When Did You First ‘Think Movement’?


When Did You First ‘Think Movement’?

Jim Freda


What makes you “Think Movement”? What was the origin or initial situation that first made you get serious and start thinking about what your body is doing?

For me it was the combination of:
1.  Watching a little girl cross the road in front of my car who was so impacted by sedentarism at home and in school that she could barely run,
2.  My Mom’s pain and loneliness as she became old and chair bound and couldn’t live on her own any more, and
3.  My own gradual aging and intense joint pain which I was working to heal.

As I watched that girl trying to cross the road chasing after her little brother, I determined to end the system that does that to children and from there began my work, calling it No Chair Pledge.

My story:

A little boy dashed across a big busy intersection in front of my car. I didn’t want to have to get out of my car to keep him safe.

I looked over to the sidewalk and saw the mother, burdened with her own heavy body, groceries, and a stroller, wave her daughter after the little boy. The little girl hurried to help without question.

But the sweet little girl, now crossing a busy intersection alone, can barely get her awkward, prepubescent body to run.

I was so sad to see that she was so sweet and obedient helping her mom but could only try to trot awkwardly like an old lady. I felt it acutely. I had been reflecting on how painful it was for my elderly mom to sit in her uncomfortable armchair and how she was losing the ability to move. I myself had recently begun work as a massage therapist and at age 55 had my own joint issues i was working on.

I determined to do something and decided to end the system that forces children into mandatory prolonged sitting through their most important developmental years. I knew the little girl  sits all day at home as well as at school.  But I decided we can’t blame the mothers and should instead change how schools mandate prolonged sitting for the purpose of behavior control and classroom management.


From Fanny Tulloch:

It wasn’t so much one profound incident as it was an accumulation of being bored with training for bodybuilding and powerlifting in conjunction with attracting injuries. I came to a crossroads where I was choosing between training powerlifting or gymnastics on a more serious level (not competitive), a crossroads made up by my own mind. I chose to try gymnastics as I naively thought the mobility done in this type of training would “fix” all my injuries. It didn’t take long before I got new injuries and old injuries coming up to surface. Along this journey things took a very different direction, I started thinking about movements; how can the body move and how can it move in different settings such as a very safe and controlled environment vs. chaotic situations. Thinking about movements that are possible for my own body and for my students will be a journey for the rest of our lives. Not to see how much further we can go into range of motion or how skilled we can become necessarily but how we can keep moving with diversity to enjoy life fully with consideration to environment and other conditions changing, as part of going through life. This is exciting!


From Chris Ruffolo:

Being released from physical therapy after ACL surgery being unwhole and uncapable as I once was.  There was a disconnect between being told that I was ‘good’ but knowing it wasn’t enough.  I did everything I was supposed to, with the diligence of a wounded athlete who believes that these professionals knew better than I, and that doing what they said would fix me.  But it did not.  I couldn’t do ANY of the things I used to do.  I wasn’t satisfied and decided to start doing my own study on movement, particularly MY movement.  I haven’t look back or sought external guidance for any issues since, and relish in being a self-maintained organism.


From Mike DuBois:

My story starts off “on the wrong foot” if you will.  I had never heard of any of the things any of us do, I was just a knucklehead that could take all the damage, all the pain, and push through and unearth victory from the depths of hell with no concern for the crumpled shell of a man that would be left in my wake.  I was one of the last if a dying breed, tournament style fighter.

