Idea of Play in Training – Variety for Fun and Progress

Posted on January 14, 2010. Filed under: Performance | Tags: , , |

Introduction: Play defined

I’ve read quite a bit on Exuberant Animal and Ido Portal’s forum and find that the idea of play seems to be missing from many of our own training sessions. Before we start off. Let me go ahead and define what this terms mean and from there explain how we could hopefully use these in our practice to bring increased gains in our flexibility and strength.

As taken from


3. exercise or activity for amusement or recreation.
4. fun or jest, as opposed to seriousness: I said it merely in play.
18. freedom of movement within a space, as of a part of a mechanism.
19. freedom for action, or scope for activity: full play of the mind.

What does it mean to Play in Training?

How many times do we view exercise as a chore, as something that we have to do vs. something we want to do?

How many times do we view exercise as a way to escape reality, versus actually focusing on what we are presently doing?

How many times do we choose to confine ourselves within the program, rather than experimenting, or as Stuart Brown likes to put it, “exploring” (a type of play suggested by Stuart Brown), our own personal boundaries and where it may take us?

Play: It doesn't have to be this Serious!

Asking myself these same questions, I did many of the things more often then not. I realized that training isn’t about the goal, but the journey towards the goal. The effort I put towards getting towards my goal is just as important. That effort I put in shouldn’t be too hard or too easy, but just right and play helps us get there.

In Stuart Brown’s book, “Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul,” he explains that the nature of play and the basis behind it leads to increases in not only creativity/imagination, but in learning and social progress in an individual. I might also add that play is easy for our body to handle. We don’t think about what we need to do or what we have to do, and simply just do it for what it’s worth. For those that tend to demand rigor this may be a hard concept to grasp, but if you’ve ever just played you’ll know what I’m talking about.

You don’t care how tired you get, you don’t care what you’re doing, and you don’t care who you’re doing it with, it’s all fun and games and for training allows you to do more, helping you progress that much faster.

Rather than carefully and examining every protocol and how it might better than us, why don’t we “Just do it”. See for ourselves what might happen and experiment and explore our self-limits. Bruce Lee stated “Using no way, as way,” which simply means that there is nothing to stop us, and that is the way we choose to be. The only reason we may stop doing something is because for some reason we defeat ourselves and that’s also where plays tends to shine. You can’t get defeated in play

Play provides the potential for us to focus without focusing. To learn without learning. To be structured without structure. It’s a way for us to enjoy and have fun, have a blast, and create an environment where rigidity is destroyed. I’m not saying that form, technique, and skill needs to be thrown out the window, but that an environment of play (serious when it needs to be, fun it ought to be) will promote a much better environment for us to learn, grow, get stronger, and prosper.

Play: Don't Restrict, Create!

Application of Play in Training? How’d You Do It?

It’s easy. Start out with one day where you don’t have anything specific to do. Just do what you feel like. From there don’t bind yourself to what you think you should do. Roll around and try a Kettlebell press from whatever position you land in. Swing on Monkey bars and whichever position your hands are in and whichever way your feet are hanging, keep them there and Pull-Up.

Do Turkish Get-Ups, and make an exercise of presses on each part of the Turkish Get-Up, etc. Don’t limit yourself and have fun!



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