Bonnie Prudden headshot - Desert Leaf, Tucson, AZBONNIE WAS KNOWN to quip during her public lectures, something like:

”Doctors don’t know anything about three things: exercise, nutrition, and sex. And the last time they saw a muscle was in first year medical school and it was dead.”

All very true – and if you hadn’t been paying attention before you were paying attention now, because what might she say next?! Her often seemingly outrageous statements were true and left an indelible picture in your mind. About overweight children:

“Check out what’s in strollers at the mall. They’re big enough to push their mothers.”

In her testimony before the U.S. Senate in 1985, she said about the average baby:

“What happens today is a kid is born, goes home, gets into a crib. They take it out in the morning, unwrap it, wrap it up again, wash it, stick it into clean clothes, put it in a high-chair, stuff it full of food, put it on a toity-seat, where it sits another 20 minutes… little different expression… out of the toity-seat and into the baby carriage and out into the fresh air which you cannot find. It comes home at noon, is unwrapped, wrapped again, stuffed into bed, and you hope it will sleep until 3. At 3 o’clock, it comes out of there and goes into the stroller… And at the end of the day it hasn’t done anything that an 80 year old man with arthritis couldn’t do better.”

About aerobics she said, “We’ve ruined our bodies to save our chassis.” And about spas she said, “Owning a spa does not mean knowing about the human body.”

Bonnie deplored the state of our education, including Physical Education. She said:

“History is made today and paid for tomorrow, and because this is true, we’d better take a good long look at what we the people of our times plus educators, the government, and medical community are up to.”

“Those in charge of children’s physical bodies abdicated circa 1930,” she said. When we cut back because of the war, male educators made more room for men on the basketball courts and male medicos decreed that female bodies couldn’t endure physical activity.

Bonnie felt that fitness should start at birth with a few minutes of meaningful exercise along with each diaper change. She felt that women were the key to fitness – and that if the 13 year old was taught the importance of and how to exercise a baby, she would take that same care with her own child.

To this end she introduced Fitness from the Cradle in a landmark Sports Illustrated 1960 series with the help of baby René. She followed this with her book How to Keep Your Child Fit from Birth to Six. Then in 1971, New York University’s two year college in Cobleskill instituted a trailblazing course worked out for them by Bonnie Prudden, in which 123 young women in the nursery education program spent four hours a week learning:

  1. How to teach physical activity to nursery schoolers;
  2. How to evaluate the strength and flexibility of the youngsters’ key posture muscles; and
  3. How to correct the weaknesses.

The children at this lab school “worked.” Children who are physically fit are happy, healthy relaxed children who eat and sleep well and are a delight to have around. When a child moves he feels good, and when he feels good you cannot stop him from moving.

Following her report to President Eisenhower in 1955 at a White House luncheon on the Unfitness of American children as compared with their peers in Europe, Bonnie, Dr. Kraus and the Kraus-Weber Test which was used to determine the fitness levels, were called un-American, stupid and unpatriotic by the medicos, educators and politicians… So here we are almost 60 years later with the epidemic evidence of the truth of that report: obesity, low back pain, coronary heart disease, diabetes, mental health issues.

“Teach by example. We have no leaders, starting way up there, in the teacher’s colleges.”

It wasn’t until fairly recently that nutrition was a part of the teacher college curriculum. Physical fitness is still not a part of the program. Until we teach teachers, our elementary school children and therefore our population will be unfit.

“Theory is nice. Theory does not make healthy kids. Discussions lead nowhere with children.”

Unfitness starts in playpens, strollers and car seats. There is a car ad out now that says, “She grew up in the back seat of the car.” The ad is touting that the car lasts a long time. However, the statement is a truism – no matter what the ad execs meant.

No one is going to do it for us. It really is up to each of us to take care of ourselves and those we love. The body you have is the only thing that is truly yours. Listen to it. What are you doing with what you have been given?

“Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being
while movement and methodical physical exercise preserve it.” —Plato 380 B.C.

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For more information about Bonnie Prudden®, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®, workshops, books, self-help tools, DVDs, educational videos, and blogs, visit www.bonnieprudden.com. Or call 520-529-3979 if you have questions or need help.

Enid Whittaker, Managing Director, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy