October 26th, 2020

Training Matters: If it works, embrace it

By Medicine Hat News on October 7, 2016.

On behalf of the fitness industry I would like to apologize. We appear to have some identity issues. Are we Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons in the fluffy ankle warmers claiming that nirvana is found at the end of a sweatin’ to the oldies routine? Are we Arnold and his massive compadres showing off our impressive pipes? Are we CrossFitters burpee-ing, snatching and wall balling our way to preparing for anything? Maybe we are rehab/functional fitness types valuing strict mechanics over intensity? MMAers? Kettle bellers? P90X? Pilates? Insanity? Wait, maybe we are all yogis lengthening, strengthening and breathing our way to balance.

So who has it right?

It’s time to stop thinking about who’s right and who’s wrong, and time to embrace what fits us and our present level of functioning.

The best programs borrow from all of these approaches and then adjust to fit the needs, wants and personalities of that individual.

While most folks I know would never be caught dead in posing trunks, many of their programs are heavily influenced by the tenets of body building. In fact this is a great starting point for many novice weight trainers: the isolation machines that the body building world has developed are a great way to simplify movements and help people start to connect their brains and muscles without a lot of other things to think about.

Yes, I know that the body doesn’t move in isolation, so while the machines can be a component they don’t have all the answers. So we progress to training movement, not just muscles. This is the domain of the functional fitness proponents as they correct and analyze movements to mirror how we use the body in life and sport and avoid positions that predispose us to injury.

What if your main goal is to lose fat? Here is where we take these refined motor patterns and throw them into a metabolic workout with little rest and a bunch of cardio mixed in… like Crossfit, P90X and most classes that I teach. A risk/benefit analysis is an important underpinning to training in this fatigued state; that novice will explode if we have them doing a snatch without having good plank mechanics or shoulder mobility.

Speaking of shoulder mobility, how is your downward dog? A lot of the weak links, limitations and injuries we experience are directly related to a lack of mobility in our joints and corresponding flexibility in our muscles. Stretching should be a staple component of almost every routine. Group classes like yoga with 2,000 years of experience combine stability in certain postures with the flexibility we lack.

Speaking of classes, how much fun is it to lose yourself in the loud music, feed off the palpable energy of the group and forget you are working as hard as you are in a Zumba/Insanity/ sweatin’ to the oldies class?

Let’s face it folks, if you are bored in the fitness world you need to take off the blinders and get busy.

The diverse approaches to getting fit are as varied as the goals and personal preferences that guide us toward them. Stop judging, embrace it all and start working on a better you today.

Ed Stiles BPE, Certified Exercise Physiologist is a member of the Alberta Sport Development Centre’s Performance Enhancement Team and is the Fitness Coordinator with the City of Medicine Hat at the Family Leisure Centre. He can be reached via email at asdc@mhc.ab.ca or at ed1sti@medicinehat.ca.

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