ORIGINS - A Human Movement Project

ORIGINS is an open source platform that provides movement ideas and strategies to create well-rounded human movers.


ORIGINS is a project dedicated to providing movement education that an individual can easily plug into their existing fitness program. It is meant to help bring movement back to its grassroots and also demystify and expose other movement practices.

The pendulum used in the logo is intended to represent a person' capacity. That capacity can be knowledge, movement library, mobility, motor control, etc. The bigger the body of knowledge (physically, mentally, emotionally) the bigger the swing of the pendulum. The bigger the swing of the pendulum, the more capacity an individual has and the more creative space to explore.

Intro to ORIGINS

ORIGINS - Week 1 - Spinal Waves

Your spine is meant to move like water, not like a cinder block. Experience a simple strategy to improve spinal control in a rhythmical approach.

ORIGINS - Week 2 - Single Limb Balance

Balance work tends to get the short-end of the stick during high-intensity workouts. However, realizing where your body is at in space is critical in all aspects of life. We are not concerned whether or not you can balance, but rather what is your body's response when you lose balance. Also, when you are working out and moving fast or lifting heavy weights, it is the small micro-movements that can make a huge difference in your success of that task. This week's challenge comes in 3 parts:

  1. Do you have the ability to just balance on one leg with your eyes closed?
  2. Perform a movement with your eyes closed and see how closely it matches to when you perform it with your eyes open.
  3. Get your heart rate up using a basic Tabata style approach and then assess how it impacts your ability to balance on a single leg with eyes closed.

ORIGINS - Week 3 - Rotational Squats

How many times have you had someone tell you the way you squat is incorrect? The truth, there is no one correct way to squat. Squatting is just a method of lowering your center of gravity lower to the ground and then back up.

Yes, depending on your goal or task there may be a more efficient way. But that does not mean the method you are choosing is incorrect or going to hurt you. Having a big Rolodex of strategies when you squat only improves your capacity to react to a situation.

This week’s mission is to introduce the transverse plane into your squat by adding in some rotation. I have used this many times as a warmup in a class environment. Be creative; there is no correct way of performing this movement; there are just strategies.

How many different strategies do you have? The more you have, the bigger your pendulum swing which leads to an increase in capacity.

ORIGINS - Week 4 - Plank Wars

Fitness gets too serious. Sometimes we just need to let loose and have some fun. The same goes for spinal positioning. Experts keep saying all the time that the spine must remain neutral when moving. Come on?! Why would we have the ability to flex, extend, rotation our spine if we were not meant to move it that way? The spine should be able to move through any of its available ranges during any movement, loaded or unloaded.

This week's mission is about not worrying if your spine is correctly locked out neutral during a plank. This week is about how can your spine change shapes and respond when you are reacting to an external stressor.

A healthy spine is one that can be neutral, flex, extend, and rotate during any movement. Whether or not you choose to load a movement in different spinal shapes is always a hot topic. But first, let's just play with allowing your spine be free. Let's also see if you are willing to get silly with your fitness. Or are you too cool to have fun?

ORIGINS - Week 5 - Partner Compression

The simple notion of moving your joints through full range of motion seems easy. But there seems to be a pretty big gap between your bodies ability to show a range of motion and for you actually to have the active control of that range of motion. Just because you can squat well, doesn't always mean you can bring your knee up to your chest.

This week's mission is all about showing active control of a shape but doing it entertainingly. Just standing around lifting your knee up to your chest and holding it may work to improve your control, but it is such a boring activity. I get very agitated when people say there is only one way to move your joints or that if you don't have full range, you are going to hurt yourself. Come on, how many people have full range of motion in every single one of their joints? The reality is we can try to work hard on improving our shapes, but it will take time. In the meantime, use what you have and have a lot of fun with it, or else fitness becomes boring as hell.

So this week, find a partner grab a seat and try to play a little game of tug of war with your legs. I am really excited to see how this goes for everyone!

ORIGINS - Week 6 - Toe Squat

We are exploring movement out of most people comfort zone. For the longest time, we have been told not to let our knees go over our toes or to use your “posterior chain.” The reality is that we have ranges of motion in our body because we are meant to use them in many different ways. There is nothing wrong with any variation of squat - there is an acknowledgment that pertains squats are more beneficial depending on the task at hand. And that is the key - understand your purpose. If your goal is to have well complete control of your body then introducing movement that is much heavier on the toe side is a must.

