Temple Dancer or Viking - What Archetype are YOU?

by:  Nicole Detellis, CFFT


Imagine, standing before you a Viking.  Strong, athletic in build, dense, tight, stable, maybe one who looks like they’d be well equipped to handle the arctic climate.

And now imagine standing before you a temple dancer.   Soft, flexible, loose, mobile and maybe one who’d look like they’d be well equipped to handle the warmer climates.

Now take a moment to look at yourself in a mirror - go ahead, no one is looking (but YOU!).  If you don’t have a mirror just look at your arms, legs, body.  Does your body look strong and stable?  Or maybe you are of the softer, looser variety?   Walk around a bit….do you feel strong and stable in your steps but maybe your movements seem stiff?  Or maybe as you walk you feel fluidity in your movements, maybe you are super bendy?

Ok, now what does that mean to you?  Each one of us is born within the realm of these two Archetypes - Viking and Temple Dancer, and the way you train your body depends on where you fall within these Archetypes.  

Regardless of how active you are - you are a mover of space and when you move your body, you are moving more than your muscles and skeletal system.  You are moving one of the most vital networks in your body, your connective tissue also known as your fascia.  




Simply put, your fascia is the tensegrity structure of the human body made up of fibers, elastin and collagen.  Think of it as a body stocking - a seamless piece of (connective) tissue that can be found in almost every nook and cranny of your body.  This seamless network attaches, stabilizes, encloses and separates muscles, bones, nerves, blood vessels and internal organs.  It provides a foundation for each part of the body as well orientation for the body as a whole, literally helping to organizing the body and create its shape.  Recall the last time you went camping and you began to set up your tent.  At first, all of the tent structures are laid out on the ground individually…it isn’t until you begin to add the poles, ropes and stakes (holding the tent in place) that you then have a tent structure…..a tensegrity system!  One that has tension and compression!  It’s the same with your fascia!




Until quite recently, fascia was overlooked in the medical field…although they knew the structure existed, most surgeons and scientists just cut through it and/or discarded it as simply packing material in the body that had no other use.  

Fortunately, researchers like Dr. Robert Schleip (Fascial Fitness Association ) and Tom Myers (Anatomy Trains) and a few others found that this remarkable fascial network is a highly complex,  multi-dimensional tissue— providing us a with a communicative sensory system like no other!



Ok, so what does this all mean to YOU and the way you train/move your body?  If your body Archetype is that of a Viking does that mean that you’ll never be flexible? Or if you are more the Temple Dancer type will you never be strong?  Remember we are NOT necessarily working with muscle strength or personality type but rather your fascial body!

I’m here to tell you that ideally Vikings and Temple Dancer bodies require different types of training and focus to maintain a healthy, injury free body.  

Viking Archetypes have denser fascia that is less elastic.  Because of this, Vikings need to create more flexibility and should focus their training more on lower loading (lower weights), in the long end range of movement (or stretch position)- instead of focusing on the contraction or flexion, focus more on the extension.  Super - slow stretch releasing techniques like the melting stretches of down-dog and using release techniques like foam rollers (again SUPER SLOW MOVEMENTS) will help Vikings become more supple and elastic in their movements. 

Temple Dancer Archetypes have looser, more elastic fascia.  Because of this, Temple Dancers need to create more stability and can achieve this with strength work by using moderate load (slightly heaver weight) in the contracted, end-range stretch position (starting low and progressing slowly works best).  These types of movements maintain length and tone at the same time.  Because Temple Dancers can lean more towards being hyper-mobile it is important NOT to go into what you may consider your full range of motion, but to stop before and work with a moderate load within that range.   

Whether your a Viking or a Temple Dancer, it is important to bring awareness into each movement.  This will help to create a more balanced body.  

Lastly, regardless whether you are a Viking a Temple Dancer or somewhere in between - embrace who you are!  Work within your range and ability, use variation in your movements and most of all HAVE FUN!



Please note that it IS possible to be somewhere in between a Temple Dancer and a Viking.  In this case your Archetype would be average.  However, most people will lean more towards one or the other.