MOVEMENT IS LIFE
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© Pieter Derycke 2019
  • Pieter Derycke

Hanging and the environment - part 1 - a story


I would like to start with a story about my son Aster, a story that really happened. The telling of the story is timely, because of Ido Portal’s ‘hanging challenge’ (more on that below).


Music for reading (Fela Kuti!)


When Aster was a bit more than 5 years old, one day he came home from school and told us that the gym teacher said that he was the strongest one in his class. Now, I know that he likes the physical activity classes, and that he is a reasonably good all-round mover. And of course, any dad likes to hear that his son is the strongest of the class. But he is quite small and lean compared to most of his classmates, and consequently has less ‘body’ to use, so I said that he must be mistaken. But he insisted that his teacher really told him he was the strongest. I asked him how she knew this. He told me that he was the only one to complete a task, so he was the strongest.


The task he was talking about was pulling up on a climbing rope, and then traversing multiple ropes sideways without touching the floor.


Knowing this, I knew that he probably was not bragging.


(Now, you may suspect me of bragging about my son. Let’s say I’m just a proud father…)


I knew, because my children are good hangers and climbers, for the sole reason that they hang and climb quite a lot, certainly more than most other children. They do it because they like it, and I suspect they don’t like it more than others, but they have more opportunities.

We’ve got 4 wooden gymnastic rings, a used TRX, and Swedish bars dispersed in the house. In the garden, I made a climbing and hanging structure from 3 double second-hand Swedish bars, and some rings and a trapeze on the mulberry tree. I’m still thinking about making a brachiation place of the carport…


(Again, I’m not bragging about my stuff here… I’m just trying to make a point about environment and behaviour)


Knowing the above, you can imagine the smile on my face when I saw this video below.

These parents have even taken it one step (or more) further.



Your environment changes your behaviour. If there is nothing to hang from or to climb on, you will not hang and climb. Especially for children with their playful view of the world, the opportunity is enough to make them do it. Every parent knows this, you give them just one opportunity, and they will take it, whether you like it or not. Actually, you don’t need to give them the opportuniy, they’ll see one before you even know there is an opportunity…


I often advise patients to hang, but their immediate response is almost always: where?? This is exactly my point. There is no need to hang in our daily lives, so we don’t do it. And the consequence is that even if you want to hang, you find no opportunities to do so.


If you want to hang, you need a place to hang. Find or make one!


Why should you hang, or climb, or brachiate? Because it is fun!


If that is not enough to motivate you, go take a look at Ido Portal’s blogs and hanging challenge. There’s nothing I can add to the advice from Ido. I’m not really the one to give unsolicited advice, but I’ll make an exception for now: take the hanging challenge!


And look out for part two, where I’ll digress a bit about environmental enrichment and parkour vision.


Thanks for reading,


Pieter