||Physical Intelligence is an expression of the whole organism, moving, breathing and sensing, in constant interaction with its environment. Unfortunately, many common forms of exercise greatly limit the richness of our experience of movement. Does a typical approach to conditioning such as doing “dips,” prepare us, or offer the range of physical fitness and learning as climbing a tree or over a wall? What is the difference between lifting weights and wearing, for example, a weighted suit while running, jumping, etc.? This week we explored familiar forms of exercise, eg, free weights, sit-ups, push-ups, dips along with common exercise machines with an eye toward increasing their Physical Intelligence Quotient (PIQ). For comparative reference we simultaneously explored:
• A Pilates machine, which allows a user to activate core muscles in response to pressure/tension exerted by the feet and hands--a closer approximation to actual experience.
• A “water-rower,” which better simulates the experience of rowing by means of a water-filled resistance wheel.
• The “Gait Shoe,” running shoes developed in the MIT Media Lab, equipped with special sensors to give feedback on various aspects of gait.
After a brief discussion contrasting the benefits and drawbacks of the various exercise forms, student pairs were given fifteen minutes to draw sketches of modifications to a stationary bicycle that would increase its “P IQ.” Some exciting innovations included several systems for varying the bike’s balance and a virtual reality system that would change the terrain by means of pistons in synch with the changing visual scene. Once we begin exploring concepts and practices of exercise to meet the needs of physical intelligence, possibilities abound.
The second half of class involved progress reports on thesis projects that the engineering of final working models could begin next week.