You might feel quite a bit of pressure on your knees, and that is because your body does not have the structural integrity to hold/move through that position…yet. You don’t have to go crazy with the volume here; the goal is to introduce your body, better yet have your body introduce you, to positions that are consistently ignored. I bet when you were a kid your knees flew all over the place when you moved. It is time to start improving your capacity so you can reclaim some of your youth.

ORIGINS - Week 7 - Toe Touch

The Toe Touch challenge is a straightforward concept but an exhaustingly fun problem to solve. The idea is simple. Your partner tries to touch your toes, and you try to avoid getting touched. When we think about fitness, we get very linear in our thinking. You can only squat this way. You should just run with your feet landing this way. You can only do a handstand in a straight line, and anything else is going to hurt you. This kind of thinking lacks practical application.

Try to go out and play the Toe Touch game in an open field and see if your body cares which way your knees bend or which way you land on your feet when your sole goal is not to get touched on your feet. If we broaden our thinking and realize that our bodies work in many ways, then we will recognize that there are many ways to move. Sure certain positions may be more compromising for you. That is probably a sign that you have not explored those ranges and may have some deficits that you can improve upon in your fitness program. Give it a shot and let me know your thoughts.

ORIGINS - Week 8 - Behind Back Pistol

Way too often we look at a movement and think it is beyond our capacity. The reality is that if you break down the movement to its components, you will notice that you can develop simple progressions to make the complicated look simple.

Take the behind the back pistol as an example. All over social media people post images of themselves doing this shape, and the vast majority of us think it is way too hard for us to accomplish. However, the movement is a single leg squat, simple as that. And if you don't have single leg squat, well then there are a ton of ways you can develop that strength too.

From there it is all about putting yourself into a progression that is challenging but doable so you can get enough volume to make the appropriate adaptations.

Sure there are other aspects of mobility and strength you can work on, but the best movement to make the behind the back pistol more doable is doing more behind the back pistols. The goal of this video is not to make it so you can be sexy on social media, but that you can make the impossible possible.

ORIGINS - Week 9 - Precision Jump

Far too often jumping is not thought of as a skillful exercise. Classically when people think about jumping, it is usually considered in the context of a sport where jumping as high as you can is the focus. In high-intensity workouts, the amount of reps is the most significant consideration. It is rare when precision is the primary focus of jumping. The ability to jump for distance and land on a specific target is a very challenging but practical task.

This task is straightforward - how far can you jump but stick the landing to a particular spot. Be conservative at first, especially if you are new to jumping. Keep volume low as the goal is to work on a skill and not destroy yourself with volume. Precision jumping has much more real-life application then just jumping for volume, height or even distance - so give it a shot and let us know your thoughts.

ORIGINS - Week 10 - PVC Pipe Walk

Back to more balance work. This week’s mission is slightly different than previous. Again the focus here is not to maintain balance and to never get thrown off. If that happens, then the good for you, but the challenge is not challenging enough.

The goal is to understand how your body responds when you get thrown off balance and whether or not you have the ability to regain your position. I have used this a lot with my clients/classes, and it has helped tremendously in more ways than you expect.

Try this before your next heavy lifting day or before your next long run. Waking up the brain and the body to respond to quick changes of position or environment can be the missing piece for you to hit a new all times best lift or prevent an injury from occurring.

This week - throw down a bunch of extended thin objects (PVC pipes is what I used) and see if you can navigate the terrain by walking on the objects trying to keep your feet as parallel as possible. Have fun!

ORIGINS - Week 11 - Quick Feet

Lateral movement is such an essential component of a healthy body. For some reason, once we get inside the gym, we tend to put this movement pattern on the back burner. I am not sure if that is because of the space requirement or it is not "sexy" enough or doesn't get you "swole."

The ability to make quick decisions and move laterally is in almost every sport and real-life situations, yet we don't believe it is worth training. As much as we like to think squatting will protect our knees when we lose balance and take a fall while doing something like chasing after our kids or skiing on the slope, remembering that you can pattern your brain to be ready for those situations is critical.

A basic law of neuroplasticity is "use it or lose it." Whether you have an athletic background or not does not dictate the relevance of working this skill. Being human does.

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