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Episode 28: Do you play?

Video Highlights

​Hi, everybody.

Dr. Eric Cobb back with you this week. I hope that you’re doing fantastically well.

This week what I want to talk about is one of my very favorite topics, which is play.

Let me explain how this came up. Two weeks ago, we taught our advanced course called Skill & Style and the whole intent behind that course is to ensure that our trainers are not only equipped to teach people how to do better pushups and squats and work in the gym, but in fact, encourage people to push their boundaries, to get out and play golf and play tennis, play other sports.

So, what we do in that course is we take four days and we go through the basics of the ten most popular sports from around the world and we show our trainers exactly how to teach the technique, because what we found over time is that people, when they understand how movement works and how games work, they are much more willing to engage in them.

​Why is that important to me? Well, I’m going to refer you to a book this week called Play by Dr. Stuart Brown. It is one of my favorite books, because basically what it explores is how play actually shapes both our behavior and our brains.

If you go to a playground, you watch kids running around, it doesn’t look like they’re accomplishing anything. They’re just running around willy-nilly, climbing on monkey bars and jumping over things, but the fact is in play, it allows us a safe exploration of the world.

What we found, especially in research is that mammals of all sorts, including human beings, whenever play is taken out of the equation, harm ensues. We actually see decreased brain development, we see decreased brain activity. We see decreased intelligent, decreased movement skills.

​See, the thing that we want for all of ourselves, for our clients, is we want play to be an intrinsic part of our lives. So, what is play like? Well, play is really hard to define, but basically what we tell people is, “You know it when you see it.”

​Years ago, I was teaching a course and I had a bunch of trainers standing in front of me. I said, “All right, guys. We’re going to do some work, but before we do that, I want to warm up, but instead of doing any kind of traditional warm-up, I want you guys to just go play for about five or ten minutes and come back when you feel good.” It was amazing to watch this group of professional trainers, fitness professionals, athletes turn and look at one another with kind of this sheepish grin or look on their face to go, “Play? What do you mean by play?” They stood there for a minute or two and then some of them dropped down and started doing push-ups and others started doing pull ups. It was this kind of strange process in my head, where I went, “Wow. Are we so confused at this point between playing and working out in the gym that we really don’t know the difference anymore?”

​What I would like for you to do this week is I want you to examine your life and see if there are areas where you can do more play.

Now, play as Dr. Brown talks about it is apparently pointless. That doesn’t mean that it’s pointless, but it’s apparently pointless, meaning it’s not going toward earning a living right now or anything else, but it’s something that’s apparently pointless, but it is so fun and engaging that you lose track of time. That’s one of my key hallmarks. Every time that I’m trying to introduce more play into my own life, whether it’s through art, drawing, whether it’s through movement, whether it’s through sport, the main goal I go into every activity with at this point in my life is to lose myself in it and lose track of time, because I know that whenever I’ve lost track of time and I’m enjoying the process, I’m really engaging in play. What I know about that is it’s not only good for my body, it’s one of the very best things I can do for my brain.

​This week I’m going to encourage you find those places, find that space in your life, add in a little bit more play. It’s going to pay off huge benefits in the end and you know what? You’ll have a lot of fun, too.

​Thanks so much. Have a great week.

Talk to you soon.

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