Delmar Davis is an Improv Cincinnati mentor, student, performer, and accompanist. He's also a Zen Buddhist teacher, former HR executive, acclaimed jazz guitarist, and much more. Delmar has contributed more to IC's development than we can ever hope to repay. When he wrote a blog post about his experience with improv for his own company, Easing in Fitness, we figured the least we could do was to re-post it. Here it is:
Improv(e) Your Health - by Delmar Davis, Easing in Fitness
Here is a belief I continue to see both culturally and in the minds of clients, no matter how much proselytizing I do about the Easing In Fitness principles: to get healthy and well requires work and hardship. It’s the old “no pain, no gain” thing. But I’ve found more evidence for how this truism need not be true.
Last year when I started sharing the Easing In Fitness approach with the wide world beyond one-to-one client contact, I realized public speaking and video were going to be important media. And although I had years of experience making presentations, facilitating meetings, and delivering training, my performance on camera was flat. Okay, it was worse than flat, as in total-body-cringe bad.
I sought help from a coach who proclaimed, “Delmar, get thee to an improv comedy class!” My coach said that if I could be comfortable in front of people in that medium, pretty much everything else would be cake.
So with some trepidation I did. A little over a year ago I signed on for a Level 1 class at Improv Cincinnati. I thought it would be work and would involve discomfort, but I did it anyway to serve my goals. No pain, no gain, right?
And I was bitten by the improv bug. While this post is not a blog-fo-mercial for practicing improv in general or at Improv Cincinnati in particular, I will say that discovering the culture of positivity and the sense of community created by founders Jon Ulrich and Colin Thornton has been a true joy. I planned on enduring a couple classes for my professional growth, but ended up somehow doubling up on my training, taking a role as musical accompanist, and joining a performance team. And I’ve made great friends among the creative, talented, beautiful weirdniks who find fun in doing adult make-believe.
Like I said, I got bit.
And it became yet another reference point for how pain is not necessary for gain.
Just to be clear, we develop strength and resources in response to challenge. Muscles and bones only strengthen in response to being taxed beyond their current capacity. Hearts and lungs only get more efficient in response to being asked to approach their limits. Bodies only learn to move with more fluidity and flexibility by engaging in clumsy and awkward new movements.
And we only get more comfortable performing in front of people by getting up in front of people and doing ridiculous things. Which, by the way, I did. Studying improv has vastly improved my performance and comfort in front of a camera. Check.
Here’s the icing on the cake, however, that improv reinforced for me: the challenge itself can be fun. We can create a safe and fun environment such that when we are operating outside of our capabilities and are taxing our resources such that they will grow, we are still having a blast. The challenge itself can be fun and feel good, and we still get to keep and enjoy all the resulting benefits.
Oh yeah, and one other thing: laughter is good for your health. Really good. Do it as often as possible.
Scene! (That’s improv-speak for “The End.”)
Easing In Fitness Principle #1: Fun, feel-good fitness. You can love the results of exercise AND the challenge itself.
Together, let’s end the fight to get fit!
Delmar is a life coach who specializes in helping people remove obstacles to getting started and sticking with their fitness or wellness plan. Find out more at easingin.com.