In this article series, we will present you with different perspectives and thoughts on movement training and movement culture. We will talk to different people with different genders, ages and backgrounds. This article was written by Veronika, one of our longest members and working as a doctor in Berlin. We asked her about her perspective on movement training and movement culture. You will see that this is not a typical "doctor" article. In her slightly sarcastic way, she explains why she is a member of the Bewegungskollektiv Berlin and why she believes in the philosophy of movement.
Disclaimer: this article contains strong language and is both politically incorrect and heavily opinionated. If you're an easily offended snowflake I assume you might eventually profit from reading it, but if you're not yet ready for a world with a serious lack of glitter and unicorns, you might consider to melt your way out of here before someone gets hurt. #Bewater, ya know.
Still here? Good.
So why do I move?
Quite frankly, I shouldn't. See, I'm a doctor. I don't smoke, don't take drugs (lets ignore the fact I spent 10+ € today on coffee), rarely drink alcohol and do eat my veggies. I LIKE eating my veggies. I even grow my own veggies! I get to work by bike. Worse, I go on my rare holidays on that freaking bike, as in "cycling across the Alps to Albania within a fortnight" and shit like that. I've been an avid runner since Uni and only reduced my running sessions once I implemented weight training instead. To sum it all up, I don't need to add a mysteriously sounding "practice regime" with a cult-like looking gang of weirdos to qualify as an utterly annoying person. Instead, I would be much more empathetic with many of my patients if I would not try and challenge things as they are.
Let's take Stevie, 20sth years old, slouching in his chair whilst waiting for an hour in my office
(Sorry, Sir, you're not the only one today, surprise, huh?), hunchbacked over his smartphone, complaining to me about back pain, asking for a sick leave from work and an urgent appointment with a physio. Maybe the physio can do a home visit? And could we please add massage therapy as well? And Fango? All covered by public health insurance, Yours Sincerely? Sure, mate, anything else on your shopping list? Lifestyle changes maybe? Just asking, they are on offer, ya know, like, for free. Not today? Ibuprofen instead? Ever wondered how our ancestors made it through the harshness of prehistoric times and famine and wars and barbarian invasions and thingies like the Roman Empire with freaking LATIN as its bureaucratic language and nothing to fight the plague but thoughts and prayers? Like, for us to come into being? Nah, me neither.
Well, actually I DO wonder.
That's kinda the core of the issue. If I didn't overthink things, I would have run away with the circus at age 14. At least, if I had made it through medschool with a bit less worrying and fear to gloriously fuck things up, I would have chosen a surgical career and not battled through internal medicine ER night shifts guestimating what's the issue with people's blood- gas analyses. But there's me, cautiously steering through life, admiring all the little gadgets built into universe, wondering how is all this possible and then looking around and watching my fellow humans and wondering, now how the fuck is all this possible?
Movement is a bit like the physical manifestation of that, minus the fearful paralysis. You wonder how the fuck is that possible and then go and try and are like, aha, that's how it's the fuck possible and then you actually make it possible for yourself and in your own life, too.
So what does this have to do with little Stevie? Our friend in pain, you remember. I could preach about the obvious lack of physical activity, desk bound work and a sedentary lifestyle. I'm that annoying doctor after all, occasionally cycling 200km a day, may I kindly remind you. But nah, I let other folks do the mundane work. Also I guess it'd be more effective to talk to a blank wall about moving more than to sedentary people. Which at times I would prefer, I imagine walls to be excellent listeners. But me, an overthinker that I am, I'm upscaling the stake at play. So poor Stevie, in pain, unhappy, sedentary life, pissed off about the hour waiting time, aimlessly scrolling his phone, and here I am, digging into his issues to a whole new level of pain: Not his lifestyle, but his life. And his view on it all.
His attitude of expecting the world to a) serve him and b) save him.
