A primal, practical and playful life

September 25, 2009 at 4:52 am 3 comments

Play As If Your Life Depends on It is Frank Forencich’s manifesto about the benefits — nay, the necessity — of re-integrating play into our daily lives.

The book, while an important meditation on physical movement and a call to action, may be hard to track down. Fortunately, back when PAIYLDOI was self-published in 2003, ABC News published an excerpt that introduced Frank’s “[three] principals for building an effective and enjoyable physical fitness program”:

After two decades of study, struggle and experimentation I’ve come to the conclusion that what we need is a paradigm for human fitness that meets a few simple conditions: it’s got to have some relevance to human origins, it’s got to speak to the functional performance of the human body and it’s got to be fun. In other words, we need a paradigm for exercise and fitness that’s primal, practical and playful.

The entire excerpt can be found here; Frank’s companion blog, complete with videos of various movement games, can be found at http://goanimal.typepad.com http://blog.exuberantanimal.com.

Exuberant Animal also has a collection of functional fitness games to tap into your inner animal.

Below is a great video of Frank giving a presentation titled, “A Body Centered Curriculum: The Primate’s Predicament.” One of my favorite parts of his presentation is the observation that health professionals are required to provide a warning that says, “Before beginning an exercise program, see your doctor” — an announcement that suggests vigorous physical activity is somehow outside the norms of modern human living.

Frank suggests an amendment to the current label, such that it reads: “Before you begin a program of physical inactivity, consult your physician.” According to the Archives of Internal Medicine, there are 300,000 premature deaths due to inactivity and poor diet every year (!); thus, the standard announcement should warn us that “Physical inactivity is abnormal and dangerous to your health.”

The crisis is more about our physical health, however; it’s an epidemic of lost physicality — of the fact that we no longer use and experience our bodies in any meaningful way. Despite “the mismatch between physiology and the modern world,” Frank’s message is hopeful and prescriptive, reminding us that our bodies are designed to help us engage in exuberant, playful, physical experiences. We simply need to go primal!


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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jleeger  |  September 25, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Great review JR!

  • 2. Lauren  |  September 25, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    Thanks, JR, for this shout-out! I didn’t even realize that the GoAnimal blog was still accessible; that’s how I found Frank’s work initially, I think: his essays and his blog. The real blog is up at http://blog.exuberantanimal.com/

    I think Frank is off ‘playing’ with Erwan LeCorre of “MovNat” (who is in Seattle giving a seminar) right now, or else he’d be thinking you himself…

  • 3. J.R. Atwood  |  September 26, 2009 at 4:34 am

    Thanks for updated link, Lauren. Looking forward to meeting you at the EA Jam!


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Jason R. Atwood

I'm an avid trail runner and doctoral student at U.C. Berkeley who studies motivation and the relationship between the mind and body. This blog is a forum to share research, news, and musings about these topics of interest. More

Play is the beginning of knowledge.

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