Dr. Kwame Brown on Neuroscience and Kids Fitness

posted in: Miscellaneous, Uncategorized | 2

My former colleague, Dr. Kwame Brown, is a neuroscientist, children and youth fitness specialist, and one of the directors of the International Youth Conditioning Association. He offers an excellent presentation on his own brand of Human Development at the Exuberant Animal Spring Trainer’s Workshop 2009, on Whidbey Island, WA.

Lot’s of good information in here…

Human Development: Kids and sports from Lauren Muney on Vimeo.

What do you think… Could adults use a little more creativity, curiosity, imagination, and play?

To your health and success,

Fitness Professional

P.S. apologies for the inconsistency with the blog lately. I’ve been struggling to stay afloat!

2 Responses

  1. There’s no true difference between “adults” and “children,” other than cultural limits we place on either one (both have to “behave,” but in different ways at different times).

    We continue to grow, adapt, learn, develop, and improve as long as we challenge ourselves. My favorite method of challenge is the playful method. It reduces stress/tension/fear associated with trying new things, or being in unfamiliar environments, or interacting with unknowns…

    CST shares that concept, right John? If I remember, IntuFlow’s subtitle is “freedom from fear/reactivity” correct?

  2. Hi Josh,

    Yes, there is an element of fun inter-woven into CST and Intu-Flow specifically, but it is also balanced out with diligent and sometimes difficult work that I wouldn’t exactly call playful.

    I think the best education always starts with playful exploration – even games. As the student progresses, the element of fun is still maintained while “real life” demands of stress are slowly introduced. As adults, we understand that not all of life is playful bliss, and we will be required to perform under any number of stressful circumstances – physical, mental, social, etc. It’s important to train for this because fine motor skills diminish greatly when performed in unfamiliar high stress situations.

    We see this evidenced when new military recruits have trouble tying their shoes while they’re exposed to guns going off around them. No doubt, every recruit KNOWS how to tie their shoes, and have quite literally mastered that simple skill for at least 15-20 years. We’re talking decades of practice. Yet, when placed in a high stress situation (relative to their experience with stress), their skills and experience goes out the window and they just can’t get the loops right.

    Just as Dr. Brown said above, learning a brand new skill in a stressful environment will not help anyone retain skills. Any new skill – movement or other, is best first learned in a “safe” environment, protected from stress. After a student can perform X skill perfectly without any stress, that’s when mild stress can and should be introduced. This not only helps with skill acquisition, it also helps prepare someone mentally for future challenges.

    So, what does this look like with an athlete or fitness trainee?

    Let’s say we’re teaching a middle aged man how to front jab properly.

    First, teach the biomechanics of the movement (leg drive, hip snap, shoulder pack, etc.). Then have them practice the strike without restrictions (shadowboxing). Then introduce a target (hand pad). Then add weight to that target (heavy bag). Then add movement to that target (speed bag and eventually sparring partner). Then have the sparring partner fight back. Then spar outside of the gym with other people watching (new environment, social pressure to perform – this is a BIG JUMP in stress for many people). Then practice in “real life” environments (even if only simulated) – the living room, on stairs, in a hallway, etc.

    It’s up to the coach to determine how much stress can be introduced to continue making progress without reverting back to poor performance. All training must be a balance of fun and work. If we can have fun getting the work done, then all the better, right? It’s easy to make a game out of the above drills, but sometimes games aren’t enough to prepare us for life’s demands. That’s when competition is needed for further preparation and progress. Facing a fully resistant opponent (whether human or not) is the ultimate test of skills and conditioning.

    Fear-reactivity is a whole other issue entirely. In a nutshell, it refers to a physiologically conditioned reaction to stress or trauma. For more info about it, I recommend Sonnon’s books BodyFlow and Prasara Yoga.
    Prasara Yoga Book

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