Regardless of our age, gender or activity level, we all need to add play into our life. Play comes in many forms. ViPR is a spectacular tool for introducing social play and imaginative play. Both of these types of play are described in detail in the book Play – How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul.Dr. Stuart Brown
The brilliant research done by Brown and colleagues at the National Institute for Play has helped me in understanding where play comes from, why we need it and who it is for. Two of the more popular forms of play hidden in every-day life are social play and imaginative play.
Social play is quite simply belonging to a group and connecting with others in play. This can be seen at the resort club I work at in Weston, Florida every day, whether it is women playing Mahjong in the cafe or the swim team doing relays in the pool. It could also be in the spin room or the group exercise studio.
All of these environments involve a gathering of people for a common purpose to entertain in play. Some examples of social play include mirror drills and partner tandem games that you may utilize in your boot camps, group challenges such as the 60-Day Transformation Challenge we offer to our members at Midtown Athletic Club and even team-based play, such as sports, relay races, mini Olympics, and obstacle races. Social play can be either competitive or non-competitive.
Using ViPR in a social environment is easy. There are a number of different games we can create in a social environment. Tandem partner carries over obstacles on the beach, continuous flips in a relay form, warding and battle drills, and the classic mirror and shadow drills are all examples of great social play activities with ViPR.
One of my favorite things to do growing up was to imagine I was a super hero, army ranger, or favorite TV/movie character and run around town re-enacting a story. Inevitably, I was carrying some sort of tool or toy to make the fantasy seem more authentic. We consider the toy a form of object play but, in this case, we have introduced a concept of imaginative play. This can be done in a social setting, as well as on your own. Some of my happiest memories involve imagining that I am at war or being invaded by aliens. I would run around town to avoid being caught and build shelters with my brothers and friends. We would use skateboards and bicycles as our transportation devices, imagining they were tanks and armored cars, and use our replica assault rifles and handguns. If we were on the farm, we would hide in the bales of hay and build tunnels. Climbing trees and building forts, jumping off of rooftops and throwing dirt lumps as hand grenades were an every-day play experience.
We lose the ability to create as we get older. Perhaps we think it is too childish to play games and, as adults, we should be more serious. I think that is a very dangerous proposition. Since anxiety and pain are the number one cause for work-related illness today, perhaps injecting some fun back into our lives would enhance life a great deal. Once again, we need to connect to our environments. Outside, we can recreate those imaginary worlds. We can take kids and adults and unite them in fantasy, which may bring them closer together. Video games are a great example of imaginative play. Perhaps you can find a way to create some video games but to re-enact them live, outside with your friends. Some of my favorite games to play in the Beechy Arcade were Galaga, Centipede, and Frogger. What are yours? Halo? Madden Football? Hopefully not Grand Theft Auto.
Here is how you can replicate some imaginative play using ViPR.
In part three of the blog, I will cover my favorite form of play – rough and tumble – and discuss why this form of play is crucial for our motor development, as well as for the brain. We will also cover which form of play we have discussed so far works best for each different personality you may encounter and how to coach people through play.
Until then, grab your ViPR and a buddy, and get moving outside and discover what it is like to be young and free again.
Yours in health and happiness
Written by: John Sinclair
Movement Masterminds – Education Faculty
Institute of Motion – Programming Officer
PTA Global – Faculty
ViPR Master Trainer
1. Brown S, Vaughan C (2010), Play – How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, Penguin Putnam.