I just finished a book that I would recommend to anyone who is trying to juggle skating with professional work commitments, and who needs ammunition against arguments that skating cuts down on “productivity” or is “a waste of time.” It’s Alex Soojun-Kim Pang’s Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less.
Pang’s basic arguments–that “rest” is a skill we need to cultivate in a culture when we brag about our overloaded work schedules and multi-tasking and that rest is not just sitting around staring into space, but can be creative and athletic activities that we put lots of effort and time into–are pretty obvious to anyone who has been working in a high-pressure job for any length of time. But he makes these argument more than just wishful thinking, giving lots of thoughtful examples for why we have to do this so that we can be better at what we do and avoid burnout.
This includes all the work we do at home as well as at the office. Though many of Pang’s examples are men, he does take care to talk about the added responsibilities that many working women face–their other responsibilities of caregiving, homemaking, and other life maintenance don’t end when they get back from the office. Wish I’d read this years ago–not so I could make different life choices, but so I could simply tell others to read it rather than just pressuring me to add yet another soul-sucking task to my to-do list.
I’m sure this applies to folks who are pretty much full-time figure skaters. Everyone needs some encouragement towards the “less is more” side. But with a physical activity, there is hopefully a point when your body reminds you that you are overdoing things. A lot of my work time is spent on the computer, and it’s tempting to keep working even after regular hours evenings and weekends.
Thank you, Alex Pang! You’ve definitely hit my “recommended” list.
Okay, time to report on skating now. Now that reading Alex Pang’s Rest has made me feel totally virtuous about blocking out time to skate on my (admittedly long) lunch hour, I am happy to say that I’m back to a regular practice schedule. Laurie and I continue to have great (though humbling) lessons about the fact that I am not preserving my lean when I do swing rolls. That feeling of having my skate edge run outside of where my body is still baffles me on some deep level, and I fight it with all kinds of strange contortions. Still, it is deeply restful and now I can gloat about how it’s making me more rather than less productive at work!
- Exercise for deep back inside edges that curve immediately. If you do this correctly the tracing starts to resemble an “infinity” sign. Don’t drop your hip out, and pretend you have a squirrel or fox tail that moves freely along the circle.
- Progressives. New foot encounters the ice outside of your body. Imagine a theraband stretching across the hips that allow the skating hip and leg to turn out slightly to counter the stretch of the free leg.
- Swing rolls. Don’t come up on top of skate and lose your lean into the circle.