what does the literary James Bond do for exercise?

Here’s my primary inspiration, as I’m not going to take up golf:

“There was only one way to deal with boredom—kick oneself out of it. Bond went down on his hands and did twenty slow press-ups, lingering over each one so that his muscles had no rest. When his arms could stand the pain no longer, he rolled over on his back and, with his hands at his sides, did the straight leg-lift until his stomach muscles screamed. He got to his feet and, after touching his toes twenty times, went over to arm and chest exercises combined with deep breathing until he was dizzy.”

-Ian Fleming, From Russia, With Love

The above is not a whole hell of a lot to go on but it’s plenty to use as a foundation for a fitness program. James Bond had no need for gyms full of spandex and machinery that harkens back to the glory days of the Spanish Inquisition. James Bond wasn’t necking gallons of creatine and whey protein and fistfuls of supplement pills. James Bond wasn’t looking to hulk up into a ‘roid-balled Mr. Olympia. There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of those things if they appeal to you but 007 didn’t need them so…

In the posts to come I’ll be tracking my progress, regressions, aggressions, digressions, and impressions of the The 007 Fitness Experiment. I’ll be taking that short excerpt from From Russia With Love and figuring out how to turn it into a solid fitness regimen.

How will I cope with the lifestyle changes? Will I literally get too big for my britches? Will smoking 60 cigarettes a day turn out to be a crucial element in the 007 fitness equation?

All these questions and many, many more will be answered one way or another. I hope you’ll join me for the fun.