No time for the gym

People standing waiting in a queue
Photo courtesy of Marcos Araujo

It’s hard to find the time for the things we enjoy and that we think are good for us. For many, it’s difficult finding a spare evening for the gym session, pilates or yoga class. So, wouldn’t it be amazing if we could make enjoyable and even productive use of all those frustrating time-consuming activities and events that tend to eat up big chunks of each day?

Today I was standing in a queue for almost half an hour. This would have driven me absolutely mad in my pre-Alexander days – I would have been fuming at the waste of precious time! Instead, what actually happened was that I occupied myself quite contentedly with Alexander thoughts, observations and playful little ‘experiments’, such as noticing how smooth the movement of turning to look round became with Alexander thinking, and exploring my balance going onto tiptoe. Don’t get me wrong, given the choice I’d certainly rather have been in the garden or going for a walk. And, had I been at home then, I know I would have been busy getting on with the ‘million and one things on my urgent to-do list’. No, it was simply that I was able to put all of that on one side for the time. After all, I wasn’t at home, so there was no possibility of getting on with anything other than enjoyably using the time I had in this particular queue (a way of thinking that would have previously been impossible for me).

I originally began Alexander lessons as a means of protecting my long-term health, and I do believe that I’d be in a very sorry state now if I hadn’t taken it up. However, I’ve got so much more out of the lessons, the training and the lived experience, than I ever could have expected – including the ability to make the most of any situation. To enjoy even the mundane is a balm to someone who was a very driven achiever and perfectionist.

Outside of my Alexander teaching and training, I do a lot of desk-based voluntary work so I still have my never ending ‘to-do’ list (ok, so some old habits never completely die!). However, when I’m away from the ‘coal face’ of the computer, I have a much more enjoyable time, whether that’s in queues or doing the housework. And, even at the coal face, I’m not as drawn into it all and as driven as before – though of course I am still learning and a work in progress!

A final thought, rather than dedicating a few hours a week specifically to ‘exercising’ at the gym or class, what if we were actually spending every minute of the day toning our postural muscles while we’re simply going about our everyday activities? Like any other vertebrate, our real strength lies in the postural support system that is centred around our head and spine, so it’s important that this is working as well as it can do. This is something that is seldom the case for most adults in industrialised countries but that can be substantially improved through Alexander lessons.  In other words, what if we could make doing the washing up, standing in the queue, sitting at our desk etc not only more enjoyable but also ‘good for us’? Hmm, time to book that Alexander introductory lesson……? and you too could be having fun in that queue!