Words are simply movements of the lungs, throat, tongue, and mouth that collaboratively make sounds associated with language. Our parents taught us through example how to make these sounds. The sounds specific to speaking a language are not instinctive, not like walking or standing. Instead, our ability to manipulate sound to produce language was learned when we were children. Over the years, our learned patterns of movement that we call words became the foundation of our world and formed our identity.
Immersing in a new language forces us into childhood once again. Our words, those inherited movement patterns, no longer serve us. We can no longer rely on our learned method of making sound. To speak a new language, we must retrain our mouth and our tongue to move differently in conjunction with the lungs, throat and vocal cords. In Italian, for example, the tongue becomes quite active against the upper palette and front teeth, and the throat becomes more relaxed. Essentially, we become young children again learning to vocalize.
Dance, sports, exercise are all languages. Like speech, they all require collaborative movement patterns. To be successful in any of these languages, the body must be retrained slowly and carefully. As a former ballet dancer, I trained daily to produce movement fluidly and efficiently. It is not a form that can be picked at randomly. Like a second language, ballet requires constant training of the body.
I chose to be a personal trainer, not to help people lose weight quickly or to muscle up for the next beach season. I want people to retrain their bodies, to find a new language of movement that is beneficial to staying strong and healthy beyond age fifty, sixty, seventy, or even eighty years of age. This language may not be based on the learned movement patterns of childhood. It may require a slow catechism of physical forms to train the body. For this reason, I encourage my clients to set goals in the short term, but to think in the long term.
Exercise is language.