I'm always working to expand: folks’ understanding of movement (that “movement” means more than “exercise”); their practice of movement—that is, how they can get more total movement (by fitting it back into daily life, which is where it came from); and how they can get more of their parts moving (by picking activities and modes that get more of them moving). In order to do all three, I like to STACK, permaculture-style, how I move in the world (search #stackyourlife on Instagram to see a bunch of examples).
ENTER THE GREAT PUMPKIN OBSTACLE COURSE, CHARLIE BROWN.
(A little shout out to designer Jill Smith for drawing these dynamic and fun spooky Move Your DNA invites! I mean, there's a spider on a half dome!!! #eightleggedcalfstretch)
This is an event I run because it...
- is FUN. I mean, we’re exercising with pumpkins, yo.
- expands upon and applies the type of movement we offer most frequently. At Nutritious Movement we primarily instruct corrective moves and relate them to larger, natural, non-fitness activities but we rarely teach a class of more freestyle/big movements. For this event, we’re blending our moves with larger, more playful skills that pair well with pumpkins. For example, in class I’ll teach how to measure and correct knee weakness when landing—while walking up or down stairs, or when jumping down off something—but I don’t teach jumping. We have a MovNat instructor joining me (see more below), and MovNat has an entire “how to jump” protocol, so it’s fun to blend and show folks all the ways their movement fits with others’ movement. P.S. Check out Natural Movement Fundamentals—a joint course that blends Nutritious Movement's alignment instruction with MovNat’s larger natural movement fitness skills.
- expands the audience beyond who we usually reach through our classes. We mostly facilitate adult movement, so in this case we can move with more kids and family units because we’ve designed an experience for everyone.
- ties in to community events. Our farmers’ market is across the street, it’s national pumpkin day, and it’s also harvest/Halloween celebration time!
- lets me work while moving. I’ve gone from teaching live, to writing books about movement (less movement for me), and back to teaching live because I find teaching movement while actually moving works best for me.
- lets me work with the fam and my friends. Kids like to learn movement with other kids, and when I run events that keep kids’ needs in mind, I can move and work alongside my husband and kids.
- lets me get creative: I don’t think of my work as highly creative, at least in the sense of whimsy and design, but in this case I can pair my inner decorator with my outer biomechanist for a fun hybrid.
I'm also happy to share the design with you so you can do something similar—in your living room, backyard, neighborhood, classroom, or exercise studio—with similar benefits, so this idea spreads beyond my local to our virtual community. #stacksonstacks
ABOUT THE COURSE
There’s no right or wrong shape to an obstacle course; you just want to make sure your obstacles are scaleable (so everyone can participate at some level, and the person running it is able to offer a level up or down) and sturdy. Below are some snaps of things I’ve done in the past for kid classes, Dynamic Aging workshops, and for our training program, and also stuff we’ve just built in our personal living room for family play, each using what we had on hand at different locations. The point is to take what you already have and dress it up a little, not go out and buy a bunch of stuff.
Some helpful items:
-box of nature: pinecones, acorns, small rocks
Tip: I’ve run both flow-through obstacle courses as well as a version where each “obstacle” is a station. I prefer the latter because it keeps things from getting bottlenecked, it keeps everyone moving the entire time, and no one is performing while a bunch of folks are watching.
THE FLOOR IS LAVA
Move from yoga block to yoga block (or inverted half foam rollers, in our case), or pillow to pillow without touching the floor. We like to add BOSUs and spinning boards to make things even more challenging.
Think “the floor is lava” and “the claw” arcade game (where you try to grab a stuffed animal or a bunch of candy with a mechanical claw, but the claw only holds really gross candy and never once a stuffy). Set up some blocks and domes to balance on (or some books and fire wood) and scatter leaves, stones, sticks, acorns, or plastic spiders. Or real spiders! Your goal is to use your toes to pick up the smaller items while balanced on your home base. Can you grab five items with each foot and not fall off? You can also easily do a seated version, and P.S. this is a very commonly prescribed foot-strengthening exercise, so if you’ve been told you need to do this, grab a kid and a costume and make a game out of it!
BASIC BALANCE WITH OBSTACLES
Have peeps walk a seam, line of tape, 2x4, or elevated 2x4 (we support ours in at least three places with blocks), whichever they feel most comfortable with. Add pumpkins (or other squash, blocks, stacks of books, leaves) to add more complexity.
To make it easier, place the walk against a wall or counter so there’s something to grab on to. To make it harder, give them something to carry, LIKE MORE PUMPKINS.
For a more dynamic option, we’ve placed one end of a 2X4 on a BOSU (or sometimes three).
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Place blankets over rows of chairs and encourage various ways to make it through the tunnel—on your elbows, hands and knees, flat on your stomach, or on your back. How do you get up and down to get in and out? How about carrying something (like a pumpkin!!!) as you get yourself through?
Have folks stack up pumpkins to the height they can jump (or step) over! Do one, or put them in a series.
SPIDERWEB MONKEY BARS
Combining string and monkey bars is a great way to turn basic hangs into more fun, complex, and mindful sessions. Add a chair for those who might want it—and the hanging/climbing part is also scaleable; folks can crawl through and underneath as well.
Don’t have monkey bars? Wind string between chairs for a similar effect, or if you have outside space, use your landscape. I teach something similar at a local nature school by winding string through a small grove of trees. Play a giant game of “spider tag,” where you not only have to stay away from the spider, but also keep from touching the web.
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Today's obstacle course: a giant "spiderweb" between the trees down by the river. You could go up and around the tees, along the ground, and jump, bend and weave through the rest--just no touching the string! Games invented: spider tag (everyone crawls if not climbing or jumping; get frozen by the spider or the string), spider-web Marco Polo: spider has eyes closed and moves along the string, all flies have to answer BUZZ when she shouts "flies"!
-How many pumpkins can you carry from point A to point B?
-Replace the goats in your goat yoga class with pumpkins
-Texture walk (instead of putting your hands in a box to figure out what stuff is, how about walking on--legos, pinecones or stones, or better yet, some pumpkin guts!)
-Pumpkin catapult (messy but fun)
-Capture the pumpkin (like capture the flag, only edible)
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"Mom, can we play toss the squash?" YES. I like to grow 'em and throw 'em (and will eat this when we're done so VERY #stackyourlife, hey?). The #nutritiousmovement team just had a wonderful four days with the @movnat team in the form of a movement co-lab and we've created something I think many of you will be stoked to be able to train with. I have found the content from their level one cert so helpful and relevant to filling a moment, a day, a life with movement (go take one!). No one ever threw anything to me when I was a kid and I, then, never threw anything back. So what joy to not only throw stuff now, but to be able to spend my throwing time with littles who are nourished by it in so many ways (#movnatinthehooouuse #literally). We're about to do a 7km trek down to the river with 50 people so they can gather some organic weights (rocks) to learn to carry them well (and how to #varytheircarry, how to share the load over their body, over each other) to help resolve a movement deficiency that's expressing in their core area. If it hasn't occurred to you yet, go get something (anything, any weight you can manage--a squash, a log, a rock) to start hoisting--especially if you like to follow my end of year MOVEMENT ADVENT CALENDAR. There, you've been notified. #moveyourdna #letthemmovetheirdna #letthemmoveyourdna #movnat
The principles of an event like this can be applied to any event—they’re not holiday or even pumpkin dependent. It’s really just an opportunity to get folks together to see all the ways we can move, move for fun, move together, and move to celebrate.