Furniture Free February
As I am writing this, the midwest is seeing some of the coldest temps in a generation. On the radio today they were discussing how there are adults who have never experienced temps this cold. As I huddle in front of the fire, bundled up and burrowed under a pile of furry pets, the actual temperature is -23. That's not counting the howling wind chill that is pushing ice crystals up the insides of the windowpanes.
Why do I mention this? Well, because there's no way in hell I'm walking outside today.
And so it is in places where the weather is unpleasant sometimes. We're right in the middle of a cold winter and my body definitely knows it. Not only do I want to EAT ALL THE THINGS and then go to sleep, I also am not moving as much, since the outdoors have lost all the degrees. Where did they go? It's a mystery.
It's moments like these that ask for a little ingenuity, and I'm happy to report that movement while housebound is possible. It might even ward off cabin fever! All through January I have been a mischievous little elf, putting up funny little obstacles at the studio to encourage some movement diversity in our indoor landscape. But there's a simpler way, friends!
Get off the furniture.
What the? I hear you say. Yes, just because the furniture is there doesn't mean you have to sit on it. I'm not being snarky - this thought had honestly never occurred to me until Katy Bowman said it. But why would I choose NOT to sit on the comfy furniture? Well, for starters, the furniture shapes your body in similar furniture ways. There isn't a lot of variety in chair sitting, but there's a whole lot of volume (time we sit there). If we're sitting on the floor we are free to shape our body however we like! And there's room to do it, too. I'm sitting on the floor as I write this, and I've sat in at least half a dozen different positions since I began typing. So I'm sitting, but I'm also moving quite a lot, and with a lot of variety! I feel like furniture is an invitation to stillness, whereas the floor is an invitation to movement. And just to be completely clear, we're not just talking about exercise as movement. I'm typing a blog right now, and I'm sitting in a modified squat. Not a gym squat. A Natural Human Movement type of squat.
Which brings up another benefit of floor sitting - strength! When we sit on furniture we are asking the furniture to hold our bodies up in a certain position. We are not doing the work - the chair is. Its strength outsourcing. So we sit supported by furniture all day, and then go to the gym or the studio to work on our core strength, glute strength, arm strength, etc. Now I'm not trying to tell you that strengthening exercise is bad, not at all! But imagine how much further ahead of the game we would be if we stopped outsourcing the work of holding up our bodies to the furniture? Then the gym wouldn't be life support, it would be gas in the tank!
Which reminds me, how often do you get to the gym? No shaming here, just an honest question. We all have something in common, and that is that our lives are fast, full, and busy! So if we're honest, it's pretty easy to let our workouts slide off the priority list when we have to scrape time out of our day and go someplace to do it. Now, what if I told you that sitting furniture free is the workout you can do any time you want, as much as you want - and it counts! It's not HIIT, but slow and steady wins this race, friend. Here's the math - if you work out an hour a day, every day, and then sit on the furniture the rest of the time, you are only active 4% of your day. Which makes you 96% sedentary. Just saying. I'm no math wizard, but even I can tell that a one hour workout, no matter how intense, is not going to make up for 23 non moving hours. It just doesn't square.
So we decide to embrace alliteration and vow spend a month getting off the furniture for our health - is it that easy? Well, yes and no. You can always decide to interact with your environment differently. The couch doesn't MAKE you sit on it. That's a choice. However, since you've been choosing it ( A LOT, if you're a westerner with a pulse) your body is not ready to go cold turkey. Let's face it - everything I've just said to you probably isn't really closing the deal on this furniture free February idea because in the back of your mind you know that sitting on the floor will be UNCOMFORTABLE. And why is that? Because your body is used to being padded and supported pretty much all the time. This means that getting off the furniture is a little trickier than just deciding to; it means you'll need to have a plan, and take your time getting your body acclimated to this brave new world.
Throughout February I'll be posting on Facebook and Instagram about furniture freedom and how to work toward it, and I'll also be hosting a Saturday workshop on February 9th! But if you're committed and burning to do some training RIGHT NOW, then try this: sit on the edge of the edge of the couch or chair and straighten your legs, heels on the floor. Sit up, don't let your pelvis roll back which turn your spine into a C curve slump. If you find that you can't straighten your knees without rocking backward or without unpleasant tension, then you have some hamstring stretching to do! How do you do that? Easy! Keep sitting like this! If I had to guess, you're not going to stay here very long at first because it's work and it's tiring! And that's totally okay. Move into it and then out again. Vary it up. That's the whole point, right? And as you slowly work to the floor you can begin to discover all the creative ways we can sit when the furniture is out of our way. Need some inspiration? Watch a little kid!