Jenn Hicks

Posts Tagged ‘Music’

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”!)

Gord Downie: A True Passionista

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

I’m not a music groupie.

I’ve always “liked” a wide range of musicians without solely devoting my interest to any one genre or artist.

If you’ve been to my Nia classes, you know I can rock out to all kinds of music. I feel so much soul in a musician’s offering.
And yet…this is different.

When I was in grad school, I connected with the Tragically Hip.
Deeply. Honestly.
In a way I’d never known. Ever.

In particular, Gord Downie.

Today we learned he has brain cancer.
Incurable. Terminal.
I cried and *felt* what I don’t often feel.
(Or let myself feel).

Why? I don’t know the man.
Why would grief come into my reaction to today’s news?

Gord’s relationship to lyrics and performance is so energizing to me.
He is passionate and passion really turns me on.
With a wide smile and a flutter of excitement, I have watched him perform live several times.
I remember one concert at Massey Hall where he played with his handkerchief;
kicking it up with his feet, picking it up between two legs,
throwing it into the audience.
I caught faint giggles when he thought of something new he could do with it.

In his dancing, I see authenticity – a true “dance” with his music.
I see a body that moves with and through his music with a freedom to express wholeheartedly.

His playfulness is real. Undeniable.

He exudes presence, joy and mastery of his chosen path.
And his deep spirit has a connection with mine.

I think I have gotten to know myself a *tiny* bit better through those profound lyrics and his passion.
And, frankly, grieving with a community is so much easier than taking on the task on my own…

May your journey be light and full of love from here on out, Gord.