Inside My DNA

Coach Will here, welcoming you to your Wednesday!

And I need to talk about why movement, fitness, (cue the voice of your worst PE coach memory) “exercise” is--after all is said and done--pure magic to me.

See, with the movement-DNA link recently in the news again, I found myself navel-gazing again.

That DNA is incredible ‘innit*? Basically a tiny folded up building manual for your whole being, reproduced (almost) perfectly in every single one of your cells. For your whole life.

Look at your arm for a moment. Notice the layers apparent to you.

See your arm hair, and how it rises out of your skin. Notice any visible freckles, or spots, or veins.

And realize that beyond what you can see, you can feel much more--heat, pressure, stiffness, ache, firmness/softness of the various tissue.

But now squeeze your fist.

Notice how the tissue jolts into incredible, controlled action. Bones remain sturdy while layers of muscle and sinew slide seamlessly along each other, stretching skin in barely-detectable spirals of tension.

From a single, simple thought (“squeeze fist”), a coherent response (movement) seems to spontaneously emerge.

That dense tangle of tissue, so coherently but unconsciously organized, was written by our DNA.

But there’s more. Like the NYTimes reported--but many others (actual coaches/teachers) have been talking about for a long time**--the intent to move, and therefore our reliance on movement, are also written into our DNA.

Finally, combine this with the old, trusty standby of any strength coach worth their iron--the SAID principle (which says that a Specific Adaptation is the result of the specific Imposed Demand--SAID)--and you have a breathtaking feedback loop.

An organic algorithm.

The combination of (1.) resilient, change-able tissue, (2.) a drive to move that tissue, and (3.) an observed principle that describes how movement changes that tissue creates a poised and balanced system: our body.

So the DNA recipe said something like this: Produce cells. Organize according to some basic rules. Start moving.

And that’s all, because the recipe could then assume that the moving does the magic of form-fitting us to our lives. Movement literally forms tissue into a specific use-purpose, based on the specific demands of that movement. After all, “Force is the language of our cells.”***

But without movement, we are left with a bunch of tissue that is missing some major guidance as to what it should become. Sure, elbow tissue is the stuff that grows from your elbow; but it only know how to be a part of your arm (and your life) if you teach it, inform it, apply force through it, which is all just to say: use it.

So look at your arm again. Look at it with an internal lens, combining your visual, sensational, and imaginary capacities to form a mental model of all the layers, and all the dimensions of scale (muscle, fiber, cell, nucleus, proteins, atoms…).

Observe your DNA.

And realize that you can, and do, talk to it the very moment you begin to move.

What do you want to say?

To your gold,

Coach Will

*Also, an incredible, powerful piece of pop-artwork

**Dre Spina (FRC), Katy Bowman (Move Your DNA), Kathy Sierra (Intrinzen), Dan John, Paval Tsatsouline (StrongFirst), and a million more etc. etc.

***MORE Dre Spina :).