My Evolution as a Trainer

Posted: May 4, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

At my facility we have changed how we do things quite a bit in a short amount of time. This made people raise questions and scared some away. I feel it is necessary to explain my evolution as a strength coach and help people understand why these changes have been made.
I started my career in this field about 6 years ago with a typical self-study certification. These certifications preach simple exercises for all muscle groups. I loved it right off the bat and decided to attend NPTI, a 500 hour program with hands on experience as well as classroom lectures on basic anatomy and exercise physiology. This broke the body up into isolated segments and gave information on how to increase physiological components of the human body through exercise. Both are important, but missing a huge piece, functional human movement.
I was getting bored with my workouts and so were my clients. This is where I stumbled upon Crossfit. I drank the Kool-Aid for Crossfit right away. The workouts were really tough so it had to be good right? Crossfit’s explanation of “constantly varied, functional movements, performed at high intensities” made sense and there explanations were logical. They said to change workouts everyday to prepare you for the dynamic quality of life, everyone squats and deadlifts on a day to day basis, and I am breathing hard and sweating so I am definitely getting a good workout in a small amount of time. Plus it is fun.
I decided to finish up my undergrad. I graduated with honors with a B.S. in health and wellness with a nutrition concentration. This was a combination of stress management, exercise science, and nutrition classes sprinkled amongst general education courses.
My degree was focused on holistic health so it was here that I was introduced to the paleo diet. General education courses are the majority of undergrad I came to realize and my knowledge on the subject matter specific to my career was minimal. Having all the different areas of focus in my degree did allow some overlap in metabolic mechanisms as well as physiology.
I soon realized my inability to answer questions and started researching more on my own. This is when I started applying the paleo diet to my life and I decided to get my Master’s degree in human movement..
In undergrad the focus of my exercise classes were on exercise physilogy. This is an explanation of the changes that can occur in the body in response to strength training and conditioning. We were taught anatomy and joint actions and a kinisieological approach to exercise. These principles are important and also further embedded my trust in the Crossfit way of doing things.
Through my grad school experience I have gained an enormous amount of information and specifically to functional human anatomy. It is one thing to know muscles and movements, but an entirely different thing to understand how they act during different human movement patterns. I have learned in a detailed manner how to assess and address poor movement quality. When we exercise or play a sport we are moving. Logically, don’t we want to move well first before anything else?
Most exercise programs claim to get you bigger, faster, and stronger. This is America and we are always looking for the quickest and easiest way to do everything. If we move poorly how big, fast, and strong can we truly get before the foundation on the house cracks?
My favorite examples in these situations are professional athletes and noncontact ACL injuries. Wes Welker a couple years ago tore is ACL just cutting with no one else around him. He may have been moving well initially, but over the course of the year I am sure he was suffering pain and minor injuries. Pain and injuries cause movement to change. This is a defense mechanism that has allowed us to escape predators in the past, but actually hinders us now. His movement patterns were probably dysfunctional due to the nagging injuries and it caused a loss of stability in his legs. Wes Welker is an elite athlete and now has all this speed, strength, and power sitting on a cracked foundation of dysfunctional movement. He plants and changes direction and now the joint gives way because it cannot withstand his ability to create force and the torn ACL occurs.
This is what is happening in gyms across America. People are getting beigger, faster, and stronger on weak foundations. This for one will limit performance and continuously increases our risk for injury? What if we have had a previous injury and do this? This is where some serious issues that can cause permanent damage can occur. Most trainers are truly there to help their clients, but there is a serious lack of education in the fitness field. Trainers get paid a lot of money to get you “in shape” and healthy and may be doing more to derail the integrity of your joints. For the amount of money training costs there should be a baseline level of education required, but this is a topic for another day. With that said they are not entirely wrong in what they are doing, but just missing a giant piece of the puzzle and if they added this piece in would have a much improved product.
Understanding these concepts I have now brought us back 6 years and began doing stuff that we should have been doing from the start. We are going to assess and address all movement dysfunction to build strong foundations. Once movement patterns are corrected we will start to add on the physiological components of strength and conditioning. This will allow us to increase performance and decrease injury risk and allow us to age gracefully instead of in a chronic state of pain. Scaling weight and just going through the motions does not improve movement. In the end it is just discouraging dysfunctional movement and speeding up the degradation of everyone’s fitness foundation. For the majority of my training career I have been going about things in an inapproriate way. I was missing a giant piece of this puzzle by not addressing proper human movement. I encourage all to get movement screened and fix any problems before taking part in any exercise program. Once the problems have been adjusted do what you have fun doing whether it is Crossfit, bootcamps, or sports. Get reassessed for movement periodically as well so any changes can be addressed. All sports cause movement problems so keep this in mind. I hope some people here this message and seek some quality help before continuing down what may be a risky path.

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Comments
  1. wendymc12 says:

    This is the blog I’ve been looking for!!! So excited I found this. My daughter is into crossfit, paleo diet, thinking about eating raw foods etc… She’s in 11th grade and is looking to either go into holistic medicine or become a wellness coach. I’m thrilled to read this to get another perspective on what interests her. i’m going to show her the blog as well, she will love it. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences.

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