Feldenkrais said that one of the primary goals of his method was to make the impossible possible, the hard easy, and the easy elegant. I’m a big fan of this quote because it reminds me that physical training involves a lot more than just working on maximum efforts. It’s also about making submax efforts easier, more efficient, smoother, less likely to cause fatigue, discomfort or pain.
The goal is to make these “easy” movements “elegant” – smooth, efficient, even pleasurable to perform.
In the gym, it might look like reducing the force and speed of a particular exercise or movement in a way that will help you improve movement efficiency. Less weight or less speed will allow you to pay closer attention to using proper form, and ensure that the movement is completely free of any awkwardness, discomfort, inefficiency or unnecessary effort, and that the movement feels good, even elegant or graceful. Another approach would be to take a very easy movement like a shoulder circle and work very slowly and mindfully to explore the very precise subtleties of how the movement is actually done. This will improve coordination and movement efficiency.
Many people ignore this route to improvement altogether and focus instead on the top down approach – trying to improve “easy” everyday life movements with massive efforts in the gym. This is like building a roof before the foundation. The skills developed at low intensities supports the great effort at higher intensities, not the other way around.
Although effort and intensity are clearly necessary elements of achieving physical goals, excessive focus on these aspects of training will lead to injury and fail to provide adequate time and energy for learning the skills that support the higher levels of effort. Put another way, life and sport is more about skill than will.
In most sports, as I’ve discussed before, most of what professional athletes do is actually very easy for them. Maybe 80% of their moves are activities they could repeat with a minimum of effort, mindlessly, automatically, with very little strain and negligible chance of injury.
If you can’t do the bread and butter moves of your sport or activity with ease and elegance, you will have a very hard time competing for more than a few years.
You will say that you are just getting old, but part of the problem is that you are failing to make your hard moves easy and your easy moves elegant.
So, the take home point is this – include substantial time in your training for making the easy elegant and the hard easy – that’s where most of life and sport is anyway.
(Thanks to Mike T. Nelson)
This is so ignored in the rowing world……
If you cannot row alone well, How can you row well on a TEAM BOAT?
If you cannot row well on flat water, How can you row well on BAD WATER?
If you cannot row well at low rates, How can you row well at HIGH RATES?