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Play Like Your Life Depends on it (because it does!)

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing”

-George Bernard Shaw


When was the last time you TRULY PLAYED? 


I have observed that many adults have simply forgotten how to play, or they don’t value it. This is especially evident in the gym. Adults seem to think play doesn’t feel like a “workout” needs to feel like, look like, or smell like to be effective. I almost never see parents actually playing with their kids on the playground. It’s as if play can’t help them accomplish some imaginary adult badge of honor for worthiness, which is kind of ironic.  I myself am a reformed gym junkie that was once far removed from play as a professional Highland Games athlete. It was all business in the gym and on the field through my late 20’s and 30’s with lots of aches and pains. Now in my 40’s I’ve reclaimed a playful attitude towards movement and can move better than ever without pain thanks to the OS resets/system. The one truth that I know from my years of coaching, observing, and training is that all of us should play every day, even if it’s for just a few minutes. Your quality of life truly does depend on it!


How do I define play? 


Get down on the ground and press “reset” in an unscripted movement flow for 5 minutes, make up an obstacle course, take a long hike in the woods while hopping on logs or other obstacles in the woods, find a dog, cat, kid or someone to play with and follow their lead. 


It’s really that easy… no script, no specific agenda, just clear your mind and move with no real expectations besides exploring what your body can do FOR YOU. You will open up old, creative play pathways in your brain before you know it and awaken your childhood “playful brain” and likely find yourself smiling, laughing and feeling like a kid again in no time. 


Play is truly a fountain of youth that should be as much a part of your day as brushing your teeth, drinking water, or eating healthy food. Essentially, it’s like a vitamin that you can’t get in a bottle!


Relearning to play may take a little time if you have stopped playing and moving freely for some time. Most gym junkies are massively in need of this. Have you noticed that many of them move like Frankenstein robots? Smooth and playful movement gets lost for most adults quite quickly. The reactive, powerful, creative energy of true play is likely the first thing you lose. How many adults can pop right out of bed or a chair in the morning let alone sprint, roll, and jump onto a high box without warming up?  With some time and consistent effort you can reclaim your “play brain” and start noticing a difference in as little as a few days. 


Here is the ideal “Playtime Sandwich” from my experience:


Find a quiet place, ideally outside in the morning sunshine with bare feet and minimal clothing to really get in touch with nature (do this year round for bonus points and a new challenge).


  1. Start with 5 minutes of deep breathing. You can use an app or simply do some intentional deep breathing from various positions to clear your head, set your intention for the day, and prime your body, mind and soul to be your best.
  2. Next, listen to your what your body is telling you (are you stiff, sore, or tight in any areas that may need some extra love?) and Press RESET Original Strength style with some developmental patterns like rocking, head nods, rolling, crawling and cross crawling.  This is the start of play for a healthy, balanced person who does not need any special attention to areas that are weak, deconditioned or injured. For many this time may need to be more scripted and specific for a few weeks or months even to really get the feeling and re-establish a reflexive, resilient body. 
  3. Finally finish your daily Playtime Sandwich with some play! You can have a theme like balance training on one leg or make it a challenge like how many ways can you get off the ground without using your hands, but the beauty of this is just letting your body and mind play without trying to qualify, quantify or judge anything as good or bad. Kids don’t think this way when they are young, they just move and find ways to accomplish what they want to do, so you can do this AGAIN too!


Ready to take your play to the next level with our “Crash Proof” program!?

Here is a sample of the principles/pillars of what it’s all about.  Learn more about CrashProof here.



About the Author:

John Odden is an experienced strength coach and Original Strength Certified Professional, and a Highland Games World Record Holder based out of Bend, Oregon.

Since he was a child he has been fascinated with improving his health, fitness and athleticism. He was a tall, skinny, awkward kid growing up who always lacked confidence, especially in the gym.  Unfortunately, some misguided enthusiasm resulted in chronic back and shoulder injuries that sidelined his athletic career and limited his quality of life well into his 30s.  Unknowingly, these injuries and setbacks would be the cornerstone of his passion and unique perspective on how to teach others to live an empowered, pain-free, active life using the strength and movement principles that he has created and honed in his 20+ year career.

John has recently worked with our OSi Online team to develop this stellar Crash Proof Course.

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