The same mentality that brought us chairs and long days in front of computers brought us work out machines and gym memberships. Inactivity and a sedentary lifestyles create poor postural and movement patterns and we take these poor patterns into all forms of exercise as we attempt to get fit and make up for all the sitting and inactivity, it’s a vicious cycle we go round and round in.
Do you see lions, tigers or bears working out in gyms? It’s a silly question but if you take a moment to think about it wild animals spend most of their time sitting or lying around, not training for hunting, all this interrupted by short bursts of extreme physical activity. It’s remarkable to see the quality and tone of the muscles of a running gazelle or even a wart hog for that matter. Animals are well-muscled and well-coordinated and manage to stay this way without lifting weights or spending hours on a trend mill or elliptical machine.
Dr. Eric Goodman has uncovered the secret to this type of “fitness”, nature’s own recipe for being lean, outrageously strong and looking good without having to lift weights (other than your own limbs). If you want a body that looks like a sleek and fit wild animal then you need to do what they do. Imagine a race horse on a stair master trying to get bigger calves or a bull doing squats to get an edge on the next cowboy. That would be ridiculous, as ridiculous as a human on a series of strength training machines. If we could only see ourselves!
I first learned about Foundation Training from a patient of mine who sent me a copy of Dr. Eric Goodman and Peter Park’s book and DVD. After wading through the materials I was skeptical as it seemed like a minor twist on an age old theme of fitness through proper movement. I have been around for a while and have studied most of the age-old and modern systems of healing these types of movement, or lack of movement, induced problems. My background includes 30 years of yoga practice and cycling and I spent over 18 years studying various movement and postural alignment techniques, including training in the Alexander Technique, Rosen Method, two years of Buddhist monastic training with an emphasis on posture and yoga exercises and a twenty year career as a chiropractor focused on correcting posture misalignments and body mechanics.
Using the hips to hinge, paying special attention to the head/neck relationship, developing the core strength of the posterior chain vs. limb strength or ab strength I’d heard all this before, thirty years before and have had decades of personal experience with the various systems out there that attempt to focus on these concepts. So I put the book down, ignored the DVD and didn’t try Foundation Training. (Hint, this was a mistake, don’t do this.)
Fortunately I was offered a couple of sessions with a Foundation Training expert trained by Dr. Goodman to learn about the work directly and I grudgingly went along with it just to check out what the buzz was around Foundation Training. Literally two minutes into the exercises I realized something special was going on here. Dr. Goodman has taken a very well-worn path and blazed a completely new trail which is impossible to appreciate or understand until you get your first two minutes of Foundation Training and the light bulb goes on.
Foundation Training is like powerlifting or Olympic weight training for your deep postural muscles. As we sit a lot, collapsed, and work on computers these deep postural muscles degrade and weaken to the point they can no longer function and hold us up. Even the “fit” among us, professional athletes, tend toward developing poor movement patterns from the years of sitting we all do that then translate into their sport whether it be basketball or cycling. Breaking these postural movement patterns is virtually impossible using most all of the existing systems. Yoga increases flexibility and strength, weight training increases muscle strength, the Alexander Technique and Feldenkrais make us aware of poor movement patterns, but Dr. Goodman has developed the unthinkable – one single set of exercises that quickly, almost miraculously create profound muscle strength and flexibility at the same time in just the areas we are weakest and tightest from our modern lifestyle habits.
It’s what you would want to do if you were a lion, or tiger or bear and had been trapped in a zoo for your whole life but you wanted to get out in the wilds again and live in nature. We see animals in the wild with perfect musculature and a grace and power in their movements that captivate us because they never lose this innate movement sense and when we, like other animals, get trapped in our modern zoos: hunched over smart phones tapping out texts and collapsed in front of the computer to send out a few more emails – we need an anti-dote. If we learn to move according to natural patterns we become fit, lean, and gorgeous looking. Remember, how often do you see lions, tigers or bears in a gym? Well, never I guess, but how often does a wild animal like a tiger get physically active? Are they running around all day staying fit? Not really, they rest a lot and hunt occasionally, that’s the good news, in sessions of just minutes a day you can regain all that you’ve lost. It doesn’t take much time to be “naturally fit” but you do have to do exactly the right things.
Once learned, Foundation Training can then be applied to any sport or physical activity. You can lift weights, run, bicycle and jump really high and dunk a basketball better if you first learn these principles and strengthen what Dr. Goodman calls your “intuitive muscles”. Also, at their most basic level these exercises will eliminate the common pains we all live with, sore backs, painful necks, weak and tight shoulders, bad wrists or blown out knees.
These deceptively simple looking exercises provide just the right movements and positions to strengthen each individual area we are weak in, the deep postural muscles that hold us upright and determine our movement are re-activated, muscles you have not used for years will come on line and fire, nerves that have been dormant will perk up and revitalize. It’s an invigorating work out that impacts your brain and nervous system and sense of energy and wellbeing much as it reduces pain and improves performance.
After my introduction to Foundation Training I had the privilege of spending three days with private sessions with its Founder Dr. Goodman. In our first session he identified and began to correct every musculoskeletal injury I have had since age 12, many of which I neglected to tell him about because I didn’t think they were relevant. By our third session I felt like I’d been Rolfed 100 times, had been in the gym for a few months and that I’d meditated for a few weeks, all at the same time. My new confident, upright posture lead to a sharp mental acuity and sense of strength and resilience. As a natural born skeptic who has to have any new concept proven to me by my personal experience, all I can say is rush out, buy the book, get the DVD and try a few work outs using Foundation Training so you don’t miss out.
Meditators, yoga practitioners, martial artists and those into energy work will see Foundation Training as a requirement to advancing in their respective arts. As yoga masters and meditators have known for five thousand years, the spine holds the key to all these higher consciousness endeavors. Athletes will find injury prevention and vastly improved performance (think zoo based urban bear vs. wild grizzly bear) and those with chronic pain will find relief. And as profound as this work can be to get you out of pain and open up new aspects of the mind, if you just want your butt to look great in a pair of jeans or to finally flatten your abs, then Foundation Training will get the job done.