A primal, practical and playful life
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.
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!