The Curiously Simple Way To Get A Healthier And Stronger Body And Mind This Year

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The Curiously Simple Way To Get A Healthier And Stronger Body And Mind This Year

Words by Mr Colin Crummy | Photography by Ms Ana Cuba | Styling by Mr Charlie Schneider

3 January 2023

We like to make life difficult for ourselves. Take, for example, the annual new year rituals. Somehow, we have decided that January – the coldest, darkest, toughest month of the year (in the northern hemisphere at least) – is also the best time to insist upon radical change. We ask our bodies to undertake incredible 30-day challenges. We couple these with demands of ridiculous self-restraint. We then insist that, by winter’s end, we will be utterly reinvented in mind, body and spirit.

Impossible goal setting in this climate? We don’t know about you, but it all sounds rather exhausting. But there is another way to think about. Our bodies want to move, says fitness expert Mr Flynn Disney, and the best thing we can do is listen to them. And, though it might seem counter intuitive, a scroll through social media is your first step to change in 2023.

“A little task is to pay attention to your body when you watch movement videos on Instagram,” Disney says. “When does your heart rate go up? When do you get excited? That might be a sign of anticipation; that your body can imagine itself in action. Maybe even, that your body wants to be moving.”

Flicking through the social media profiles of the enviably flexible like @flynndisney may seem like a fanciful way to motivate yourself. But Disney’s ideas are grounded in science. A long-time parkour devotee, injury led Disney to explore how psychological theory might help him move again. One lesson he’s learnt is not to force the issue of exercise. “Discipline and forcefulness work for some people,” he says. “But most are better off approaching movement with meaning and curiosity in mind.”

Mindful of this, MR PORTER put our best minds to work on the kind of gear that will help you do what your body wants this new year. Here, scientific principles apply, too: think lightweight items – like the Goldwin nylon ripstop running jacket sported by Disney – with brainy design elements built in, such as wind-resistant material and ventilation for optimal breathability. Inquisitive sneaker geeks will understand the science behind sporting footwear like the APL Athletic Propulsion Labs running sneakers, with FutureFoam midsoles crafted to ensure as smooth a stride as possible.

But how does a curious mind help us get smoothly from couch to 5k? Disney, who runs a movement coaching practice with his wife in Pula, Croatia, suggests that once you have established what kind of movement piques your body’s interest, be it parkour, calisthenics, trail running or hatha yoga, then explore that further, ideally with other like-minded bodies. “See if you can follow that energy, find a community and try to make some decent progress in the practice that got you excited.”

All this is not to say a new pair of sneakers and that initial excitement will be enough to sustain you over the long distance. Goals, above and beyond a six-pack body, can be motivating, too. Embracing a new fitness model can potentially affect how we move through the world, says Disney, who also runs an online forum called The Exploration group, which examines how psychological principles can be applied to movement. “The joy of movement and overcoming challenge can reshape our internal model of what the world is like,” he says. “A strong and resilient body tells us we have little to fear. By frequently encountering challenges just at the edge of what you’re familiar with, you’ll naturally start to evolve.”

If mindful movement appeals – whether by stretching or in a gentle yoga practice – go for gear with elasticity included (the lululemon stretch-nylon track pants are a great shout), but also consider clothes like comfortable, breathable cotton T-shirts that won’t distract you from your Om.

And if your vibe is about toughing it out outdoors, you are advised to go heavy duty on your workout style. Hardwearing, waterproof sneakers are a must, while robust pants such as the And Wander canvas trousers worn by Disney, should see you weather all the season throws at you. Finally, whether your movement be fast or slow, keep things warm and loose in a down gilet that can be easily slipped off once your heart rate is up.

Whatever your next move, you shouldn’t feel obligated to see it out in gruelling fashion. You can always switch things up again. “Submerge yourself in a new movement world for as long as it feels meaningful,” Disney says. “It’s your call to adventure.”

On the move