Boise athlete takes life and health in a stride
STORY AND PHOTOS BY JAMIE HUDSON
You don’t know how to walk. Does that seem like an outrageous statement? Walking with a strut has often been viewed in a negative light, seen as cocky or attention-seeking, but in fact, a confident swagger might be exactly what you need to improve your health, according to Kevin Everett of Motion Quotient (MQ).
Everett, a certified life & wellness coach and former professional triathlete, notes that un-learning the poor walking habits instilled by our society can lead to a stronger body and better health. He has spent the past seven years studying people’s gait to find the “perfect walk.”
“We tend to think that being healthy is a lot of hard work and not so much fun, and we overlook something as simple as walking. When you dive into how you walk—ask yourself, ‘can I do it better?’—you tap into a vast world of health resources,” Everett explained to me as we sat on his porch in the North End on a brisk Wednesday afternoon.
It can be difficult or uncomfortable to challenge previously held beliefs, but Everett encourages us to use our desire to improve our health as an opportunity for growth, understanding, and bringing back our swagger.
Everett believes that modifying the way we walk has the power to help build strength, recover from injury, induce sleep, wake us up, and improve health based on conscious intent. Learning how to walk correctly can also improve sports performance and could be implemented as part of regular training.
Because walking correctly concentrates on the use of fascia more than muscle, this important exercise saves energy and allows for more endurance as well as protecting against injuries. Fascia is connective tissue that covers bones, organs, muscles and more, holding them in place. It stretches with your movements, and keeping it stretched and strong while using good posture reduces the likeliness of injury and pain. His forty years combined experience coaching swimming and triathlon helped fuel his desire to help athletes and the public alike. Everett believes even the strongest athletes in the world should be utilizing good walking for balance, both mentally and physically.
As a former professional triathlete from 2005-2015, Everett discovered that running was his weakness and he suffered injuries and IT band issues. At 40, he retired from triathlons
but is now a happier and more successful runner than he ever was in his top triathlon shape. Re-learning how to walk has changed his understanding of how to run. He is a two-time winner of Robie Creek Master’s Division (over 40) as a direct result of walking better. Today as a recreational runner, he can knock the socks off those who are running in their 20’s and 30’s. He no longer incurs injury from running, enjoys it more, and finds it meditative.
From this experience, Everett began his quest to find the “perfect” walk. Everett is a slower walker than his wife. He thought his wife was always in a rush but came to realize she walked better than he did. As he changed how he walked, he noticed he was sore despite the fact it was not more difficult but due to using fascia more than muscles. Everett discovered that learning to walk correctly can prevent back, knee, ankle, hip, and other injuries and it is well worth the time and effort.
When he started walking differently, he believed others would think he looked odd. Self-consciousness can hamper people’s ability to walk correctly. However, when I watched him coach a client to change their walk from stiff to correct, they did not look silly at all but rather more confident and efficient in stride. Because there is a lot of un-learning involved due to decades of walking incorrectly, it typically takes Everett’s clients at least three sessions to see distinct improvement. As this process is very individual, Everett goes at the client’s pace based on their motivation and goals.
When describing a good walk, Everett explains how the body should resemble a pendulum swing, connecting the fascia, a singular movement from pinky finger to pinky toe – the motion you’re looking for that can help improve your walk.
We have been taught to keep our core strong, choose targeted movements, to keep our body far more rigid than we should. He argues that while these things can be valuable in strength training, it is not how we should walk. Kids seem to walk well from ages 2-6, but once they enter school, the amount of sitting seems to impact their ability to walk well. As adults, we may continue this trend of sitting for hours a day with desk jobs. Rather than relying on the limbs with a stiff, constrained posture, we must rotate the body as we walk, swinging the pendulums off the spine.
Everett believes when you align your motions with elegant timing and balance, it also assists with aligning your mind and spirit. Additionally, when you take care of your health, you are taking care of yourself so you can take care of others.
Everett wants to get community involvement in walking because people overlook the importance of how they walk. Through transformative stories, he hopes to reach a wider group of people and influence locals to spread the word and improve health in our area. Creating a movement of appreciation for walking and not just sitting all day is so important. Our current culture forces large numbers of us to sit for many hours a day, and Everett strives to emphasize the physical and mental health benefits of walking with correct form.
“When I first started working with Kevin, I was burned out from over 25 years of training and racing. I had been to World’s in age group Olympic distance triathlons a couple years prior, and I was convinced I could still do better. My drive to compete well for a couple decades was taking a toll on my physical health. You can’t keep burning hard in life and not expect something to eventually break. Like all non-professional triathletes, I had a life that needed time and energy. I am a physician in a relatively high stress area of medicine that requires that I go to work alert and able to respond to a medical crisis. I have a wife and 3 children that deserve my attention and energy as well. …there is always a limit and a price to be paid when one gets spread too thin.
Kevin’s greatest attribute was helping me remember that successful competitive outcomes are not the end game. The real success comes from making sure that the process justifies the time and energy. He taught me how to move more efficiently with his walking to running techniques and I can pass people just by engaging my hips without tapping into any extra energy. He is definitely on to something with his understanding of body mechanics and walking. But where he really shines is his understanding about how to approach life. He is consistently gentle and present with the people around him…and present when training. The result is a process that does not detract from your life, but rather adds to your life.”
-Kirk Miller MD
If Everett lived in another city that was not walking-friendly, he would not have had the opportunity to make these discoveries. Living in the North End draws him out, and the neighborhood is so great for walking that there is rarely a day he cannot get outside to exercise. He calls the Greenbelt one of the treasures of Boise and hopes they continue to protect and expand it for future generations.
Everett’s goal is for Boise to start a “walking movement” that will spread to other cities across the country and the world. His love for the community is so apparent, and he really wants to see us strut our stuff in a healthy way that makes others take notice and admire what a vibrant, fabulous place Boise is to live. Everett hopes to build partnerships with local chiropractors, physical therapists, and massage therapists to help create a healthier community.
If you want to take your walk to the next level, a one-hour coaching session starts at $100. Everett offers one-on-one appointments as well as group opportunities. You can contact him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: 208-284-1337. Taking this first step may lead you to better health.