So heres something I was thinking about a propos of Dan Johns lecture at the Perform Better conference a couple of weeks back.

Most peoples fitness activities involve low skill, high effort activities.

Or perhaps I should say that the fitness industry has sold us on the notion that getting fit by necessity involves a lot of low skill, high effort activities.

Think about your average gym: treadmills, stationary bikes, ellipticals, weight machines, hell, Ill even toss many free-weight movements under the bus. Whats the learning curve on those moves? How long does it take to MASTER most big-box gym activities?

About 30 seconds.

The philosophy behind most gym activities is this: What can we have people do that NO ONE will find challenging to learn, but that we can make progressively more and more difficult?

Answer? Dumbbell curls. Seated pec-deck flyes. Lat pulldowns. Riding a stationary bike.

For all intents and purposes, these moves take your brain out of the equation. You dont have to pay attention to them, so most people dont: they just space out, watch the TV, and wait for their 20 minutes in the fat-burning zone to elapse.

Congratulations: weve invented a way of getting fit that circumvents the brainthat pesky gray matter between our earsso we can make our muscles bigger and stronger and our heart pump faster doing movements that have nothing to do with anything humans are supposed to do with their bodies.

Essentially, these fitness activities are a cheat: they allow us to exert ourselves BEFORE we know how to move with coordination and skill. They are, once again, low-skill, high-effort activities.

Running in running shoes? Same deal: high effort, low skill. Running barefoot? High efforthigh skill. Youve got to learn to do it reasonably well before you can do it with any effort.

Isnt it interesting that the addition of more technology (lat pulldown machines, running shoes) lowers the skill-bar while allowing us to raise the effort bar?

Dan John said that we all need to spend more time in doing high-skill, low-effort activities. I couldnt agree more.

Then and only then, I think, we should add effort.

I find it interesting that the activities most people rave about, and really enjoy, have a skill component: yoga. Boxing. Actual, outdoor cycling. MMA and other martial arts. Dance of all kinds.

If we get back to a skill-based fitness model I think were all the more likely to enjoy ourselves and reach our fitness goals at the same time.

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Effort, High Effort, Low Skill
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