Alignment Matters: Movement Motivation – Podcast Episode #107

With three essays from her book Alignment Matters, Katy Bowman delivers some movement motivation that’s as close as the floor, as thrilling to reach for as a mountain top, and as incrementally awesome as a walk with a bunch of kids. Plus! Katy’s kids deliver a little motivation of their own, with some hiking tips for kids their age.


00:02:42 –  Alignment Matters Essay #1 – The Best Piece of Exercise Equipment You’re Not Using – Jump to section

00:07:06 –   Alignment Matters Essay #2 – Half Dome Triumph – Jump to section

00:15:16 –   Alignment Matters Essay #3 – Kids Not Walking – Jump to section

00:21:05 –  Vitamin DW, Movement Matters, and Stack Your Life – Jump to section

00:23:36 –  For Children By Children – Jump to section

00:28:02 –  Movement Wisdom from Katy’s Children- Jump to section



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KATY: Happy summer, peeps! This is the Move Your DNA podcast, with Katy Bowman. I am Katy Bowman, biomechanist and author of Move Your DNA and a bunch of other books about movement. And speaking of my other books about movement, this summer, and this summer only, I’m going to be reading essays from Alignment Matters to you. Not the audiobook you’ve been asking for, but over this summer’s episodes of Move Your DNA,  I’m going to read you some of my favorite essays from Alignment Matters, talk about some of the connections between them and chime in on my own writings to say things differently or offer some behind the scenes info if I feel like it. I am for everyone doing more of their own work. But this summer, let me do the heavy lifting of this most massive of my books, and free up your arms or eyes from holding my book, leaving you free to climb a tree, or carry a baby to the beach, or however, else you move and groove. All bodies are welcome. Are you ready to get moving?




KATY:  Ok, I think you know by now that what I want, what I really, really want,  is for more people to get moving. And while there are plenty of essays in Alignment Matters that encourage you to move, in this episode I’m gonna focus on I think just a few simple, helpful ways that you can do that. So the first essay is gonna be: “The Best Piece of Exercise Equipment You’re Not Using”.  The second is  “1/2 Dome Triumph”, and the third is “Kids Not Walking.” If I had to pick a theme it was: Motivation. I think motivation and then, of course, we are at the end of July (I am at the end of July now) and I’ve just been moving around so much outside that I was just thinking of ways to kind of inspire to think about how they can do that more easily. So I picked these three essays.  

My first essay is: The Best Piece of Exercise Equipment You’re Not Using. And I picked this one because I think it pertains to almost everyone.

Ah, I see I got your attention.  And you are wondering what I could be talking about. The treadmill in your guest bedroom. The one with the clothes on it?  The rollerblades in your closet? The semi-inflated ball in your backyard or the weights you have lying around just in case you’re inspired to do a bicep curl? Nope, none of those.  Give up? This one size fits all miraculous tool of amazing design is the floor. That’s right ladies and gentlemen. The floor can do wonders for your hips, shoulders, and back tension. It can help you build bone and decrease your blood pressure. But guess what?  You have to get down on it. I know it’s an extreme thought. In fact, the hardest three feet you will ever travel is between your hips and the ground.

1) I can get down but I can’t get back up. True strength is the ability to manage your body mass in all situations. And if you can’t get off the floor then you’re lacking the strength and the flexibility required to keep your body healthy. I suggest everyone get down on the floor and up again, every day. Just to make sure you don’t lose the ability to. And exercise teachers, have your clients practice the functional task of climbing down to a supine (face up on your back) position, and then back up again.

2) My floor is too dirty.  Uh… vacuum it? And this reason seems to be more like a health prohibiting excuse and not a valid reason. When it comes time for your annual doctor visit, how are you gonna feel knowing you could have taken better care of your spine but didn’t want to spend 10 minutes cleaning up?

3) There is not enough space.  The smallest space I have ever seen was the quarters of a family of five living on a small sailboat.  They were still able to roll a yoga mat out to create a usable exercise floor, just the perfect size for an adult. If you have a smaller space than that, I want proof, you may have to move things out of the way when it’s time to get down. But guess what?  That’s exercise too.

