Gray Cook: Crossing the Midline

Gray Cook answers a question about self-limiting exercise and the full mind-body engagement that comes with crossing the midline in a good Turkish getup.

Question: What we’re hearing is looking at the neural patterns, beginning to understand to teach everybody how this isn’t just a good exercise. It’s not intended to be an exercise in itself.

Gray Cook: In and of itself, no. It demonstrates the fundamentals that are used everywhere else. There’s one element in this a lot of people missed. Doc gets this because of his background in fighting.

Making both hemispheres of your brain work together in exercise is very important. That’s why balancing is sometimes very challenging because the left and right brain enjoy working in isolation. Any time I cross the midline, I’m creating a little bit of a dilemma. One side of my brain likes to do a lot of stuff and one side doesn’t. Whenever I cross the midline, my hand leaves this visual field and goes into the other visual field. The arm actually crosses over and I have to make my right arm work over on the left side. That creates quite a bit of mental fatigue.

You’re going to find the Turkish getup—or stuff like swinging Indian clubs or paddling a standup paddleboard—produces this overall mental fatigue. Where did that come from? I just want to sit down. I’m not burning.

My arms and legs didn’t give out. I have just been totally engaged.

That’s one thing I want you to walk away from this lecture with. When we choose these self-limiting exercises—whether it’s balancing on a slackline, paddling a standup board, doing a single-leg deadlift or a Turkish getup—these are not options for you and your iPod. You need 100 percent of your attention onboard.

This is a mind-body experience where you’re going to get dialed in within a very short amount of time. If you try to watch TV or carry on a conversation while doing this, you’ll still get good at it, but you’ll never get as good as you could, because this is total engagement.

We want you to use full engagement to overcome movement dilemmas. You cross the midline numerous times in the getup—whole neural pathway concept is huge in getups. It doesn’t matter how many you do, but if you do a bad one, your brain will remember that one as easily as it does the good ones.

Precision, quality and owning each stage of the getup is much more important than how many you do and how much you lift.

This doesn’t line up with a lot of the ways that getups are used right now, but the people who brought us this brilliant move from combative arts and exercise probably didn’t use it the way we are.

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