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Slowing Down

13 May 2009

I recently read Carl Honoré’s book In Praise of Slowness. I got it from the library after reading an article about his most recent book, on raising an unhurried child (Slow Childhood). *

In Praise of Slowness is an introduction to the variety of ways to implement slowness in everyday life. There is, of course, the very famous Slow Food Movement, and a recent graphic by the folks at the New York Times’ Economix blog shows the clear relationship between eating quickly and obesity rates. But Honoré also introduces us to slow cities, slow medicine, slow sex (Sting and Tantric sex, anyone?), slow work, slow leisure (we’re definitely losing the ability to enjoy slow rest in our culture), slow children, and, believe it or not, slow exercise.

The SuperSlow method of exercise is becoming very popular (so they say, I had never heard of it before this book). Instead of doing more and more reps to build muscle and strength, you do very few repetitions (a maximum of 6) with as heavy a weight as will get you to exhaustion. The trick? Each repetition takes you 10 seconds on the way up, and 10 seconds on the way down. If it doesn’t sound as revolutionary as it is, stand up right now and do a bicep curl in 20 seconds. Go ahead.

Twenty seconds is LONG, isn’t it? And it gives you such a deep muscle work-out that 20 minutes once or twice a week is all you should do. I was curious enough about this SuperSlow method of training that I got two more books out from the library: Fredrik Hahn’s The Slow Burn Fitness Revolution and Adam Zickerman’s Power of 10. In the end, I like the home routine options from Hahn’s book better, but Zickerman’s book is a hoot to read (and I don’t normally read exercise books for fun).

I think using SuperSlow routines would be useful in the summer. First, it gets hot here, even with AC, and so a workout that you do twice a week for 20 minutes each time sounds good. Also, we’ll be traveling around the southwest for two weeks at the end of June, and again, I think I could incorporate two workouts per week much more easily than the 4-5 30-minute workouts I am currently doing at home.

Has anyone had experience doing SuperSlow? I’d love to get feedback from real people, above and beyond all the praise sucessful superslow-ers offered for these two books. Let me know!

*Of course, at almost 13 and almost 15, my girls are beyond whatever childhood years of influence are prime for slow childhood — but I think we ended up providing them with a much slower childhood than some people (one of Impera’s friends took dance classes almost every day, with competitions filling up most weekends; as well as Girl Scouts, sports, etc.). Our girls were never so booked that they had no time to just wander in the yard and “hang out”. During their elementary school years, they were involved in Girl Scouts and fencing; an art class here or there; two weeks of summer camp of one sort or another; and that’s mostly it. That left plenty of time for stories, creative open-ended play, and boredom (learning how to get oneself out of boredom is an important skill to develop, in my opinion).

8 Comments leave one →
  1. 13 May 2009 7:53 pm

    My husband has been following an exercise routine along those lines for about 15 months, though I don’t think he calls it by that name. (His motivation: getting cast as one of the six leads in our local theater’s production of The Full Monty.) His starting point for this was information posted on Tim Ferris’s blog (, though he is by no means following it to the letter.

    He’s not interested in bulking up to Hulk proportions (and, as a vegetarian, would find it hard to get the required amount of protein from regular food sources), but he did drop about 40 pounds of fat, some of which was replaced with muscle. He spends less than 90 minutes a week exercising (and that’s spread out over four days, I think), mostly follows a slow-carb diet (though now that he’s reached where he wants to be, he’s relaxed that a lot–and he still has an eat-anything-he-wants day once a week), and he feels great. At his last physical, our doctor was very impressed and gave him a big thumbs-up.

  2. 14 May 2009 10:07 am

    My husband and I own a small fitness studio in Redwood City, CA where we exclusively use a superslow method we have named SafeStrength®. If you visit our web site’s testimonials page, you will see real people’s experiences using this slow motion method of strength training.

    My own experience is that it literally saved my life. You can read about that on my blog, in particular the Dec. 7, 2007 entry called “Turning 60”.

    Thanks for bringing this safe and very effective method to people’s attention.

  3. 14 May 2009 2:49 pm

    I was ahead of this…I wrote an article for the Dayton Daily News way back when on the trends in early childhood ed to teach your pre-school children to read, etc. and how harmful that was (as opposed to play-based learning).

    Now it’s pretty accepted in most early childhood programs (in the US, anyway–not so much here) that pen and paper tasks are bad for young children.

    As for slow exercise, isn’t that called yoga?

  4. 15 May 2009 7:22 am

    I am the opposite of slow. I am the double opposite of super-slow. That’s why I’m always banging into things.

  5. Peaceable Imperatrix permalink*
    15 May 2009 9:22 am

    Marsha, I may have some questions for Jan. Sounds like it has worked very well for him!

    Taru, thanks for the info, I will try to check out your blog this weekend.

    Kathy, there’s much to Waldorf schooling that makes sense. Especially the idea of not pushing “academics” on kids too early.

    Ellie, “the double opposite of sluper-slow”: 🙂

  6. 16 May 2009 6:43 am

    I have fell off the yoga train. I am waiting for the next one.

  7. Peaceable Imperatrix permalink*
    16 May 2009 9:11 am

    Oh, no! I hope the next one comes along soon — you were enjoying yoga so much.

  8. 21 May 2009 5:07 am

    The 2009 One Local Summer challenge begins on June 1 – I hope you’re able to join us again this year!

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