1. How would you define your personal practice?
It is an ongoing experience of exploration. The inevitable side-effects are learning, unlearning and relearning, re-/de-/evolving (or perhaps just ‘volving’) in a variety of directions under the back-drop of space, time, and the underlying condition of it all: Movement. This is where I try to place myself.
With regards to my orientation, it’s more contemplative than progressive. That goes for my physical practice as well as my movement practice. They are not one and the same: although one deeply informs the other, the former describes an effort to explore and develop the physical movement potential of my body whilst the latter is a practice which informs and conducts all aspects of my life.
Behind this there is the perspective through which it is all interpreted & meaning given. This ‘movement perspective’ affects and is affected by – moves and is moved by – my practice. They cannot be disassociated (although more or less deliberate attention can be brought to it) and both are continuously in flux, in flow, changing; contingent.
2. What turning points have you encountered on your movement journey?
There are less ‘turning points’ and more of a constant stirring, but for many years I was a quintessential bodybuilder in my physical practice, despite it sitting at extreme odds with the rest of my life practice at the time (I suffered from extreme ‘domain dependence’ – apart from the 7-8 meals a day which superseded both worlds. That was not up for negotiation).
In 2012, whilst working as a ‘successful’ personal trainer in a glamorous fitness chain on the Australian east-coast, I became acquainted with a gymnasts who frequented the facility. She would circle between the fitness machines either in back-walkovers or walking on her hands. I was drawn by this freedom. I was reminded of when I was a child when walking on my hands was something I would always try in the park – I remembered being ‘quite good’ at it.
Upon attempts at inversion as an adult after almost 10-years of hypertrophy-oriented training, my wrists cracked, shoulders buckled and body crumbled to the cry of my inner child. Whatever I thought I had had might as well have been an incoherent dream. Because, at this point on the journey I had been walking mindlessly for many years, it was an impossibility.
In response to this minor trauma I began researching hand-balance work as a way into what was (at the time) a radical subject for someone living the culture of modern bodybuilding under the conditions of the 1960s iron ‘hayday’ and hyperbolic 80s actions films: bodyweight training. I started slowly, debating whether handstands should be done on shoulder day, added into core work, or whether it might require its own special day in place of HIT sessions on the elliptical trainer. Things changed slowly, but never stopped.
3. What role has injury played in cultivating your current niche?
In my current perspective injury always offers opportunity. It is an occurrence which can stimulate a great amount of reflection and learning, and as I am quite methodically about re-prehabilitation given my injury history (pretty much something in every articulation at some point in time) it allows me to explore a variety of tools & methodology which I hope can ultimately be useful to others.
Whilst I have encountered certain injuries from ‘overuse’ in past forms of physical practice, it never got to a point when injury put a complete halt to or re-directed my practice. Though following simple protocols, I took care of many basics in prehabilitation and trained with intensity, but not stupidity. In fact only when I began exploring new ranges in my body did the injuries start to appear as more complex movements revealed restrictions my body had imposed to save me from myself and the neglect of my practices.
Now when I encounter restrictions or feelings of injury when moving I hear the voice of my first bodybuilding coach when asked about incongruences in bicep size: “Rejoice! There’s more work to be done.” Injury gives a very visceral meaning to practice.
4. Do you consider yourself a teacher? Why or why not?
I share my practice and experiences and nothing more. If anyone has learnt from me in this process then I am humbled if they choose to call me ‘teacher’. It is not a title I would impose on myself (and on others to call me) as I feel it assumes that the person has learnt something of worth to them. It is also not my gaol to teach; rather, I try to facilitate a dynamic environment which offers a high potential for physical and cognitive experience. How that is interpreted by those experiencing is relative to their own practice & perspective.
5. What has been your experience with physical education, both in the schooling system and sought out knowledge/ know-how elsewhere?
Physical education (in my time anyway) was largely directed by sports. This, like many references to forms of physical movement, is a misnomer. It did not teach you about physicality and nor was the cognitive demand enough to be labelled education. It was, rather, learning to play sports.
This is all fine, apart from if you’re the type of person that doesn’t enjoy… sports. As innately finite games, sports require (for the duration of the time of play at a minimum) belief in the fiction that’s being established. Those who don’t believe simply can’t play. For those who were never ‘sporty’ and never encountered other physical disciplines they are left with two popular movement scenarios: jogging or the fitness gym. Whilst offering a physical experience, they is often very little learning education happening.
As for the rest of the knowledge in the world – what more can be said? Everything is there. This is the exploration. Ideas and inspiration can be found in books to workshops, from Netflix and Instagram. Lack of information is no longer a valid barrier for most – it is more a case of filtering and interpreting which ultimately becomes the very practice in itself.
6. How do you involve your mind/ emotions into your physical routines?
There is no ‘involvement’ process – they cannot be subtracted. At times, greater or less awareness can be given to ‘mind’ or ’emotion’, but they are always there. They come as part of being a sentient being in movement and in this there is great meaning. If there is something beyond experience, beyond mind and emotion, this is where the physicality of our bodies exists. It is where parts of bodies swell with blood, vessels protrude, tissues relax and contract, stretch and pull and push, where joints crack, click and rub, skin is scathed, liquids secrete from glands as platelets coagulate and waste products are excreted; sweat seeps shit drops piss leaks. But in the experience of this, there is always mind and emotion.
7. What are your personal aspirations regarding movement? How do you hope to find purpose and use in the skills you have built?
I am trying to explore the meaning of nothing. This is not the same as “meaninglessness”, but rather the concept of the ‘nothing’ as site of the only true freedom we can have. This freedom is to create and direct the reality we choose and it is an empowering one. Yet “with great power comes great responsibility’ – Uncle Ben, Spiderman. Sometimes this responsibility can be too overwhelming and so there are many pre-constructed frameworks of meaning that we can adopt. The frame of moving for a purpose can be an incredibly useful one, yet it is a fictive frame nonetheless. If we are not careful, we can find ourselves toiling at the same thing only to find ourselves being ruled by it.
My hope, then, is not to find purpose – to the contrary, simply to contemplate and perhaps observe the qualities of ‘purposelessness’ and the potential of de-/re-constructing frames of purpose within them. Whatever skills I have developed/intend to develop serve as the frames within which to explore purpose/meaning in its temporary form. Further, they have allowed me to explore further by developing greater potentialities on the physical level. I have no greater intentions that continuing to explore.
8. How can people find/ contact you? Do you have a site or social media handle to share?