The biggest thing keeping you from coming down if often your own inertia and seriously even athletes don’t like to get down on the ground. It slows them down – as you can imagine. Your body is always trying to conserve energy. It’s not that you’re lazy. You’re just programmed with an internal voice. Panicky internal voice:  Stop doing that. You’re using too much energy. There might not be enough food to last us through the winter. Someone really needs to figure out how to explain the recent abundance of kcals to our metabolism. You don’t have to feel badly. You just have to have a little mind over matter. That saying is a lot more literal than figurative in this example.  So back to solving the problem of inertia. Step one is to get down on the floor regularly. And even if you didn’t do anything else while you were down there, getting up means you’ve just performed a whole body exercise. Lifting X pounds (just fill in your body weight in the blank). Next time you see someone showing off their chest press with 50-pound weights, you can show them up by doing your impressive full body press. If you want to sweat, start from a standing position and then climb down to the floor ending up face down. Climb back up to a standing position and climb back down ending with you face up. Just repeat the cycle 5 to 10 times. It’s more fatiguing than you think. And like I said, those three feet are hard. Many would prefer a challenging workout that doesn’t involve the floor.  And P.S., I just made myself do it so, join the club. And I’ll add one more thing. This is the primary reason that we don’t have furniture in our house. It is not only the sitting, it is the fact that not having furniture, you’re still gonna take rests, it just means that you do all these full body, full range presses hundreds of times a day.

Ok, second essay. This one I picked because it’s a little bit inspiring and I think, too, I like to have a range of voices in my work in general. And then on this show.  So I thought that this kind of spoke to someone who felt like maybe they had aged out of a movement rich lifestyle. So again, I invite everyone to check out Dynamic Aging and listen to some podcasts that we’ve done where we’ve interviewed goldeners and people who have successfully transitioned to more movement really at all ages.  

So this is called Dear Katy: Half Dome Triumph

I get a lot of Katy says email with different questions and emails, etc., but my favorite Dear Katy’s are those that let me know how alignment is changing your life. And I got a great one today that I wanted to share and I sent a few interview questions to her to help flesh out her story but she was so good she actually wrote it out which saves me time. So thank you, Gail. So those of you who feel like your age or your ailments are limiting you from, well, living, and for those of you who truly believe that you have “bad knees and backs”, this one is for you. This is reading Gail’s letter:

I have been a big fan of visiting Yosemite for most of my life, but 20 years ago I decided I wanted to climb half-dome. I was 40ish and in relatively good shape. So I started training and two months before the climb I injured my knee doing a stair stepper at the gym. And after 3 years of every type of therapy (and by the way I’m a chiropractor), I relented and had surgery which had minimal results. So my exercise life was limited to short walks and short recumbent bike rides. After several years I was able to increase my exercise and started doing longer bike rides. And about 3 years ago I developed acute Achilles tendonitis that was so severe I was unable to even walk around my house without pain. Forget any exercise. Back to trying every type of therapy, there is including Apitherapy, bee sting, yuk, no good. Finally, a friend told me I should go to the Restorative Exercise Institute and have an evaluation.  (And Restorative Exercise was the original name of Nutritious Movement – the much larger brand now). Discouraged from all the failed therapy, I put it off for three months but desperation won out and I had an evaluation with Katy. And guess what? I didn’t believe her when she told me all the things wrong with my posture. In fact, I tried to argue with her. She gave me the look and I said, “right, I’ll shut up now.” {And I don’t know what look I give but evidently, I might have a look}. I was internally rotated with tight psoas, hamstrings, and soleus. But after 1 month of classes I was 90% better and in 3 months I was 98% better and could walk, hike, bike, and anything else I wanted. Wow. When I turned 60 I mentioned to Katy that I had always wanted to climb Half-dome and she said: “so do it.” After 5 months of training and with the help of all the instructors at Rexi, which was the acronym for the Restorative Exercise Institute. Thank you to all of our teachers out there. After 5 months of training and the help of all the instructors at Rexi, I hiked 17 plus miles up four thousand eight hundred feet and pulled myself up 500 feet of cables. Thanks, Katy. You made it possible and for all of you out there with a dream? Just go to RExI and never give up. You can do it.

So anyway I’d like to say this is the best thank you note ever.  When she got up there she had pre-made signs that said “Thanks Katy” and thank you to all of our teachers. You can find all of our teachers online on our website. And she had taken pictures with these thank you cards and it was just really awesome.  You can see the pictures in the book. What an inspiration you are, Gail. And just to let everyone in on a little secret. Your alignment matters. Not in a little way like your posture could look better but in a huge way that affects your cardiovascular system and your metabolism and your nerves and your mental health and, of course, your joints. Are you ready to be pain-free? And I encourage all of you to pick something you’d like to do with your body and do it, with correct preparation, alignment, exercise prescription, and tons of laughter. It’s so much better with laughter.

