Don’t worry about working out: Just get up, and keep moving

The Movement Movement: ‘Functional fitness’ is not exercise, but it is healthy and, these experts say, essential.

THE THRESHOLD OF Katy Bowman’s house in Sequim might startle you — and your feet. Just inside the front door, a chunk of wood flooring has been removed and filled with loose rocks of varying size. To enter, you take off your shoes and walk over the lumpy surface.

If you’re skittish, you might be tempted to leap. If you know and practice Bowman’s work, you might stroll across, happy to stretch your feet. Or if, like me, you are new to walking on texture, you wince slightly.

Bowman’s house can be fun, or challenging, depending on your perspective. The living room has no couch — sit on the floor on the soft rugs, squat or perch on the bench if your hips and ankles aren’t ready (yet) for the floor. Wander into the playroom, and grab on to monkey bars. In the backyard, choose from sky-blue aerial silks; TRX straps; or a ladder strung between two trees, where you can hone your bat sensibilities and crawl across while hanging upside down.

Parkour instructor Rafe Kelley found his own heroic journey, like the ones he read about in literature, through a career working with others on extreme movement. (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

The setup reflects Bowman’s approach to movement and the body, sharpened from her years as a biomechanist. She says her house gives people permission: “You are free to move here.”

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In the world of fitness, functional fitness — being strong enough to carry your kids and groceries — has taken hold. Of course we want to be strong! So we swing kettlebells, do pullups and sprints, and release with foam rollers.

But the Northwest is home to experts advocating a deeper understanding of what movement can be. They want to know what motivates you to move, and they are interested in illuminating why so many…

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