Two lego figures on a bicycle in woodland background. Aug 13th, 2020

David Hockney Was Right: Play Is Serious

I think David Hockney was right when he said “people tend to forget, play is serious.”

I say this because, prior to coronavirus restrictions on society being lifted, I was getting bored with lockdown workouts. There I’ve said it, so you can too.

It got me thinking about how and when exercise becomes play, or if being playful can be considered ‘proper’ exercise. I also started thinking of Lego, and whether we can learn any lessons from the Danish toy brand about our own health and fitness? Here are some thoughts.

1. Reinvent your routine

When Lego’s sales took a nosedive, they consistently found new ways to be successful. Is your fitness routine in need of some reinvention?

This week, mine was, so I decided to go for a solo hike to freshen things up. I also lost track of time and ended up doing 20km (my feet still ache). But I could feel it was good for me. If you are failing to find your “inner peace” on the yoga mat, maybe you need to go reinvent your routine too.

2. Experiment with new exercises

Lego has invested time, money and energy into projects that didn’t eventually make it to market. So why not try something different, or unusual? As we are gradually given more freedoms to do so, why not choose something active that you wouldn’t ordinarily do?

Woman practising yoga on a beach during sunset

3. Don’t always follow the instructions

During lockdown, I’ve been building Lego figures with my son on Fridays. Lots and lots of Lego figures. I only just realised that they actually come with instructions, but they’re tucked away at the back of the magazine that comes with them. So we’ve just been battling away with these things, determined to build them. They have mostly come out ok but we have had to improvise a lot!

We don’t care too much if it looks like the picture, it’s not ‘wrong’. So, don’t wait for someone to give you permission to go “play”. Instead, adopt a “play state”. Psychologists have even shown that playful people are at an advantage.

4. Balance tradition with innovation

Lego has a recipe for success which has remained unchanged for years. But they consistently innovate tried and tested methods with new twists on tradition.

I’ve long seen this as the way forward for fitness too. Old school methods and simple training techniques are still the best, but at Club 51 we use innovation and technology to help track, monitor and help our clients move forward, achieve better outcomes, and make progress. We are working on an innovation lab to help us do this.

5. Collaborate with others

Collaboration is what has made Lego so successful over the past 10 years. Their ability to create new entities, movies, TV shows has been aided by their partnerships with brilliant people.

Can you partner up with someone to help keep your internal motivation levels higher? Play tennis with a friend? Have a walking meeting with a colleague? Cycle with the family on the weekend? The family that plays together stays together. I know, it’s too saccharine, but I still love it.

Fit group of young friends exercising on a treadmill in gym

6. Play with Lego. Literally.

Abbie Headon’s recent book Build Yourself Happy talks about the Lego Brick Road to happiness. One key takeaway is that it can seriously improve cognition. A mathematician recently deduced that just six eight-stud bricks of the same colour could be combined 915,103,765 ways. David Beckham’s even playing with lego so it must make you smarter. Don’t believe me? Click here and see!

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