Action bias: Are fitness and Pilates systems guilty?

Chris Hunt Pilates BarcelonaAction bias: Are fitness and Pilates systems guilty?

It has been a rainy day in Barcelona, so not much fitness training going on outside but lots of time to read. I read a lot, but I am of the opinion that we cannot read too much. I also like to think alot, and to apply principles of life and science to exercise and fitness.

Action bias is an interesting subject. The more I see “new” systems of exercise and Pilates, the more I think that people are falling into the action bias trap.

So what exactly is action bias? It basically means look active even if it achieves nothing. Move even when not moving makes more sense. Do something, anything, even if it makes things worse. Goalkeepers when facing a penalty suffer from it. Even doctors can be guilty because there is a human tendency to want to do anything but be still and wait.

Maybe we can trace this back to our hunter-gatherer ancestors who quickly learnt that to move was a better way of staying alive than staying put. But in this day and age, even though we value contemplation more, we can still view total inaction as a cardinal sin. But whilst society at large may still prefer rash action to a sensible wait-and-see strategy, how can we apply this to fitness?

In my system Pilates EVO, I make sure that there are regular pauses. I see these as vital, a time to receive, to understand, stillness to gain appreciation and understanding. This is prevalent in Kundalini as well. I like the definition of meditation that concentrates on the gap in between thoughts. Inaction that in my opinion at the right time can bring far more benefits than constant movement. People say to me that Pilates is about movement. But what about awareness? If we are always moving our level of awareness can be negatively effected.

Whilst I cannot see Les Mills introducing stillness into bodyPUMP anytime soon, as a Pilates teacher I see it as an important part of my teaching, and when I am in the gym in between sets I stop and bring my awareness inside my body, especially the body part I was just exercising. When I am training people here in Barcelona even in the total action sports including surfing, mountain biking and snowboarding, stopping and inaction are important parts of the experience and learning process.

I am interested to hear about your opinion on this subject. Do you like to keep people moving or do you have a different take?

I think that Welsh Poet W H Davies had a point in his appropriately entitled poem “Leisure” in 1911 when he said:

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Chris is an international Pilates and functional training presenter and educator based in Barcelona, Spain. He is the creator of Pilates EVO©, bodyFUNC©, and CEO of Pilates Rehab Limited and Sport Core Strength.  He also organises Pilates Carnival and Fitness Carnival, conventions where all profits go to local children’s charities. He organises fitness holidays and sports holidays in Barcelona, as well as retreats. For more information about training with Chris in Barcelona, please click on Barcelona Bienestar. To learn more about Chris, please read Just who is Chris Hunt anyway? You can also subscribe by completing the form on the this BLOG to receive articles and special offers straight to your inbox.

Chris pays all profits made from this BLOG to his charity partners. More details can be found by clicking on www.chrishuntwellness.com and selecting the “charity partners” tab.

3 thoughts on “Action bias: Are fitness and Pilates systems guilty?”

  1. Ah…..Pauses are crucial! In Tantra the ‘sandhi ‘ is the pause that happens naturally at the peak of each breath, coming in and full, or going out and empty. In these bodies, driven by the diastole and systole of the heart, to rush past these moments that occur naturally results in chronic feelings of dissatisfaction and fatigue. I agree with you, Chris. Regular pauses help clients feel what has just happened, creating more awareness, and resulting in better assimilation. After a set, or particularly strenuous exercise, I say, “pause, breathe, walk around the room, take a moment”. People seem to appreciate this – no one has EVER complained!

    1. Thanks for your comments Lavinia and for your opinion, I am very happy that we agree! :) Let’s keep in touch and keep letting our clients pause for thought :)

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