Why is it called 3-D Workout?

First, it’s a physical fitness program. Secondly, it uses the space around the body in a special way—that’s the 3-D part. Most of us know about 3-D from the movies. In a 3-D movie the action seems to jump out from the screen. The normal film picture is 2-D (two-dimensional). It shows us width and height (side-side and up-down). The 3-D picture adds depth (front-back). The special glasses you wear allow you to see the third dimension, the depth of the action, as it leaps out from the screen. I put all the dimensions of space to work in my unique exercise program, 3-D Workout. Since we move in three-dimensions every day of our lives, we should have an exercise program that supports that type of movement. Most of the exercises at the gym are done in one dimension at a time. Some use almost no space behind the body and many are done while sitting. 3-D Workout is designed to use all the dimensions. In a short program, you get the basis for every movement in your daily life.

My 3-D Workout exercises move in all the space around the body, upward-downward, side to side, forward-backward. They also teach you the most important part of standing and moving on two feet: weight shift (from one foot to another) and level change (going up and down). They also tune-up your torso and limbs to move together in coordination so that you can cope with the demands of life. Some of these are walking, getting in and out of a car or other chair, making a bed, climbing stairs, carrying things and reaching for things. All sports performed on two feet use weight shift and level change, patterns, and multi-dimensions. We move our bodies in three dimensions in everything we do. Why not train for that kind of movement?

“I was taking the escalator and somehow I slipped, dropping my purse and my carry-all, BUT, I DIDN’T FALL. My balance was good. I was able to recover quickly. That’s from 3-D Workout.” – ML

This client didn’t fall because she was well grounded. Does your fitness program train your grounding? It should because that is the basis of good walking, confident balance and everything else you do on two feet. For best results, exercise on your feet, not sitting at a machine.

How 3-D Workout, vol. II, builds on the Basics of vol. I

The overall and ultimate purpose of 3-D WORKOUT™ is to improve the way you move your body as a whole. Everyone benefits whether by improving musculoskeletal patterns and posture, to working with coordination and balance. ‘Make sure your body is moving well before you load it‘ is really the idea behind 3-D WORKOUT™. Rather than trying to target an individual muscle or focusing on lifting heavy weights, 3-D WORKOUT™ focuses on moving and coordinating your whole body in all three dimensions in space. By moving well, the client prevents and eliminates injuries. The result is improved movement patterns, better spatial awareness and a reliable body that can balance and coordinate itself with improved posture.
Michael Gatbonton, Certified Level I and II Instructor

In 1988, I started using 3-D WORKOUT, as an “exercise” system in my work as a clinical movement specialist and PhD candidate. The movement material I brought to this setting complemented the clinical rehabilitation services then offered. I taught Bartenieff Fundamentals™ in classes and with individual clients without using weights. Later I added weights and expanded the material to its present format. Since then I have continually developed and refined the material and trained instructors of which there are 30 at this writing.

In general the Level II class follows the volume II DVD containing 27 sequences. Fourteen sequences are new, seven of which are built on Level I, and six more besides. The sequences appearing on the DVD may be learned and practiced without a teacher. However, there are many sequences in Level II classes that do not appear on the DVD. These are taught in the class setting in which the client has the eye and mind of an experienced instructor.

The two levels of 3-D WORKOUT sequences complement each other and should be used in alternation or in combination. Level I is not “better than” Level II even though the greater complexity of the latter is appealing to some. However, attempting the standing Level II sequences without the weight shift and level change skills established in Level I, will mean the student is unwittingly missing crucial material on which successful Level II exercises and all bipedal function depends. That said, the essence of 3-D Body Integration never changes; most people can adequately learn to roll around on the floor. The 3-D Stretching sequences contribute to enhanced range of motion and over-all flexibility. 3-D Resistance Training builds on the mover’s weight shift and level change skills to support additional strength and coordination of whole-body movement.

With 3-D WORKOUT practice your client learns to activate and mobilize the fascial matrix for elasticity and resilience while moving through the kinesphere on two feet. He/she strives to shift weight and change levels effortlessly and efficiently. Support from the lower body, frees the upper body for its full range of movement and access to space. Clients also learn
to take support from the breath, space and the surface so that their movement is less strained and more integrated. The process of systematically using the body in space makes 3-D WORKOUT unique in fitness systems. Daily and sport activities are enhanced because the motoric template in the CNS has been expanded and refined. The totality of the workout, used regularly, makes everything we do easier, lighter, more efficient and safer.

