Function 2 Flow | Function
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One may analyze any movement experience through the perspective of exercise science, particularly musculoskeletal function, such as the pushing, pulling, extending and contracting actions of the body involved in any physical activity. This perspective of understanding and assessing movement is typically paired with, but is not limited to, personalized fitness programming.


When experiencing personalized fitness programs targeted at increasing one’s cardiovascular, muscular strength and endurance capacity, attention is usually paid to quantitative indices that delineate the frequency, intensity, time and type (FITT) of activity. Tracking such indices might be essential to providing motivation for, and accountability to, becoming fit. In addition to the quantitative measures that define the fitness experience, the Function register of flow consciousness in our Function2Flow model draws attention to the fundamental extending and contracting actions of the body (Smith & Lloyd, 2007; Lloyd & Smith, 2010) that derive from “primitive and integrated reflexes, righting reactions, and equilibration responses” (Bainbridge Cohen, 1993, p. 122-156). Thus, the functional register of movement consciousness also involves the body’s fluidity and the maintenance of an anatomical dexterity that allows these primary and elaborated motions to fit the environments in which we find ourselves and in which we choose, at times, to engage in strenuous activity. Pushing, pulling, extending, and contracting give rise, developmentally, to standing, walking, running, swimming, kicking, throwing, holding, catching, swinging, leaping and landing (Gallahue and Donnelly, 2003). We assign, as enabling conditions for these motions, the physiological, anatomical, and biomechanical indices of aerobic capacity (max VO2), muscle strength (isotonic and isometric contractions), body composition (percentage body fat) and flexibility (range of motion). But these measures of physical potential do not encapsulate the range of flow motions that are produced when we realize that: the capacity to take up oxygen is literally the capacity to be physically inspired to move; the strength of one’s muscles is not so much a hardening of form as it is a proprioception of tone and tension in and around the musculature, ligaments and tendons that allows for definitive movements; the fat composition of one’s body is but an indicator of the composure of the body and its organs that is required to move in particular planes and patterns and through various postures, positions, gestures and expressions; and joint flexibility is the attestable result of cultivating and maintaining a supple responsiveness to, and resonance with, the environments in which we choose to play, dance, and create sports and recreations.


When you experience a mainstream or alternative activity, you may consider the following prompts to better understand the role of muscular function:

  • How would you describe the fundamental movement pattern that is at the heart of your desired activity (i.e., are you sitting, standing, reaching, twisting, etc.?)?
  • What body parts and muscles are involved in your activity?
  • What muscles contract in your desired action?
  • What muscles elongate in your desired action?
  • What muscles relax?
  • How might this awareness help you refine this action?
  • How might this awareness transfer to other activities?