by Bernadette Hageman
One of the most frequent jokes we hear from new clients is “there are a lot of animals and reptiles in this studio.” They’re referring to our bodyweight exercise warm-up. We choose to crawl like a bear and lizard, hop like a frog and move across the floor like an inchworm, to get the body ready for the workout while strengthening and stabilizing the hands, forearm, shoulders, core, quadriceps, feet and ankles.
We also do these exercises to increase the body’s range of motion and to remind you that your body is not only capable of these movement patterns. We also want to remind you and your body that these movements are primal.
Somewhere between your childhood and now, we’ve unknowingly convinced ourselves that “our bodies can’t move that way.” I once had a client tell me exactly that. What was surprising was she was youthful…only 24, and yet she moved like she was elderly and arthritic. Our biggest challenge together was not her current movement patterns, but her unwillingness to believe that she was capable of moving beyond her current limitations.
This video is my reminder to her and to others who believe our bodies “can’t move this way.” This video is of my granddaughter Aubrie (Yes, she really is my granddaughter). Here’s Aubrie at six months old. Take a moment to watch her seamlessly move from the frog into a few bear crawl patterns. These movements are controlled by the central and peripheral(somatic)nervous system. It’s almost like breathing at that age. She’s not thinking about how to do it, she just does it!
When doing the bear crawl remember:
- Hands and toes are in contact with the floor.
- Keep the torso/trunk long.
- The hands and legs move forward in opposition.
- Keep the hands under the shoulders.
- Don’t elevate the hips too high (however you can do so if you’re a beginner). The goal is to keep the hips low. This activates the core and allows them to do their job as stabilizers.
Try incorporating the bear crawl and the other animal movements/body weight exercises into your warm-up/workout. You’ll find several of them here at an earlier post from Hans “Bodyweight Exercises You Can (Should) Do Anywhere.” Performing each of these exercises from 30 seconds to 2-3 minutes is a warm-up/workout, guaranteed! Remember don’t rush through them. Always choose good form over high repetitions. If you’re unable to maintain good form, rest for 30 seconds or more if needed before beginning the next exercise. Enjoy getting strong and mobile.
Any questions about the movements? Send us an email.