Conscious Movement vs Mindless Exercise?

January 16, 2009 – 3:50 am America chronic pain is a growing epidemic.  4 in 10 adults say they experience physical pain every day, and nearly all Americans (89 percent) say they experience pain month in and month out.  With 80% of Americans believing their aches and pains are “just part of getting older” and another 28% thinking there is no solution – why isn’t this problem being solved?

It’s a problem of growing in simplicity. The nervous system craves complexity, and aging is a process of losing that complexity. As we age, we take less risks, try fewer new tasks, and attempt an ever-diminishing pool of skills. As we do less, we become less.

In the past year, an estimated 36 million Americans missed work due to pain, according to a recently released Gallup survey.  Add to this the fact that 4 in 10 adults say they experience pain every day, and nearly all Americans (89 percent) say they experience pain each month.  What do they believe causes this?  Sadly, eighty percent of Americans believe their aches and pains are “just part of getting older” with a further 28 percent who believe there is no solution to their pain.  With so many different methods and medications to treat these aches and pains, why is there no end in sight for the growing number of people suffering in our country?

Having returned to my home from a long tour teaching in New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles, I’ve been scouring my fastidious notes on the remarks from members, instructors and observers. One of the most common elements in exposure to my Circular Strength Training Group X class regarded the belief that people lead stressful lives so when they exercise they no longer want to think. People said they believed that people want mindless motions where they aren’t required to concentrate in order to have a reprieve from their dogged mental gymnastics throughout the day: kids, work, the economy, food, pressure, pressure, pressure…

My response to this derives from advocating a paradigm shift for 20 years, and since it behooves you as my reader to share with others what has brought such success and vibrance to your life, I’m going to share with you what has been highly successful for my company, and in leveraging the “late majority” into waking their slumbering consciousness.

Mindlessness isn’t what the people want; it’s what they get. For so many years, we in the West have held sharp contrast between mind-body unity… for many evolutionarily relevant cultural contexts. But we’ve come to a point in our history in the West that in order to progress, we need to shift our paradigm. We can no longer survive mentally and emotionally, much less physically (considering the amplitude of stress related illnesses and diseases) to compartmentalize our lives.

Instead of competing with this concept of mindlessness, we should wear it as a badge of honor. As opposed to the conventional mindless robotic gerbil wheels most people are unjustifiably subjected to, we offer the ever-increasing focus and deepening concentration skills of mindfulness. The physical dangers of repetitive stress syndrome associated with non-mindful movement can only be combated by the true stress freedom which only conscious movement delivers…

Great instructors ALL teach conscious movement. The ability to draw “in-sight” to what’s actually happening within the member is what separates the greats from the lack-luster automatons who stand in front of class barking orders off a script memorized by rote. To call attention to the internal experience of physical exercise, especially in the much more challenging sphere of group fitness (compared to one-on-one personal training), is the sign of not only a great teacher, but more importantly of a great environment for personal transformation to occur. No teacher can make a student improve, s/he can only foster the optimal environment for that transformation to erupt within the individual, through the teacher’s infectious energy, excellence and education. But my focus is on creating great teachers, and looking with pride at my CST Staff, I’m doing just that.

From a scientific standpoint (in psychophysiology, my background in Russia), stress relief can only be achieved by yoking or anchoring the fickle, prancing mind in one place. We do this in Conscious Movement through rotating among three tools: the breath, the structural alignment of the technique, and the movement components. we’re a progress-oriented collection of cultures, seated meditation is something that takes us decades to evolve towards (as opposed to the East, where intense self-effort is the challenge since they’re a centeredness-oriented collection of cultures.) The East is the Bulls-eye and the West is the Arrow… both are necessary. However, in the West, focusing on “moving meditation” or “Conscious Movement” is what allows us to receive not only 100% of the fitness benefits of exercise (strength, cardio, flexibility, agility, coordination, endurance, lean muscle mass, fat burn, etc) but also the mental and emotional HEALTH benefits of our exercise… and in a socio-economic time of the highest stress imaginable, “health-first fitness” is the ONLY choice our members will accept.

Mindful exercise… Conscious Movement is what all people have always craved… They just haven’t been able to articulate it until now. Now, they get what they want (a beautiful physique) and what they need (healthy, pain-free, stress-free longevity.)

 Help Your Friends and Family Awaken from the Slumber of Mindless, Robotic Exercise with:

Flow Thyself™,

  1. 5 Responses to “Conscious Movement vs Mindless Exercise?”

  2. Timely article Coach. I’m surrounded by twenty year old fitness buffs and many if not most of them have aches and pains, and I’m talking TWENTY-THIRTY YEARS OLD! Those who’ve I shared CST with, especially IntuFlow, I can see the light bulbs come on in their ‘mindless’ heads.

    By Kevin Dougherty on Jan 16, 2009

  3. Hi again Coach Sonnon,

    Guilty as charged! I’ll have to admit to being one of those who just wanted to tune it all out and just workout. Needless to say, I remained racked with niggling aches and pains. I’ll have to credit Coach Steer for giving me the virtual slap upside the head to actually listen to (and more importantly apply) what you and your staff have to say. Guess what? I am now experiencing more and better freedom of movement. I can’t thank you enough.


    By Keith Koger on Jan 16, 2009

  4. I purchased your Flow-Fit and Intu-Flow DVD’s about two weeks ago and I’m already feeling as if they are helping my mobility with only 15 minutes or so of practice a day. Great programs!

    By Dean on Jan 16, 2009

  5. Dear Scott,

    Truer words have seldom been spoken. I have worked some eight years in the fitness industry. Having studied martial arts, yoga and fitness side by side, I was always trying to move and think at the same time. Well not always, because in martial arts you want to block automatically, because otherwise you are to slow and get punched in the nose.

    When I started work at a commercial gym, all I saw was people walking on treadmills, staring at a tv screen. I was amazed. If they did weight training it was on machines and they had that same farway look, they would go throught the motions with there mind being elsewhere.

    When I started teaching group classes I would explain why and how people should move. And some people would walk out of my class. They would actually tell me that they “just wanted to work out”, they wanted to move and not to think.

    Luckily other people would stay and told me they finally understood why they did a certain movement. So I guess some people just weren’t ready for this, or were conditioned by colleagues of mine into becoming robotic.

    It’s nice to hear (well actually read) someone else eloquently voicing my own ideas.

    Still the majority of people I see at commercial gyms just go through the motions. In group classes you do see interaction, at least with the good instructors, they try to get a reaction from the people in their classes. And people like this.

    Typing this brings out another idea. Have you heard of total physical response? I quit working at a gym and I work as an English teacher now. I am Dutch and I teach English as a second language. And there is something called total physical response, that I heard of recently.

    Supposedly when you learn vocabulary, you should move your body as this stimulates your brains into better remembering the words. You could mimic the words while you read them.

    Obviously in a class filled with children this brings out some practical problems. But I want to keep a positive attitude and look at the possibilities instead of the problems.

    Since you were or are dyslexic and are an accomplished athlete I would like to know your opinion on this subject.

    Maybe you could post something on your website.
    Or maybe you already have and I just didn’t read it.

    kind regards,


    By Pim on Jan 17, 2009

  6. Dan, Keith and Kevin, congrats on your progress mates!

    Pim, yes, I’m familiar with the “total physical response” effect. It’s how I learned language and mathematics!

    Keep true to yourself, as the industry and culture of movement is changing, my friend.

    Flow Thyself™,

    By Scott Sonnon on Jan 17, 2009

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