Unfortunately, it won't do either. Despite, maybe even because of, a fairly widespread social security network, the universe won't give two fucks. Don't get me wrong, I am all in for social security. Your public health insurance is what pays my salary after all, and also I grew up with a fair share of german angst and got branded into my brain to better have plan B and C ready in stock, just in case. Maybe work on D, too. But neither the social security net parting us from The Abyss nor me popping up with a whole alphabet of plans will really be of help for Stevie. He'll still remain clueless about what is actually wrong and how to get out of his misery. Now before the Physios among you are slaughtering me, I am aware you're working hard and doing an awesome job. But let's be honest, it could be a lot less hard if your precious hours weren't occupied by Stevies expecting you to save them. You're good people, sure, but you ain't Jesus. Thus, Stevie will be a feast for the devils among his fellow humans. They will milk the shit out of him being generally lost in life, selling him short term fixes for his perceived issue at the best and more problems with more shallow solutions to be paid for with his desk bound earned money at the worst (waist trainer, anyone?). It's pretty astounding how gullibly humans are willing to buy into such superficial solutions and leave their brain at the wardrobe when running on the hedonistic treadmill. The only thing more astounding is that I'm still not making business on that.
Me, hippocratic oath and stuff, whether pirate at heart or not, am first and foremost obliged to not harm my patients. Thus, I don't sell them bullshit (at least that's my excuse. I am also horribly bad at anything money business, but that doesn't sound as heroic). If I did, I would by now happily cruise the carribean on my private yacht instead of writing moany articles like this one. Ironically, quite some patients - aka the snowflakes who have melted further above - will take such offense for being told they're taken for a ride that they blame ME for causing them suffering by telling them so rather than to challenge the quick fix itself and their belief in it. (I should definitely get a nice wall to talk to. My personal Wailing Wall, it would be my daily dose of mental quick fix. I'll put black padding on it and call it the Black Hole To All Sorrow.)
So let's suppose I'm right (you better assume I am, taken I am the god damn creator of fictional Stevie) and Stevie's issues are rooted in his attitude to life and the world as such. Movement, for brainy me, is much more about addressing this attitude than about learning a one-arm handstand (though I would happily take that on the go, too).
"You cannot control what happens to you in life but you can control how you react to it." Well, can you?
For me, "Movement" starts at realizing where you currently stand and what your abilities are.
To acknowledge why and how you do the things you do and why and how you don't do the things you don't do - in training as well as in life. Now you don't need movement for these realizations, but it makes them way more tangible and less avoidable. It's damn uncomfortable in the beginning as you'll notice a shit lot of flaws and fears. But, let's be honest, not noticing your flaws would not make them magically disappear, and expecting you would not have any would by definition make you both an idiot and a class A arsewhole which are kinda big flaws in themselves. And not acknowledging your fears will be the best fertilizer for them to grow in the dark and neglected corners of your mind whilst you're not watching them, ready to catch you from under your bed one day when you're home alone and the night is dark. Thus, knowledge is power. From there, it is upon you to either challenge your patterns or go on like you always did. Act or react? Resist or give in? Get around or confront? Stay calm or panic? Face the fear or turn away? Thoroughly think things through (you're not looking at me, are you?) or trust your instinct? None of this will be an easy either-or, black or white, yes or no, but each a far ranging spectrum of possibilities. You can choose to clinch to one fixed spot on one spectrum or to learn to move along all these spectrums more and more freely, but you cannot not choose. It's your life and nobody's gonna live it for you. And even the people in the world who do give a fuck about you can neither choose nor change for you.
So I choose to move. Why do I stick with it?
And why do I write a good damn lengthy article about it? Me, still unable to perform a stable handstand nor a single flip? No fancy insta videos, no belt or certificate to show me and the world I am making some kind of progress? After, like, almost 3 years of training? The fuck? And daring to write this article from my comfy couch, not squatting on the floor, not wrapping my legs around a Paleochairthingy (seriously, which desperate fucker came up with that marketing strategy, ever realized those stone age folks might have had other business to do than dragging 1m³ pillows around the eurasian vastness in their so praised NON SEDENTARY lifestyle??). Couldn't be more pretentious, could it. But there I am, cuddled in my likely child labored scarf on my very likely child labored couch, legs bend for hours, basically doomed to premature bodily deterioration and early death, sipping fair trade vegan hot chocolate flown in from somewhere sub saharan africa, contemplating the flaws and choices of my very own life and lifestyle. Which, with exploitation of other beings obviously firmly implemented anyway, a second medical specialization round the corner, travel medicine certificate in my pocket, sports medicine qualification lined up, could after all lead up to a glorious future on shiny cruise ships selling senior citizens who can't even put on their shoes without assistance into exotic and expensive diving expeditions on palm tree lined beaches and coral reefs about to die (the reefs, not the seniors, to prevent that is what I'm supposed to be around for).