3-D Workout as Therapy

Do you have an old injury that nags you, that you constantly work around? Or did you have to quit the sport you once enjoyed? Did you lose your athletic scholarship or your place on your community team? Maybe you failed your functional fitness test for work or for the military? Perhaps you chalk up your movement problems to aging?

Suppose you want to change this situation. Going to therapy is an option but perhaps you’ve been down that road and you’re still wanting a better quality of life. You could try a different therapist or you could try 3-D Workout.

A student comments: “I experienced lower back and hip pain and was starting to walk with a slight limp. I was feeling very old. My chiropractor told me to do nothing in between appointments. I did some research and decided to try 3-D Workout. Within a month of starting a once-a-week 3-D Workout class, I was noticing pain free moments and was becoming more active” (DS, 45, female).

How 3-D works as therapy. 3-D balances your body. It does this not by treating the symptom but by taking you back to the way you were designed to move — to your basic body patterns. Patterns get thrown off by life’s habits, by neglect, by avoiding the use of your body due to pain or restriction in the fascia. These patterns can be restored.

A balanced body. You got your injury by not being balanced. To regain that balance you need not isolated muscle work, but whole-body exercise. 3-D’s whole body exercise works by taking the stress and strain out of the injury so it can heal; so it can find its way to normal, the way the body wants to be. Moving gradually, mindfully — noticing the sensations as they change, takes you back to the true core — the balance, the symmetry, the ease of movement that is your birthright.

Improved patterns. It’s not that complicated to get your body movement in shape. Compared to dieting for weight loss, 3-D is a cinch. In dieting you have to monitor every morsel you put in your mouth for a lifetime. Doing 3-D Workout 15 – 30 minutes every other day restores and maintains your essential body patterns. The movement will get better every time you practice. You will enjoy the result; the process is simple and pleasant. You will look forward to it and want to do more. The results will show up in every daily activity and sport you do. You can re-claim your active life.

A new experience. These essential patterns are missing from conventional fitness training so they may be unfamiliar to you. Don’t let that scare you off. There are many kinds of strength. Learn to value what works, not just what shows. So stop forcing and straining; start connecting with your essential, natural patterns. That’s really what being “in shape” means. It’s not just how you look, it’s how you move.

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.

3-D Workout stories from instructors

From PO: A client of mine hurt her back quite badly, to the point where she could not comfortably transition to and from the floor. Using a few of the Chair-based variations of the 3-D Workout, I was able to teach her movement sequences which allowed her to regain her feelings of mobility without pain.

From LB: I use 3-D Workout constantly with my senior clients – classes and individuals. It is exhilarating for client and teacher to experience the positive progression of both movement skills and ease of weight shift and to witness the joy these exercises bring.

I taught side sweep to my 90+ year old client and her face was a picture to see as she swept her arms out wide and down in the final movement – she LOVED it!

From TVA: My most rewarding client is S. She is a quiet, taciturn woman who in the many years I’ve known her, rarely had I seen her smile. I was actually quite surprised at her interest, but she’s never missed a class. She began with many physical issues, mostly from weight and lack of movement. A year later, she has improved her range of movement and is always proud to tell me how her life is better – “I know 3-D has made me survive snow shoveling pain free!” Most importantly, she smiles now. Her attitude is so positive and I think this once a week hour of her time for self-improvement has given her both a new confidence and a community she feels comfortable with. Working with her and seeing the positive changes has been equally rewarding for me.

From VB: I did 3-D with my daughter-in-law’s mother and she felt such a change in her body and felt great. I could see it also. We only did a few exercises. She was much more relaxed and open including her face. She lives in Montreal. I hope she will order your DVDs.
Response to VB: I don’t know who said “a little bit of something is worth more than a lot of nothing”. I often use this when coaching someone to get active. I would add, it’s not the amount of movement but the type of movement that works to quietly organize the body and keep us feeling well. The benefit your client got is from variety of movement—the key to well-being—that 3-D systematically offers.