3-D Workout Enriches the Training Process

3-D grows in sophistication with time: In the years since the first DVD came out (2001), it has become clear that 3-D Workout™ is not only excellent functional training, but a feel-good fitness experience as well. As usual, it takes a while for science to catch up to experience. 3-D Workout was initially inspired by the work of distinguished movement professionals: Irmgard Bartenieff and her movement fundamentals, Rudolf Laban’s Space Harmony, and the research of Dr. Vladimir Janda. More recently – and thanks to the research of Dr. Robert Schleip in Germany, Gil Hedley and Thomas Myers in the United States, and many others – we understand more about the soft connective tissue known as fascia and its importance to body movement, mood, and metabolism.

Dr. Robert Schleip tells us to keep fascia fit “through movements that load the tissue over multiple extension ranges while utilizing their elastic springiness” (Schleip and Muller, 2012). The authors demonstrate this concept with whole body reaches and stretches into the space around the body. This idea has been a part of 3-D Workout since its beginning. In addition, an understanding of fascia makes us think differently with respect to intervals, rhythmicity, coordination and body organization, stretching techniques, whole body elasticity and strength development.

A deepening clarity about Bartenieff Fundamentals™: I believe that Irmgard Bartenieff was referring to properties of fascial matrix when she spoke of the “connectedness” and wholeness of the body as it moves. Our understanding of fascia along with her teaching of spatial intent, mobility of the center of gravity and whole-body function only enriches our appreciation of Bartenieff Fundamentals.

Function should be the new gold standard for fitness: Function, after all, comes from the word “perform”. Applied to the body, it means the ability to physically do whatever one wishes to do. We might also call that “skill” or “coordination” – words that reflect the quality of the action performed. I believe that the ability to function on demand, to have a body that is responsive to one’s needs, and is under one’s control is the most important benefit of exercise. Never mind the marketing hype that sells club memberships and diets on the promise of shapely abdominal muscles. What truly matters is becoming the functional human beings we were meant to be with readiness to move on two feet, strength, range of motion, and coordination.

3-D Workout also offers qualitative changes: It’s as if the body outline becomes clearer as the client becomes more spatially present. I think this is what Dr. Schleip describes as “fascial embodiment”. One client described his new sensation of body awareness: “I have a back and sides as well as a front. I love it”. One of my instructors, teaching in a seniors’ center commented on her students: “they show up, they stop complaining about their pain, and they wear short sleeves because they are proud of their arms”. One student described the somatic sensation after a class as one of being awakened and refreshed, worked to a light strain but not to exhaustion.

The practice of 3-D Workout carries over into daily life and sport in every way. One student experienced a revelation when, after spending a marathon weekend in the dirt doing her spring gardening, she wasn’t crippled. An instructor described her swimming skills as moving to a new level without any new coaching or additional practice of those skills.

It is my hope that 3-D Workout will help to change the culture of exercise such that body movement will become a normal, life-long pursuit, done wherever and whenever the body calls for it.