But here I am, sticking to those Bewegungskollektiv bunch of hippies,
who ain't seem like ever making any noteworthy money out of all their abilities, even now that this movement thingy is sold as the latest hot shit, lizard-videos all over social media. Worse, me, self declared independence lover and lonely wolf, and don't tell that to anyone, has her heart skip a beat each time I see any of them at training, struggling with some shit like forever and then, all of a sudden, they got it and handstand, macaco or backflip out of where they're stuck in training or life like they were never meant to do anything else (that is, if I wasn't a heartless person, emotionally speaken).
Now before it gets all too cosy in here, let's admit, how relevant could these considerations be to anyone else?
When asked to write about Movement from "my" perspective, I could as well have taken the distant viewpoint of me as an aspiring sports medicine specialist, dropping sciency words investigating "the correlation between cigarettes smoked and level of aversion to aerobic endurance training of the common mover: an analytical observation", or "instant gratification on social media versus intrinsically motivated exploration: effects on movement learning. A non representative, uncontrolled, kinda random field study". Let's be honest, we'd be all bored to death before reaching one and a half sentences. Thing is, I don't need more people close to death. If anything, I need them to be as agile and fresh and furthest away from any need of a doctor as possible (you could nevertheless do me a favor and make a move (Ha!) towards that by quitting smoking anyway, ya know, → thatannoyingdoctoragain). Also, luckily, you don't need any movement guru, neither self declared nor social media hyped, to tell you how movement "works" or "has to be done" to start it. Just note where you are now, and explore how to get somewhere else.
Now. It's still Movement.
You can still just aim for the "cool stuff, bro"-insta videos if you solely nurish on instant gratification by virtual hearts to find a meaning in life. You'd miss a great deal, but as we say in medicine, you can't save them all. Sure Movement ain't gonna save the world, and it ain't gonna change it either. But it can change your take on it. It might help you, me and some of the Stevies in the world to be a bit more aware of how we are moving through life (see what I did there!), how we wish we were moving through life and how to grow the guts to move from the one state to the other. Maybe Stevie takes out of this that, taken he's not an ICU patient yet, nobody can take better care of his body than himself and might redesign his office workplace with a desk adjustable in height, stretch every half hour during work or even get himself a shiny Paleochairthingy cause he still likes external solutions to ease his everyday life, and let's be honest, if everyone would be such a shitty consumer like me, GDP would be up the arse and I'm still living in the illusion to one day get paid some pension if I didn't die from a rant induced heart attack before (physically, I still have the inconvenience of a heart).
But maybe Stevie also realizes that 1) he doesn't need a Paleochairthingy (farewell, pension) and besides that 2) notes he is at most occasions in life opting for the easiest solution, avoids challenges and keeps himself out of any potential conflict.
Thus slouching on a chair when he could be stretching his aching body and aimlessly scrolling his phone when he could use the time to get a glimpse of idea what else to do in life than what he does now for a living, which might have made sense when finishing school with the mindset he was taught there but what he basically hates to do now, which nevertheless takes his energy and lifetime away from caring for his family and friends or whatever he finds actually valuable and important in life, which results in him being chronically unhappy, stressed and tensed which might be the actual reason he is in pain and feels so helpless. And then, he might even develop the courage to not only realize all this, but to sort shit out, act on it and align his life better with what's actually valuable to him.
You might have realized that Stevie is a made-up character, but basically, he's not that far from me in regards to the mismatch between life as it is and life as it should be. Don't get me wrong, my current workplace is ranking among the top of all 9 or 10 workplaces I had throughout my many rotations into all kinds of medical departments, despite the cruel fact that we don't even have real coffee there and I'm surviving on some instant powder stuff. It's the mills of society in general and the health system in particular that are grinding everyone down. But not me much longer, cause I'll have my own take on it. I haven't 100% figured it out yet, but I did wanna expand my range of acting away from overthinking everything, right? Thus, whatever it will be, it will be gorgeous, and I'm moving in the right direction, as in "away from where I am now", even though I don't know where that will lead through or to yet. Maybe I'll rent out Paleochairthingies facing black padded walls to people who just need a rant, who knows?