VOICEOVER: If you’re into podcasts it’s likely you love this audio format.  If you like listening to Katy read from her book Alignment Matters, well, you should know she has three audiobooks, and she’s willing to read them to you anytime you want. All you need is an Audible account, a device with speakers, and a willing ear.

Here’s a little from Katy’s award-winning book of essays on Nature, Science, and Movement: Movement Matters:

[Katy reads an excerpt from Movement Matters]

And it’s not just Katy’s trademark humor, her compassion, and straightforward approach to movement science that you’ll get with each audiobook. You’ll also get…

[Katy’s bloopers from Movement Matters]

That’s right. Each of Katy’s audiobooks includes several glorious minutes of her bloopers. And you can find the Movement Matters audiobook on Audible. Audible is offering a free audiobook download with a free 30-day trial to give you the opportunity to check out their service. And you can download any audiobook of your choosing by going to That’s


KATY: Ok, third and final essay is Caution: Kids not Walking. And I love that it’s dated as August 2, 2010, which means it’s almost 8 years to the date.

I just got back from vacation visiting the Pacific Northwest where my sister and her 25 kids live. Did I say 25?  I meant 4 and P.S. now it’s 5. But is there really any difference? Not to me and probably not to her either. Speaking of fun times with kids, have you ever tried to take a fast walk with a 2, 5, and 7 year old?  It turns out you can’t travel at the pace you originally envisioned. It turns out that walking with little kids is less like walking and more like herding cats. Have you ever tried to get 3-4 cats to do the same thing at once?  Turns out that walking with kids is more difficult than one without kids. You can imagine. I didn’t have any kids when I wrote this essay. There are many reasons why walking with little ones is challenging but the most basic is they aren’t at the same level of physical performance as you. They get tired. They get pokey with their little hands and feet.  Then in a team effort, they all manage to start crying at the same time. They also seem to manage to do it when you’re at the farthest point from the house. It’s awesome. Turns out exercise isn’t always a stress reducer. Well, maybe us exercising was relaxing for their mom, who got to stay home and take a nap. So where does the walking child’s fatigue “I’m tired” come from? After all, we are beings that, at all ages, have always walked for hundreds, thousands of years. Multiple hours a day and with our very survival based on walking endurance. Simply explained, a child’s fatigue is a result of poor training. Based on my own personal log book of thousands of miles walked, I can say that I have rarely seen a child on a walk beyond returning to the car from a restaurant. I’ve seen kids held and packed for sure. And I’ve seen them on skateboards and bikes. And I’ve also seen kids way too old to be in a stroller being pushed along while the mom is watching her heart rate monitor. So I’ll just pause there to say, that sounds a bit judgmental and it’s not with judgment that I say it. It is more with, I would say, a cultural observation that a lot of stuff is set up right now where we know that we need to get our exercise and there’s not a lot of sharing of responsibility for children. And so we are left with what we are able to figure out how to tend to our needs. And so this is just one of those things. So sorry if anyone’s ever felt judged by that statement.  This is another aside: I ran into someone at a zoo who came up and introduced herself and then said she felt ashamed that she had a stroller with her at the zoo. And I said, “You’re at the zoo with a bunch of kids. You brought your kids to the zoo.” I don’t want anyone to feel shame for anything I have written. That’s the opposite. It’s more like, to go, “Oh I didn’t even know that there was something else that might be possible in certain situations.” So that’s with apologies. Back to the essay.

Law of specificity indicates if kids don’t walk then when they do walk it’s too hard.  Seems like a pretty simple answer but really this is the basic principle of exercise science. Of course, kids are playing on jungle gyms and participating in sports which is fine. But they aren’t walking. And don’t get me wrong, I see teenagers glumly walking around wishing their parents weren’t so lame, but I’m really talking about kids aged 2-12 with really rapidly developing bodies.  In the olden days, not like 200 years ago, but let’s say 20,000 years ago, walking was inherent to our biological culture. From a biomechanical perspective, it is clear that we need to return to walking this kind of distance for the survival of our biology. We can start with a fraction of the distance. And I can’t say this enough. Doing other exercise does not replace walking. As your physiology depends on the very particular mechanical signals found in regular, well-aligned, locomotion.  So how do you get your kids walking? Step one: Start walking yourself. And I have “uh-oh” in the parenthesis. Because I think when we think about how we’re gonna get other people to do stuff it’s not always thought of as “well what am I modeling?” That someone else needing to do something like logically is going to relate back to you doing it two. Step two: Start walking with your kids. This is gonna go a lot slower than your walk, trust me. But it’s important to walk as a family at their pace. Discuss that you will be walking because it’s the most important form of exercise.  Let them plan the route you take. Pick a short distance and make that a habit. i.e. let’s walk to the store or the creek. So they don’t feel like the walk will go on indefinitely. Kids love things that seem to go on forever without end. Three: Understand that your kids need to develop the motor programming, strength, and endurance to walk with you. Develop your walking distances accordingly and increase them no more than 10% each week. Four: You probably need to carve out more time for health. If you only have 45 minutes allotted for walking, realize that this is an inadequate time for everyone, you and your kids, to get what you need biologically. So consider placing a planned activity with vitamin DW: Daily walk. The walk is more important than just about anything. Trust me.

