In part two of this series, ViPR global master coach John Sinclair discussed why play is so important for us and how, regardless of our age, gender or activity level, we all need to add play into our lives. In the final installment, he shares his favorite form of play, which you can incorporate into your training immediately with ViPR. 

ViPR is a spectacular tool for introducing rough and tumble play. This type of play is described in detail in the book Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Dr Stuart Brown. 

Play was an essential part of my upbringing and I am thankful that I had full range to explore play and all that it is. “When we play, we are engaged in the purest expression of our individuality. Is it any wonder that often the times we feel most alive, those that make up our best memories, are moments of play?” Stuart Brown hit the nail on the head with that quote from his book. The fondest memories I have are of rough and tumble play with my dogs, brothers, friends and fellow athletes. From football and hockey games, to the wrestling matches we created in the backyard and even games of war with real air rifles (yes, we were crazy), we played rough. It built character, resilience and grit. Those are qualities I am proud to have today.

Rough and tumble play exists in all species. It is very evident in mammals. Some of my favorite videos I like to post are those exhibiting rough and tumble play with mammals. 

All of us exhibit a ‘play signal’. You may have experienced this when you drop into a ready position when facing your dog. Immediately, your dog will drop into their ready-to-play position. There is also a safety factor that is built into these play signals. Mammals communicate a level of safety with play and will let you know when you have gone too far. It usually takes a yelp or a bark. When you watch the video of the lions with Kevin Richardson you see that the lions’ tails are up and their ears are back. They are fully engaged in play. Humans have that ability too. The way we communicate safety and security in play is very similar. We communicate with our body language. 

I am a firm believer of adding rough and tumble play back into our lives. I feel that we spend almost too much time creating too many rules that protect us and we do not challenge ourselves out of our comfort zone. While that can be scary to some, we can massage in some rough and tumble play activities without increasing anxiety in our client’s sessions. The most important thing to think about is to explore the comfort level with your client first. Ask them after each set of exercise how they would rate that exercise. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being most comfortable, how would you rate that exercise? What could I do to make it more comfortable for you?

Examples of rough and tumble play are games of tag, wrestling, tug of war, warding, and other battle games.

ViPR is an excellent tool for massaging in some battle and warding drills. Below are some examples of how I have used ViPR to help clients get used to the concept of battling in a session.

Using a narrow grip sprawl on top of the large diameter ViPR, jump into your ready position while lifting and carrying ViPR and then engage your opponent in a pressing ward (external resistance against a fixed object). Repeat for more FUN!

Grab ViPR in the offset hold in the prone position. Perform a tandem lift and row like you are trying to tear ViPR away from your opponent. This can also be used as a controlled rowing exercise.

The object of the game is for one person to carry ViPR while trying to attack the standing ViPR. The opponent’s job is to protect that ViPR and not allow their opponent to reach the standing ViPR. 

Certain people will prefer certain types of play. The most fun type of play is the one you prefer. I have briefly explained different forms of play for you and your friends, family and clients. Please share other ideas that you have come up with. Remember that we all have a right to play. I am extremely proud to have had the ability to play as a child and I continue to play every day. Play connects us, and it transcends us. Thank you to ViPR and FitPro for allowing me to share my love for play.

Yours in health and happiness

John Sinclair