I have been in the health and fitness industry for a long time. I have evolved and grown in many ways. Some things I have abandoned and other things have stood the test of time.
One thing that has really stood the test of time is my advice on fitness classes.
When I set-up a program with a client, activities outside of the structured workouts are always a part of the plan. Most clients are already a participant in something when they come to me. There have been recreational runners, hikers, bikers, climbers, walkers, fitness class enthusiasts, those that mix it up and serious athletes.
All of these activities require a solid foundation of functional movement patterns, but, today’s focus is on fitness classes.
I have spent the majority of my career being the Debbie Downer on fitness classes. Clients would excitedly tell me about the new class they found and then I would proceed to tell them what was wrong with that class.
I know. I sound like an asshole.
I had good intentions and it never made me feel good to watch excitement get the wind knocked out of it, so hear me out.
My background is in physical therapy. My entire reason for wanting to be in the health and fitness field is to help people prevent insidious aches and pains and to be able to move awesome and feel good doing the stuff they love for the rest of their lives. Also note, most people don’t move awesome unless they are working on it consistently every single day.
Fitness classes require high repetitions or long-held postures. Most people do not have a solid enough foundation of healthy human movement. People don’t know that they don’t move well enough and neither do most instructors. If they did, they wouldn’t have time to notice you because they are too busy demonstrating and leading the class. Plain and simple, this leads to strengthening movement patterns that are not healthy.
And, I am sorry, but, no, the instructor occasionally coming by to straighten your posture or tell you to press your back down to the mat is not making it any better.
Let’s not forget that a lot of the moves are a bad idea even for people with a solid foundation.
In my early days, I worked in a health club and a lot of my clientele attended the classes. I found myself having to correct those clients on movement more often. More than a few came to me because they had gotten injured or started having pain in their classes. A day a week working on building a solid foundation of healthy movement cannot compete with training dysfunctional movement patterns over and over. Consistency wins.
I told people to quit their classes.
Do you know what I learned? People were deeply and emotionally attached to fitness classes like athletes were attached to their sport. I felt like the devil, but, it was what was best. Was it not?
Not if I truly wanted to help people.
I evolved to teaching people that they need to train for their classes as an athlete trains for their sport. We worked on a solid foundation that allowed them to participate while preventing injuries and addressing any pain that would come up. I created what I call the Daily Essential 8 for them to do on their own in 10 minutes a day and kept their workouts with me simple and effective. The time investment was much less than most expected.
This was helping people. People could continue to enjoy classes.
At first, I was worried about losing clients to the fun and community they were getting out of the classes. Today, I know my clients like our sessions because I am there to irritate them with my cues to make every single rep count toward their progress. They like it when I explain the importance of the quality of movement of the last rep. They like being reminded that their brain is going to remember the last thing they do. They like going away feeling better, not beaten up.
They don’t come to me to be entertained. They come to me so that the things they do for entertainment don’t cause pain and so that they can do whatever they want with their body and feel good for the rest of their life.
Classes entertain you, they don’t train you. They let you check out which is one of the big draws to them. I totally get it. I recently started sampling popular classes so I could understand the attachment to them. More on this later.
Don’t give up the classes you love. Upgrade the priority of building a solid foundation of better movement so that you can enjoy them without the increased risk of pain and injury being in your future. Get your movement assessed. Prioritize moving better over moving more.
Humans Move is launching soon. There will be a unique opportunity to jump in as a founding member at a very discounted rate. It can be done 100% online, though there will be some in-person opportunities. You don’t have to be local to participate. It will be a limited number that I can take on in this initial 60-day program. Applications coming soon. Comment below if you want to be emailed or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org