So I’ll interrupt myself here again and say that I think I’ve expanded on this idea of carving more time out for health or exercise and have replaced it with the idea of stalking your life.


Which, I mean, you can read about in Movement Matters which is a book that came along, I don’t know, seven or eight years after this particular essay because I didn’t have kids when I had the perspective of just go get more of the thing. After you have them you realize how much space they occupy in your life. And so it is interesting how your perspective shifts as you diversify your experiences. And I’ve also gotten to work with a lot of other cultures, now, that don’t have the same luxury and privileges that we have, where, oh ok, how does movement fit into our life in a non-exercise format where multiple needs are met. So that’s stack your life. Go read the stack your life essay from Movement Matters to still be able to get more walking but to see how it facilitates other things than just your personal health.  Back to the essay:

One more thing about kids and walking;  They don’t like walking because it’s boring. But guess what?  Parents often think it’s boring too which is why music and classes and gyms and special outfits exist.  I once heard if you’re bored, you’re boring. Which kind of hurts but it’s kinda true. There’s nothing boring about your body in dynamic motion with its 200 bones and 230 joints and 600 muscles all alive with neurological connection to your brain with each step. Nothing boring about the planet you’re walking on and the bugs and the animals and the people you share it with. Develop a daily appreciation for your freedom and ability to walk and then pass it on. Many people come to me as adults in despair wishing that they had one iota of health presented to them as children. In overzealous response, many of us are replacing our lack of natural movement with fitness which can take care of one issue but creates others. Walking with your kids is free. No classes, special camps, or equipment required. No more excuses. Kids need more than playing all day. They need to be able to walk quite a distance. Start your family training today. Their bones and brains will thank you.

Now this is kind of funny. I mean I think it’s funny. I found a box of tapes. My dad’s things that we still had. My dad passed away last year.  And he recorded himself.

And it’s kind of interesting as I’m recording myself on this podcast. He has always recorded the goings on of the family and I found tapes that he had been making from the 50s all the way to the 90s where he would just put a tape recorder out at dinner or at our family birthday parties. So I have all these archives. I have Katy on tape for a large part of my – not a large volume of my childhood but lots of glimpses of how I was speaking and communicating and acting. And it’s hilarious. I played one of these the other day with my kids listening. And I noticed that my children were mimicking my style as a child. And it had to do with reading. I read a lot of books aloud on tape. Interestingly enough.  But I had a very, as you can imagine, dramatic, performance, entertaining reading style. Even when I was sitting in my room by myself reading a book to a tape recorder, there was a lot of performance. And so my children are reading and reading aloud as children do. And before it was going through the book to read. And it only took one time of listening to 15 minutes of me reading, where they got all performance-y. And I, Katy Bowman, now, at 42 reading bedtime stories read like that. I mean if you have one of my audiobooks you know this. They had never mimicked the Katy Bowman of 42. But they started mimicking the Katy Bowman age 8. And it kind of opened the idea to this phenomenon I’ve observed many times before which is: kids learn better from other children, I think, than they learn from adults. I think that there’s almost a stepwise observance that a 5-year-old looking to a 40-year-old at how to be is not as natural, because there’s so many steps in between that doesn’t apply to them, it’s not as natural, maybe, as a 5-year-old looking at a 6-year-old or an 8-year-old at how to be. There’s more ability to grasp the skills that sit between 5 and 7 than 5 and 42. So there’s so much perception, I think, going on of all that there is in terms of behavior. So I’m very much a fan of multi-age classrooms, playgroups, hikes. You know one of our tricks is to definitely bring someone just a couple of years older – your kids are learning how to swim that they get to spend time with children whose swimming skills are just a tad bit in front of theirs where they’re – they have this “oh this is possible, this is a thing. This is not my parents just telling me – or another grown-up – telling me in this class of exactly the same skill set that the next skill set is going to be feasible for me”. So I don’t know if it’s scalable modeling or something. There’s probably a bunch of research on this – this is just my personal observation. This is a long way of saying, I am going to start working on a couple of episodes for children by children because I’m interested to know that for all of you who are contacting me going “I want my family, my children, to be more interested or more resilient when it comes to movement and nature.” It might be that they just need models more close to their experience.

