The Art of Adaptability:

The Art of Adaptability:- is a turn of phrase I use to define fitness training, based on Darwin’s philosophy of natural selection.  A quote by Leon C. Megginson in 1963 that paraphrases Darwin’s concept of natural selection has often been used to promote the concept of fitness (or similar type past-times). However, the phrase has more often than not been whittled down to “the strongest survive”. I believe that this limits the wisdom bound succinctly within the quote. The paraphrased quote is as follows;

“In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment, (Leon C. Megginson, 1963).”

Fitness training in my opinion enhances a person’s synergistic physical and emotional strength.  The act of pushing yourself outside your comfort zone allows a person to grow.  Consider the concept that from the cradle to the grave our lives are memories of a string of events, would you prefer memories full of knowledge and experience or a list of items you have bought that gather dust on the shelf?

Is it better for us to obtain the prize by taking the short cut of wonder drugs and magic beans?  Or if we take the long route, what will we discover on the journey whilst we reach for the destination where the prize rests?

The Art of Adaptability refers to more than physical aesthetics; it is the goal of persistent prime performance.  One of the tools, which I use to assist clients, is the principle of the Target-Training Zone (T.T.Z.).  The T.T.Z. refers to the physical state of being breathless and able to speak.  This is a very important part of the training concepts.  This is where most folks are outside of their comfort zone and this is where the most benefit may be obtained. Our physiology becomes very interesting when we reach T.T.Z. This physical state I am referring to is that of our anaerobic threshold.  The anaerobic threshold has commonalities with a memory that hardwire our habitual responses to daily life.

Here’s what happens, and here is why it is very important to be in a positive frame of mind when exercising.

When we are breathless and able to speak our heart is racing.  We are in an altered physical state – Excited; for good or for worse, excited nonetheless.

This means that our body is awash with adrenaline that happens to be a memory fixer.  Unfortunately, this means we are susceptible to our perceptions that can often associate or be anchored in with the task we are performing.

Ignorance can be a dangerous thing. Without this understanding, we may sabotage our attempt at a beneficial lifestyle.

Below are two snippets of articles on the subject:

Emotion has powerful influences on learning and memory that involve multiple brain systems engaged at different stages of information processing. Studies of declarative emotional memory show how frontotemporal brain regions act conjointly to promote the retention of emotionally arousing events and retrieve them from long-term stores. Memory-enhancing effects of emotional arousal involve interactions between subcortical and cortical structures and engagement of central and peripheral neurohormonal systems that are coordinated by the amygdala. The memory boost conferred by arousal seems to engage similar brain systems across positive and negative valence. (LaBar, K. S., & Cabeza, R.)

Exercise activates the locus coeruleus and increases brain norepinephrine release, we hypothesized that post-trial exercise could function as a natural stimulus to enhance memory consolidation. We investigated this in amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) and cognitively normal elderly individuals by examining the effects of an acute bout of post-learning, aerobic exercise (6 minutes at 70% VO2 max on a stationary bicycle) on memory for some emotional images. Exercise significantly elevated endogenous norepinephrine (measured via the biomarker, salivary alpha-amylase) in both aMCI patients and controls. Additionally, exercise retrogradely enhanced memory in both aMCI patients and controls. Acute exercise that activates the noradrenergic system may serve as a beneficial, natural, and practical therapeutic intervention for cognitive decline in the aging population, (Segal, S. K., Cotman, C. W., & Cahill, L. F.).


LaBar, K. S., & Cabeza, R. (2006). Cognitive neuroscience of emotional memory. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 7(1), 54-64.

Segal, S. K., Cotman, C. W., & Cahill, L. F. (2012). Exercise-induced noradrenergic activation enhances memory consolidation in both normal aging and patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 32(4), 1011-1018.

This leads me to the next section of the concept tailored for

A beneficial lifestyle by embracing escapism.

Evoke memory – A memory that is manufactured by the participant to elicit the desired response.

Aspect Avatar – a persona manufactured by the participants to challenge their own concept of reality and develop their beneficial personal traits.

By embracing the concept of escapism, to imagine, to dream allows a person to believe that “What if?” can become “I am”.  When we imagine we have the possibility to change how we feel about a situation.  We change our perception of reality and our physiology follows suit.

In each of us, we can find an “Aspect” of our personality that resonates with the way that we perceive our reality or situation.   Somewhen in our mental development, we associated self-limiting or self-liberating behavior with certain situations.

If we were to concentrate on the aspect that allows us to develop a self-liberated approach to our goals we have a better chance of staying the course.

