Jenn Hicks

Posts Tagged ‘MoveIT’

Reflexive Conditioning: Keep your brain and body healthy

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017


What is Reflexive Conditioning?

One of the many unique parts of a MoveIT class is that reflexive conditioning is offered.

Simply defined, reflexive conditioning is defined as the ability to respond without thinking. Reflexive muscular movement is involuntary and happens in response to a sensory stimulus.

dancing brain

What are Reflexive Muscular Movements?

We have all experienced reflexive muscular movement – it happens when the doctor hits the patella (knee) with an anvil and the lower leg extends forward, or when the optometrist shines a light into your eyes and your pupils constrict. Reflexes help keep us safe  by protecting us from danger, moving our bodies, helping us see and more.


Why do we need to condition our reflexes?

Why is it important to condition our reflexive muscular system? At a high level, reflexive conditioning helps us to optimize the nervous system by stimulating a very specific neuromuscular function. By training our reflexes, we are enhancing the health and responsiveness of our nervous systems so that they can react (and react quickly) as necessary.

More specifically, when our body can respond without thinking, we are safer.  For example, when we trip and fall, reflexes automatically direct our hands and arms to reach out and break the fall. Likewise, reflexive muscles will contract throughout our body to minimize injury from the fall.


Aging and reflexive muscular changes

As we age our brain and nervous systems change. We can lose nerve cells and weight (atrophy) and our nerve cells may begin to send messages more slowly than in the past. These changes in our nerves can affect our senses or lead to reduced/lost reflexes. This leads to problems with movement and safety. Take the example of touching a hot stove – as we age, it could take longer for our reflexive response to kick in and move our hand away. The outcome? What could be a pretty serious burn.


Modify and fine-tune your muscular reflexive actions

How? By coming to MoveIT!

Move IT interval trainingDid you know you can speed up nerve conduction (transmission of message delivery) through repetition and practice? You can! That’s how soccer players get good at kicking – they keep on practicing; training what could be considered reflexive (the patellar reflex) and eventually making it become under conscious control.

Likewise, in MoveIT we are training all kinds of reflexive movements (e.g.,  “startle” response, emotional responses, twitching, core reflexes, ocular reflexes & more).  We can train these reflexes to be available for us when we leave MoveIT class and live our lives. Through reflexive training (along with aerobic, anaerobic and voluntary conditioning), we can keep our nervous systems healthy by doing all the new movements that come up in class and by performing them in a diverse order.


Now you have more reasons to come to MoveIT – check out my schedule here!


(Thanks to my Nia friends Heather Umberger and Lisle Jefferies Hendrickson as well as Nia co-founder Debbie Rosas for helping me wrap my head around this important concept of “reflexive conditioning”!)

On mitochondria and thoughts on aging

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

What are your thoughts on aging?

When you think about aging, what comes to mind?

Do you think of wisdom? Or maybe creaky knees or downsizing? Or maybe you see aging as full of opportunity?mitochondria and aging and interval trainingLately, when I think about aging, mitochondria pops up for me. Mitochondria? Yes. That’s right.

And it all has to do with why I’m teaching MoveIT (interval training).


Mitochondria and a Theory of Aging

Mitochondria are considered to be the “powerhouses” or energy generators of the cell.  Without well-functioning mitochondria, we are without energy.

Mitochondria extract energy from the nutrients in our food and transform it into a chemical called ATP (adenosine triphosphate for you acronym meaning-seekers!).

ATP is the energy “currency” of the cell which is responsible for powering all of the cells’ metabolic activity. You might think of food-derived nutrients as “crude fuel” and ATP as the “refined fuel” that helps the cells do things like break down nutrients to be absorbed.

For a variety of (extremely complex) reasons, as we age, the energy-generating capacity of our cells’ mitochondria slowly decreases. This means that our cells become less and less effective at converting and using energy.

And so aging occurs.


Can we boost our mitochondria as we age?

As I’ve been learning more about why MoveIT is such an effective fitness practice, I’ve read over and over that the cellular benefit of exercise has only recently been discovered.

While we know that exercise is good for our heart and lungs and other organs, understanding how the building blocks of those organs (i.e., the cells) benefit from exercise is only now being discovered.

A study, recently published in Cell Metabolism found that interval training affected not only the participant’s cells, but also their genes.

Not only that, but the genes that were working differently after interval training are believed to influence the ability of mitochondria to produce energy for muscle cells.

In fact, the subjects who did the interval workouts showed increases in both the number and health of their mitochondria — this finding was particularly pronounced in older subjects.


How does interval training work?

In every MoveIT class, we challenge ourselves to get into a period of “enough” between 3-6 times during the class. “Enough” is defined as a period of short duration, high intensity movement lasting anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

The period of “enough” is when we use movement to get to our maximum aerobic capacity –  the point where we literally run out of oxygen supply for the muscles. When we get to this place of “enough”, our bodies then rely on other energy systems – anaerobic metabolism – which ultimately increases the efficiency of the cell.

Because of the potential to build up lactic acid during strenuous activity, active rest intervals are interspersed into periods of “enough” so that we can again return to maximum effort/”enough”.

Active rest periods also allow the muscles and the central nervous system to recover and come back with a punch during the next period of “enough”.


Curious and want to read more?

Look here and here  and here and here!