Preparing the Body and Brain to Learn


The more pliable our mental and physical foundation, the more space we will have mentally and physically for onboarding new concepts and challenges.

Here are some things you can be doing over the next few weeks as our adventure approaches, that will open up your comfort zones! They may feel silly and awkward, that is part of the prep. Just do short bits mixed throughout your day. You should feel no physical discomfort, just mildly unsettled.

Be sure to have your muscles warmed up first with activity or a hot shower, no stretching (that comes after). Do not forget to Laugh.

The Body (and brain)

  • Reverse Lunges – With your hands above your head in a prayer position (palms together), step back with your right foot and lower your right knee to where it hovers off the floor. Your left knee should not be moving forward past your left toes. Alternate. Start with a few reps and build to 15 per side. Hip flexors – Core stability – Shoulder stabilizers

    I like to layer this in for half my reps: Switch the praying hands to extended arms the way you would hold a paddle out in front of you. Now as you lower that right leg, rotate your right shoulder to your left knee (keep those arms extended).

  • Floor Twist – Sit on the floor in that perfect paddler’s posture (centered over your hips, pelvis tipped forward, shoulders back, head high and free). Now rotate to your left and place both hands on the floor about your paddling grip width apart. Chill there for a 3-4 count. Alternate. No forcing or bouncing, just smooth, positive extension. Focus on keeping your butt connected to the floor throughout the reach. Start with a few reps and build from there. Core flexibility and balance.

  • Planks – Elbows directly under shoulders, palms extended out and softly connected to the floor. Your feet will be extended out behind you and your butt should be aligned with your heels and shoulders (like a plank…haha). The head needs to be loose; let go of that tension. 5 seconds to start and see if you can build to 45 seconds. 5-10 reps. If comfortable, raise up off your elbows to your hands or fists making sure to place them directly under the shoulders. Shoulder strength and stability – Core strength.

  • Next level – Mix in some reps with your eyes closed on these. Add a Tree Pose.

Brain (and body)

  • Both hands – This is the single best thing you can do for improving your paddle sensitivity and dexterity, it is a 2 handed sport. Start teaching your other hand how to do things, period. Brushing your teeth, eating, making coffee, talking on the phone. Everything you do through the day, switch it up. Embrace the frustration and weirdness – slow down and learn it – then try to match the pace. Your head will hurt, but it gets better after the first week. You will be amazed!
  • Reverse – You guessed it, start moving around your house backwards. I like to throw in spins wherever I can in both directions. See if you can get to where 10-20% of your indoor travel, is in reverse. Do this on your walks or hikes too.

    • Eyes closed – Choose targets in relatively clear areas, walk to them a few times with your eyes open and then in reverse and sideways. Now close your eyes and see (not really, they call that a pun) how well you can do. Start with small distances and challenges and build from there. Counting steps is counterproductive. The idea is to be completely present and have ALL of your senses engaged and a part of your trust. Practice walking up to trees and walls to find out how close you can get without touching them. This is WAY more fun when you do not cheat.

  • Time management – Pick a target or task and visualize yourself getting there or completing it. Visualize it again and time the process during the visualization. Now go do it and time your live action. Our goal is to have these two times be close. Keep the challenges simple to begin and escalate from your success. Eyes closed and reverse are nice touches to up the level.

These things do not need to be burdensome, in fact I think with humility, you will find them to be just the opposite.

I remember learning once that “every part of our life can be a dance”. I would think about that when I was filling ice buckets at the bar I worked for in Jackson, Wy. back in the day. It was the least, best part of the job, the most, best part was the season pass. I would challenge myself to be as efficient as possible with how many scoops to fill the bucket. Balancing speed and load over spillage. Then try with my eyes closed.

When we fill our life with the dance, we live life full.

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