So I’m gonna play with that. And just as a little sneak peek, I was interviewing my kids on a very long hike the other day, so I just, as I’m speaking I really am my father’s daughter. And we’re asking them about tips that they had, things that they appreciated or needed while we were out in nature or out in urban walks for long periods of times. And I assembled just a little bit for you so you can kind of get a sense of what might be coming next.


KATY: What makes going out in nature easier or more fun or better for you?


CHILD:  Well, there’s more space.


KATY: You like more space than less space?


CHILD: Mm-hmm.


KATY: What’s an example of less space.


CHILD: I don’t know. Like an old little house or something.


KATY: Ok, so do you have one?




KATY: So what do like to you have with you to make going outside easier, more fun, better?


CHILD:  Friends?


KATY:  Friends.


CHILD: And making it not – us not be the only people there.


KATY: You like to have a group?


CHILD: Mm-hmm.


KATY: Of people you like to play with. What are other things that make nature time more fun?




KATY: Anything you like to pack with you?


CHILD:  Well mostly like for camping or hiking?


KATY: Either one.


CHILD: Camping – have like a couple games. Hiking – a snack.


KATY: What kind of snacks?


CHILD:  Fruit leathers and probably smoked salmon.


KATY: What games do you like to bring?


CHILD:  Rat a tat cat and cards.


KATY: And cards. All right. What are forageable things that you like?


CHILD: Indian plums, they are a type of blue fruit and they have seeds in them and they’re about 2 centimeters.


KATY: Ok, what else? We’re good right now though. We haven’t seen any of, but we’ll probably gonna see some.


CHILD:  Blackberries. Hmm.


KATY: What’s got a star on the bottom?


CHILD: Oh, um, Salal.


KATY: Yeah.


CHILD: They’re little berries that have a star on the bottom.


KATY: Nice. Ok, let’s talk about bugs.  Are bugs a deterrent? Do bugs keep us off the trail?


CHILD: Um… they’re annoying.


KATY: They’re annoying but what are two ways that you can keep bug disturbance to a minimum.


CHILD: Um…keep hiking.


KATY: Yeah, keep moving.


CHILD: And bug spray.


KATY: And bug spray. Get in the river.


CHILD:  I don’t do that but I thought you were gonna say what about when you’re hiking there is no river.


KATY: That’s true, So when there’s water getting in the water is a nice reprieve. But really stay moving.


All right. So I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did making it. And I am looking forward to more wisdom from kids in the future here on the Move Your DNA podcast with Katy Bowman. Maybe we’ll have to rename this podcast Move Your DNA with Katy Bowman’s kids. And speaking of Move Your DNA with Katy Bowman and do not worry, I’m almost ready to stop referring to myself in the third person.  Have you signed up for my newsletter? Because soon, soon, soon, I am going to be announcing my entire 2019 live class schedule. So it’s, obviously there are going to be a few things that are added along the way because that’s the nature of life. But I have spent the last six weeks or so getting all the details for all the things that are coming up throughout the United States, abroad, including retreats, lectures, and more. So if you are hoping to connect with me in person next year, you will be especially interested in this list. And of course, there are always live classes here in Washington state. Exercise classes – you can come move with me once a week if you want to. You can always find all the details on these at While you’re there, if your appetite has been whetted for more Alignment Matters, the paperback is on sale, half price. So less than 10 bucks, all summer long at Use the code SUMMERBOOKLOVE.  All caps. All one word. We’ll be offering the special price on Alignment Matters through the summer to September 3, 2018, at  Thank you. All of you. For more information visit my website and sign up for my newsletter. I’m sorry to be so bossy.  All indication from audio data show that I always have been.


If you have a question or if there’s something you’d like to know, email If you enjoy listening to Move Your DNA, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts.  Your review helps other listeners decide whether they should take a chance on this show. On behalf of everyone at Move Your DNA and Nutritious Movement, thank you for listening. We appreciate your support.




VOICEOVER: This has been Move Your DNA with Katy Bowman, a podcast about movement. Hopefully, you find the general information in this podcast informative and helpful, but it is not intended to replace medical advice and should not be used as such.


Music fade.


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