22 jul

[En] A Revolution in Physical Training

Imagine a form of exercise or physical activity that makes you jump out of bed motivated and excited at 6:00 a.m. Your heart beats fast in eager anticipation of once again experiencing something so gratifying and stimulating.

Actually, you’re totally addicted to this activity because it is utterly fun. The high that comes from the experience has led you to develop a powerful and uncontrollable physical dependence on the rush of adrenaline hormones.

Surfers can fully identify with what I just described. In fact, I gladly admit to having woken up on more than one occasion at 6:00 a.m., braving the bitter morning air and ice-cold waters to catch some waves. Bearing in mind what I just told you, do you believe waking up for this type of exercise requires effort or will power? Nope, neither. In fact, we surfers eagerly look forward to repeating this pleasurable experience as soon as possible.

So how does science explain the difficulty we face in sticking to an exercise plan or physical activity? Science claims that humans, like all animals, will move only if prompted by one of three stimuli: food, sex, or fleeing from predators.

Our bodies are always trying to save energy. So, any physical activity that does not include one of the stimuli mentioned above is seemingly not natural or instinctive to humans. This would explain why we shi from exercise. But if we dig just below the surface, it’s pretty clear where this theory falls short.

They forgot to include “playing” in the list of stimuli. Even adult animals like felines, primates, dolphins, and elephants spend hours each day engaging in play and, when they do, the last thing they’re concerned about is saving energy.

Human adults also need playful and pleasurable activities. For a great many people, the only activities they see as fun and relaxing are those associated with consuming alcoholic beverages and going out at night. But, playing is essential for humans; after all, to play is to celebrate life, to be intensely alive in the truest sense of the word. To play is to be in the flow, which is what allows us to return to and reconnect with ourselves and with the world around us.

And playing, that is discovering pleasure in exploring the body and its possibilities, offers huge cognitive rewards as well. This translates to greater concentration, intelligence, focus, emotional control, flexibility, sympathy, and assertiveness. Exercise that is essentially recreational and game-like stimulates an understanding of the self, invites us to explore and develop our cognitive and motor skills, and pushes us to be more creative.

When exercise is play, it ceases to be yet another activity linked to some future award like weight loss or getting buff. Playing is simultaneously both the goal and the reward. My personal experience reaffirms this: if physical activity is not stimulating and meaningful, people will have a hard time sticking to a training schedule regardless of the promised results.

And that is how training can become the most enjoyable part of your day and can once and for all help ensure regularity, build awareness, and anchor commitment.

Designing exercise and physical activity in such a way that is balanced, amusing, and pleasurable would drive a complete shift in the physical-fitness market in the coming decades. According to my research, the “no pain, no gain” model is contraindicated for 90% of the population, which is the total of all people who do not exercise regularly, who are not attracted to intense/extreme sports or who are sedentary, obese, overweight or elderly. For this vast majority, the combination of limited muscle mass and joints maladapted to physical activity translates to a high risk of injury at the first attempt to pursue any high-intensity activity.


Our Modern Lifestyle Is Making Us Sick

Children and adolescents currently spend an average of eight to twelve hours a day relatively stationary –sitting either in the classroom or in front of a TV, cell phone, or computer screen. If we do not come up with intensely fun, well-balanced, and engaging physical activities and exercises to rival the addictive lure of electronics, the future of humanity is at risk. Our future will be one that consists of increasingly fatter and sicker individuals.

Developing fun and stimulating training alternatives may prove to be an excellent exit strategy from this scary future for both children and adults. Whenever we experience something pleasant and pleasurable, we endeavor to replicate it; and when we experience something disagreeable and painful, we try to avoid it, even if we do so unconsciously.

Moving the body by engaging in a fun pleasurable activity ceases to feel like an obligation (synonym for something boring) and actually becomes a moment of relaxation and recreation – just like a kid who surrenders fully to whatever their playing, utterly oblivious to when it’s time to stop.

My wife Carol had a very interesting and eye-opening experience in precisely this vein. We were at a playground with our four-year-old daughter, and both my wife and daughter decided to scramble up the jungle gym together. A little boy came up behind my wife and asked, surprised, “Why did you come up here?”

“To play,” she replied.

“You play?” The boy said, taken aback.

“Of course I play. Isn’t it fun to play?”

“I love playing,” the boy answered, still perplexed.

Moments later, the boy screamed to his seven-year-old sister nearby, “Look at that, Isabel, a grown-up who plays. Isn’t that amazing?”

I dream that, in the not-too-distant future, your trainer, instructor, or PE teacher will not say “let’s train” (translation: “let’s suffer”) but will invitingly and enticingly say “let’s play.”

“The world’s a playground. You know that when you are a kid, but somewhere along the way everyone forgets it.”
~ Zooey Deschanel



Nuno Cobra Júnior is an integral training consultant and integrative health specialist. He has been teaching the Cobra Method since 1984

Alongside his father, Nuno Cobra Sr., one of Brazil’s most renowned physical and mental coaches, he coached the legendary racing driver Ayrton Senna and numerous professional tennis players. He lived in England to physically and mentally train F3 racing drivers Rubens Barrichello and Pedro Paulo Diniz. 

The Cobra Method has been used to train well succeed professionals in over ten different sports, helping to bring to Brazil seven world titles in sports like basketball, karate, surf and motorsport.

For the last 40 years, Nuno Cobra Jr. has devoted himself to studying quality of life and human behavior and is widely regarded as a leading specialist in habit changes and integrative health. He currently designs physical and mental training programs for a number of business leaders and athletes, including pro surfer Italo Ferreira, world champion and Olympic gold medal.

With the publication of The Muscle of the Soul: The Key to Physical Wisdom, Nuno Cobra Jr. established himself as one of the primary spokespersons for the sweeping makeover of physical training as we know it. He is the founder of a new method that applies a combination of Eastern and Western philosophy, psychology, and wisdom from other fields and cultures to our knowledge and understanding of the body.

The Cobra method is a pioneer in bringing philosophy to physical training in a profound way, creating dozens of concepts that guide conscious professionals, through a transdisciplinary and truly integrative approach.