The difference between what you see on television (UFC) and tournament style fighting is, in the UFC you fight one guy, you take a few weeks or months off, go through another fight camp to fight one guy, rinse, repeat. In tournaments you could fight 3 to 7 guys in one night. You take any current champion alive and ask them to fight twice in one night and they will laugh in your face. Combat sports used to be about finding out which martial art was the most effective, and who are the toughest people. Now it’s about who sponsors who, and who has the coolest nickname (I train with this brand name gym), and it’s really turned in to a “toddlers and tiaras” type thing.  MMA is now the hip hop of combat sports. By that I mean it has gone from slick rhymes and dope beats to mumbles and weird squeaky noises I don’t even understand.
In my opinion fitness is a thing, like you have fitness, or you don’t. But it’s also a thing like a forest: it takes a lot of trees, and scrub brush, and dead leaves, and bugs, and animals to make up a forest.  So it’s a little bit complicated. I thought people were kind of “dealt a hand” and if you played your cards well, you were healthy, and if not you weren’t. I didn’t know you could manipulate the human body to do anything you want it to. I would only “work out” (lift a weight,cardio, anything athletic other than martial arts) if my MMA coach made me do it. Like do this or I am pulling you off the fight card type forcing me to do it.
My turning “point” was more of a long drawn out curve instead of a point. It took being surrounded by a different kind of coaches, a different type of athletes, a look inside, instead of an outlook on life.  There was no “Abracadabra” I like movement now, because to be perfectly honest with you, if I could plant my feet and just throw punches til one of us falls that would be my idea of a perfect fight. However, being surrounded by these new people (some of which are in this group and can verify this) changed me. I had just had ACL surgery, and moved from one corner of the U.S. to the complete opposite, and was surrounded by these weirdo people that were kinda creepy nice to each other, and we’re way to enthusiastic about coffee. That’s right, Oregon. People that made me do weird stuff like, stand in this board and hold this stick and try to squat with your hands above your head and don’t fall over this time. Yeah right!  Then it was time to work out. “Okay Mike, take this broom handle over there and hip hinge a thousand times.”  Meanwhile there is a high school girl doing Turkish get ups with a 32 kg kettlebell right beside me.  To me this was infuriating. I am a professional athlete and I am not “allowed” to touch any weights. Let’s not forget I can kick the whole room’s ass at once.  This coupled with the crippling depression that can over take an active person after surgery, was driving me deeper into my horrible hermit shell of unhealthy self hatred. I would go to the gym most days and just make myself do the dumb exercises and stupid lifts that, in my head did nothing to help me in my sport. I HATED FITNESS!!!!
So what changed?  Why do I work out voluntarily now, and with vigor, and it brings me great joy?  Well, one afternoon I was at the other gym, the fun one, where we try to hurt each other instead of stupid weight lifting, and sissy hip hinges. And one of my larger training partners was in top side half guard trying to hold me down. I simply did what I had been taught to do in this situation, got myself an under hook, sat up, posted a hand on the mat, pulled one leg out from under him and made a base on one knee then stood up. HOLY CRAP I JUST DID A TURKISH GET UP IN JIU JITSU CLASS.  That was it, that was when I knew I had to get serious about being strong. Which lead me to movement. Strength comes from control.  Having control of your emotions, your actions, your words, these are all strength. But what about physical strength, I think it comes from being in complete control of your body. And how it moves, or doesn’t.
I would like to take a moment to acknowledge, and show respect.
Christine Ruffolo changed my outlook on movement, Aaron Hague, Sam McLean, Matt Turnquist, Chris DuBois, and Corey Walsh we’re the ones who changed my mind about being strong and how it translates to being healthy.  Dr. Bailey and Dr. Mihn changed my mind on self preservation and taught me to take small steps daily to improve and maintain my ability to move and function properly.  These are the people who took me from a knuckle dragging meathead, to a somewhat functioning human being that thinks he is strong and can do anything.


From Catherine Cowey:

For myself what first made me think seriously about my body was injury and not being able to compete. My initial injuries as an adolescent was the spark that began my keen interest in the fascinating workings of our bodies. Obviously injury, illness and infirmity forces us to pay more attention on our bodies. In the wake of injury we are made hyper aware of what our body can and can’t do for us. We have to accommodate for an injury, move around it, rest it, take care and eventually hopefully learn more about how our body works and appreciate it more. For those people who have been strong and active all their lives, onset of injury may be the first time that they take stock of their body and recognize all that is needed to live their active lifestyle.
More recently I have watched children play and move around which has made me consider how we become movers or not as adults. While at the playground with my children I was struck and a little worried about the future of movement. I observed all the smalll beings clamber around and was saddened to see so many children were not able to enjoy a play structure because they could not hold themselves up or pull themselves up onto parts of the structure. A lot of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s didn’t know anyone who couldn’t climb a tree and chuckled at the adults who couldn’t move as adeptly as us kids. Recently it was myself who was climbing up the tree to grab a toy while an eleven year old sat impressed with my ability to climb the tree. We want to strive to a population where both kids and adults have the full capacity and strength that is possible out of our bodies. How we get there is a question for another day.



Have some input on your own evolution?  Drop it in the comments below.

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