If we create an Avatar to represent this “Aspect” and give it a name, dress it up, give it a history, an identity we can slip into.  We can call forward that powerful Avatar/Identity when we need extra motivation.

For example, the following scenario may have been experienced by many of us at one time or another:

You have a plan organized, a time to start a fitness program with friends, or perhaps a regular workout date looms later on in the day and you do not wish to start or take part for one reason or another.  At this point to overcome your disingenuous inner voice you would call forth your Aspect Avatar with all the positive attributes you have installed in him/her and allow them to motivate you instead.

When creating your Aspect Avatar for fitness training, stay positive, and choose a character that you believe has attributes that will assist you to complete your training.

To make the Aspect Avatar a much more ingrained trait you will have to focus on the personality that you have created whilst completing the exercise prescription. The task may also be associated with other evoke memories but that is up to you and what you contemplate whilst you train. Remember that you have to be in your target-training zone, be breathless, and able to converse.  Your body will be awash with the adrenaline and its use as a memory fixer.  Eventually, your Aspect Avatar will associate with the task and allow you to ride along.

This concept is simple and like many simple things often overlooked.  I will leave you with a question.  Have you ever noticed in a training environment that the most successful students mimic the instructor’s attributes?  Your Aspect Avatars attributes or characteristics are part of your own personality; we are just promoting them to the fore and assisting in developing a self-liberating emotional state.

Embrace escapism:

What inspires?  What motivates? Fear?  Well yes, that makes folks move pretty quickly, but then it can also paralyze and inspire people to hide.

Desire on the other hand inspires people to move and to engage.  It is possible to say that folks are attracted to something different from the norm and there are many reasons for this. However, this encourages people to look to the horizon and ask, “I wonder what’s beyond?”

By dreaming of other possibilities we are inspired, we move and on that journey, we develop skills and grow.  When we tell others of our discovery, and as the story unfolds it inspires like-minded individuals.  Furthermore, people will associate with certain specifics of the story that resonates with their own previous experiences.

Anecdotes, fables, sermons all motivate people; they may be real or fictional to elicit a response.  Either actual or perceived, the effect on the physiology of the listener – if fully engaged – is the same, the person becomes emotionally engaged.

If this concept is taken further and we amalgamate principles of fitness conditioning with inspirational stories we have a greater chance of success. If we desire attributes that we associate with the characters in a story we can challenge ourselves to emulate our heroes and stay the course.

Moving forward whilst reflecting on the past

Perhaps the thought of retrospection does not hold all the answers.  To be sure there are many signposts for one to read where past mistakes may have been avoided by simply taking another route.

The saying goes “hindsight is perfect vision”, this equates to – mistakes will still be made, hopefully not the same ones.  There are many examples of errors being remade in fitness, which is surprising for me. I don’t like to waste time and I presume that others are like-minded.   As creatures of habit, it behooves us to seek beneficial ones.

Principles to define a beneficial lifestyle:

  • The only constant is change
  • Adaptability is fitness
  • All body mechanics are similar only the intent defines the outcome
  • Perception is reality and reality is Perception

Without being too dramatic or to cryptic explore the above principles and in doing so you will learn more about the way you work.  I find that self-discovery has a higher degree of inertia for that first step on the path of a beneficial lifestyle.

Halloween Special – Motivation in Fitness.

Since it is the season of scary, I thought it would be nice to share information about how Zombie Apocalypse Survivor (Z.A.S.) movies are a great metaphor and possible motivation for introspection and lifestyle. I realize that this may be a tenuous link, but bear with me, the survivors in these movies need to be very adaptable to their environment. The Z.A.S. needs to keep their eye on the prize, live in the now, have good cardio, strength, body mechanics, and last but not least, hand-eye coordination. The question that arises from this list is “How do we obtain these attributes?”

Well, the first thing is that we need to acknowledge is change. Most folks understand the need to change and are partially motivated until it comes to the crunch. They decide not to follow their initial desire to change. To obtain the desired attributes a person needs motivation and must dig deep within themselves to fully appreciate all the ramifications as they take their first step towards their desired prize and lifestyle change.

The Z.A.S. needs no motivation other than that of not appearing on a menu. For us regular folk we need to cultivate motivation to aid in our success, which may be as simple as recognizing our needs as opposed to our wants. The principles of the Z.A.S. may assist us in this task.

The essentials, what you need rather than what you want.

Set goals to achieve your prize

Remain Focused on your prize

Cultivate an interest in many activities (you may need to know how to bungee jump from a helicopter whilst snowboarding – hypothetical Zombie Apocalypse – anything is possible)

I hope this assists you over the season of scary, Happy Halloween folks.

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