Get Your Hands in Shape

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Full disclosure: I'm a body nerd.

As a personal trainer and fitness instructor, I get to geek out daily helping people connect to that thing they've been carrying around with them their whole lives: their body.

I've lived in New York, Los Angeles, and now, I call the Bay Area home. There are universal body problems to be sure, but there are also regional patterns that afflict us.

In New York the residents are riddled with neck and shoulder issues. In LA the 405 and the 10 leave a lasting impression on people's hips, and in the Bay Area?

Well, we don't seem to be able to use our wrists or hands anymore.


As a new teacher here, I was shocked to see how many students couldn't come onto their hands and knees for exercises. Imagine 2 cast members of Silicon Valley staring back at you, holding up their hands, and mouthing, "Is there something else I can do?" That's my life.

I asked a long-time Bay Area instructor about it, "Oh, yeah," she said, "You have to offer alternatives in every class here. It's a real thing." Yes, Bay Area, this is a Very. Real. Thing.

Katy Bowman, an esteemed biomechanist, describes how our physically passive and highly repetitive lifestyles are cultivating new diseases in the human race. The Bay Area is full of progressive ideas and active lifestyles, but we also seem to sit - typing and texting - at the vanguard of a tragic pathology: one that inhibits the full use of our hands.

I had a dance teacher in college who waxed poetic about our hands. "Our hands," he would bellow, "are what make us human!"

At the time, I rolled my eyes- but now? When I look at my students, unable to use the very same opposable thumbs that got us here...I get it. Our hands are what make us human. We need to stretch, massage and strengthen those very same extremities that allowed us to crawl, clasp, and climb our way through this world. In our feverish desire to succeed, and curate our lives, please: Let's respect and preserve what got us here -our hands.

Want to shake on it?

Patty Wortham lives on a sailboat in Alameda.