COMPANION

Fitness

Fitness in general; includes general exercising, working out.

F. M. Alexander

F. M. Alexander is reported to have discouraged exercises, dance, sports and other activities while people were having lessons and when he thought these activities were detrimental to their use.[1] This attitude has sometimes been inferred as a discouragement of exercises and activities in general, and reluctance by some teachers of the Technique to pursue sports. However, F. M. Alexander was a devoted horse rider, and several first generation teachers pursued activities: Wilfred Barlow was a keen skier, Walter Carrington a perceptive and regular horse rider, Richard and Elisabeth Walker did mountaineering (and Richard Walker took up the Alexander Technique to improve his golf).

F. M. Alexander criticises the attitude towards sports competitions, using the example of rowers in a picture published in The Evening Standard in 1939 with the caption ‘Determination mirrored in their faces’. Alexander writes in UCL:

I have carefully studied the expression on the faces of the young men in the picture, but have failed to find any justification for the above caption. Four of them look as if they were being tortured on the rack, three as if in a trance, and just one, the third from the left, as if he had taken part in a rowing race and had the right attitude towards a rowing contest. Surely a university boat race should be a friendly contest between men animated by the sporting instinct. Every one of them should wish the victory to go to the best crew. It should be an experience of pleasure, happiness, and healthy recreation to all concerned, not an unnatural struggle involving distortion and loss of consciousness through the ‘determination’ to gain an end even at the cost of personal exhaustion and damage.[2]

Apart from the example of playing golf, there are no instructions in Alexander’s writings for any specific sport. He regarded the principles as applicable to all activities.

I wrote a technique for golf and I never played golf in my life, and yet Dunn, the famous golfer, said, ‘Ah, yes, that’s right, that is it.’[3]

Writings – Books

  • The Performance Paradox by Roy Palmer is an introduction to the principles of the Alexander Technique for the purpose of sports training and exercises.[4]
  • Zone Mind, Zone Body by Roy Palmer defines the ‘zone’ and how to find it using the Alexander Technique.[5]
  • Master the Art of Working Out by Malcolm Balk, Andrew Shields contains sections on the exercise bike, weight lifting, olympic lifts, abdominal exercises, the rowing machine, press ups, resistance training.[6]

Writings – Articles

  • ‘On fitness – Extracts from a conversation with David Gorman’ by Sean Carey is on an Alexander Technique approach to fitness.[7]

See also under individual sports and fitness activities.

References

[1] Personally Speaking by Walter Carrington, Seán Carey, (Mouritz, 2001 [1986]), pp. 40–41.
[2] The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), p. 52–53.
[3] ‘An unrecognised principle’ in Articles and Lectures by F. Matthias Alexander, edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (Mouritz, 1995), p. 156.
[4] The Performance Paradox by Roy Palmer (author, 2001).
[5] Zone Mind, Zone Body by Roy Palmer (Ecademy Press, 2006).
[6] Master the Art of Working Out by Malcolm Balk, Andrew Shields (Collins & Brown, 2007).
[7] ‘On fitness – Extracts from a conversation with David Gorman’ by Sean Carey in The Alexander Review vol. 4, no. 1 (Centerline Press, 1990), pp. 55–63.
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