the joy of strength training


July 5th, 2010 at 12:18 am

Be playful

Playing with a kettlebell

Opportunities for play are never more present than in these long, hot days of summer – of which we in the UK have been enjoying many recently and I hope you are too, wherever you are.

This weekend I went to a garden party featuring a ‘summer olympics’ of mad games including such classics as welly wanging and tug of war, as well as more unusual challenges involving the carrying of objects in weird ways (have you ever tried to run holding a potato between your legs?), lots of wet sponges, cartwheel races and general larking about.

What I noticed (aside from the fact that I am useless at welly wanging and I ached in unusual places the next day) was the way everyone behaved, both adults and children. The kids threw themselves into everything and were full of beans all day. Their energy is astonishing, as anyone who has kids will tell you. It’s inspiring as well.

The adults were torn between being competitive and just having a laugh. As the day went on, the cheating got more outrageous. It became clear, however, that the best time is when people are being competitive in the context of the game without actually minding who wins. In other words, getting involved in the process without worrying about the outcome. That is essential for true play.

The day was a great reminder of two important things: first, to put a bit of play back into training, even if its just getting a few people together and seeing who can throw a kettlebell the furthest (as we did recently at Crossfit Reading‘s open day). The great thing about ‘silly’ games is that you can persuade people to participate who otherwise would be afraid to do something more ‘serious’. But if you are prepared to wang a welly, why not a tire or a kettlebell?

The second is to focus on the process rather than the outcome. At Wimbledon, the most successful tennis players are those who focus not on the outcome (‘I must win’) but on the process, playing each point as it comes. One point at a time, one throw at a time, one lift at a time. Try to make each lift the best lift of the day.

By the way, Bodytribe has a new DVD coming out this summer based on the notion of putting play back into training. Watch a preview here.

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  • 1

    Love it. It is amazing what can be done when you ‘play’
    You can totally immerse yourself in the activity, and before you realise you have worked harder than you believed you would, and more importantly you have enjoyed it.

    Steve on July 5th, 2010
  • 2

    That has really made me think. I do play when I’m training sometimes – training for the strength and power event and trying new stuff e.g sled, tyres etc was great fun and I used to tell people when they asked what training I had planned ‘I’m going out to play in the garden’. However, in other situations I’m too hung up on being rubbish instead of getting stuck in and just playing and having a laugh. Recently I refused to play a game of table football or pool because I’m useless….. so what! Why didn’t I just do it and have a laugh?! It’s not as though I’m that bothered what people think of me any more. And I was with good friends. I think it’s some sort of fear of failure. The times I do make myself do something I’m unsure about I usually enjoy it!

    I love the idea of a ‘summer olympics’and I think I’m going to pinch it. What else did you do, apart from welly wanging, tug of war, running holding a potato between your legs, and cartwheel races, which you’ve mentioned above?

    Thanks for inspiring me yet again 🙂

    Louisa on July 5th, 2010
  • 3

    Louisa, I’m the same. You know what I was thinking about when I so badly wanged my welly (almost taking out a group of small children in the process)? That scene in My Best Friend’s Wedding when Cameron Diaz is forced to get up to sing and she’s so bad but she does it with gusto anyway, isn’t ashamed of herself and everyone ends up loving it!
    ‘Fear of failure’ is often a nice way of saying ‘fear of damaged ego’.

    Right, other games: egg throwing. In pairs, start fairly close together and after every throw, one side takes a step back. Obviously if you break your egg you are eliminated.
    Hilarious relay race: drink half a can of cheap lager, run out to a pole/broomstick. With one end of pole on your forehead and the other on the ground, spin around 10 times then attempt to run back to your team in a straight line and tag the next person. This is bloody hilarious!! Most people cannot run in a straight line after this.

    gubernatrix on July 5th, 2010
  • 4

    Fear of damaged ego! Exactly! I must remember that! But I don’t understand why I’m afraid of damaging my ego when I’m among friends who I know couldn’t care less whether I’m good at stuff or not. They like me for who I am and not what I’m good or bad at.

    Those events sound great. I’ll let you know what we do and how we get on.
    Thank you

    Louisa on July 5th, 2010
  • 5

    Before I try to import this Welly Wagging into picnics in No.Cal, I must know what exact is this distance? (in feet and yards, please?):
    The welly shall land within the area defined by the straight lines between the Upperthong Gala field and Holme Moss television mast on one side, and on the other by the line between the field and Longley Farm windmill. This playing area is known as the ‘Thong’.

    deb roby on July 6th, 2010
  • 6

    It be sixteen codgels long and five-and-a-quarter gadzooks wide. We usually measure it out with a thamoset.

    gubernatrix on July 6th, 2010
  • Boris on July 7th, 2010
  • 8

    Good link Boris, thanks!

    gubernatrix on July 7th, 2010
  • 9

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  • 10

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