Part 2: The Great Pause and Empowered Fitness
The Principles Of Reframing Fitness
Solutions to this cultural dogma are found in the answers to some big questions that I’m continually looking to answer; how can the body improve? I like to encourage asking bigger and better questions, ones that shed light on disturbed thinking in fitness. Rather than getting down on ourselves about the past, my intention is to explore conversations of substance on how the body can improve.
Avoiding opportunity costs and taking the time to think about your body and basic science is not normal, it’s quite the contrary. Which is why I always take time to thank my clients for taking the road less travelled. This includes educational projects to help both you and I optimize every moment we spend improving our bodies. Many things can contribute to our wellness and our physical sturdiness and I believe exercise is an opportunity to be efficient and effective at this. There are several controllable variables which is unlike other wellness modalities. Others hardly promote the autonomy that exercise does.
Gaining strength and keeping strength are completely different things. Simply showing up to a hard core spin class for a sweat and moving on with the day isn’t a bad thing, but it doesn’t hold the same weight for longevity as purposeful systematic training and intention. So… what are the right principles and how does success become embodied? How do we reroute our exercise habits for long-term gain, rather than scratching that quick-fix itch?
For the past 10 years I’ve worked as a Muscle Activation Techniques™ Master Specialist and recently attained their highest level of certification the Rx Full Body.
This work is incredible and I am so grateful to have witnessed changes in pain, movement and power that aren’t typical. By this, I mean pain levels and strength abilities change rapidly just by changing the muscles’s responsiveness. Through this work, I’ve learned the human body and it's inner workings are brilliant and I do my best to package this in fun details in my podcast, Think Fit. Be Fit. However, all the various manual therapies available can help a number of issues related to pain and slowing down our exercise but the beliefs you hold about your body are the true determinant of the outcome. The principal of self belief comes from more than confidence. When the possibilities of your abilities are made cognizant, the courage and self belief required to truly own your strength and therefore keep your strength (resilience!) through a turbulent time is attainable. Thanks for the idea Nike, but Just Do It doesn’t cut it here.
The ageist medical model is being turned upside-down by innate human intelligence capabilities. What I mean by this is that our bodies are capable of self healing. This has been a point of controversy for many years, but now science is beginning to paddle this conversation the other way with discussions about telomeres, epigenetic changes and proton structure. Like many economic behaviors that are being exposed as consumed in a culture of consumerism and greed, the fitness industry and medical institutions are no different. I don’t believe that it is controversial to say that most ‘woke’ fitness enthusiasts understand the concept that many in the insurance model are not motivated to keep patients healthy because medical billings are low when we are healthy. The principle that needs to be pointed out here is that we need to be our own best advocates. The alternative is being in a broken system (and I do mean literally; morally and fiscally) that will swallow you up and keep you on prescription medications and in braces. The biggest disservice we can do to our bodies is to stop moving and ignore our miraculous ability to adapt and heal.
A little anecdotal share can help me paint this picture. One of my clients is a world ranked marathon runner, a 68 year old female ranked 4th in the world in her age bracket. Her and I have been working on her bone health and various injuries over the years. She used to struggle with arthritis in her hand. She couldn’t open jars or have a single day without hand pain. The only solution that was given to her by physicians was a $5000 custom brace that had no impact on her functionality or pain. She had no clue that her hands could feel better, but we tried a therapeutic laser on her hands that completely changed her pain on her request after conducting her own research. The long story-short is that now she can now open jars and grip items with no pain. This option was only available to her as she became her own curious health advocate.
What plagues so many of our self-care and wellness is that we overlook how our body responds to our environment. This causes us to ignore our own scientific process. You are, after all, your own case study. Ignoring all the variables of your body, how it moves and responds to stress/stimuli will put you on the path to frailty and losing access to your strength. The principle of treating yourself as a case study even under the care of medical professionals and wellness providers is extremely valuable.
Being conscious of the essentials is the theme of how I’m guiding my clients and athletes during this pandemic and towards a new normal of health autonomy in a time where our chronic health problems are a short term liability.
One essential to reframing fitness as we know it is The Principle of Essentialization in exercise. This is strategic exercise planning to include weekly planning of accessing all motor units while consistently working on the body’s capabilities to safely progress.
I was able to work with these theories on a deeper level after recording 2 podcast conversations with an esteemed college and friend, Gregory Gordon MA of Exercise Intelligence.
The fundamentals of strength, in other words, what really matters:
- Accessing various types of muscle fibers: There’s an entire spectrum of motor units, aka where a neuron and muscle become a unit, that 99% of trainers don’t know how to access. What really matters is that by accessing a full spectrum of motor units your training will be aligned with your nervous system and therefore extremely efficient and effective at improving on power, strength, velocity and endurance.
- The form isn’t the most important part of exercise and why this can encourage virtual ‘hands-off’ training with a smart trainer
- The skill of exercise matters. Back to essentials: what you need to retain and what you don’t have to worry about (doing things with more ease/able to recover and adapt) The execution of exercise is a skill set that can be honed and will exponentially improve your exercise quality therefore exponentially improving your physical longevity. The unfortunate reality of the fitness industry is that this is completely overlooked and can diminish the returns on our fitness investments and shorten the health-span of our joints. One of the takeaways from my own intellectual dive into how we learn is that we must give people a ‘bandwidth of error’ to process, observe and make errors for exercise/sport/agility skills to become a fun and rewarding process
- Knowing different ways to make an exercise more accommodating or challenging
- Balancing the inside and outside views of your health
- Caring for your Nervous System and Muscular system
Before the body’s intelligence is stimulated, it’s important to understand the importance of reframing the relationship of health, self and fitness. How can you change the way you see exercise so that changing your habits becomes effortless? This is what I mean by embodiment.
Scientifically put, What is exercise? If we follow these principles they are the ‘Science of You’, the interplay of what is good and bad for us. The science of our growth and adaptation follows a flow of the life cycle of biology: equilibrium /stress/ force/ the constant cycle of life/the cycle that sustains and protects us.
Stress as it impacts us is an interpretation, and your body and mind holds the context.
Your brain operates the control.
Examining this process, the allostatic load on the body is what I call ‘The Science of You’.
Can my knowledge as an experienced MAT™ specialist, strength and injury prevention expert help you be more in the present moment and focus on what can help you now and build a system for success?
Fitness has been reframed for us. It’s all changed as far as time, expectations, relationship with providers and even access to food/nutrition. Consciousness has changed for all of us- and how we exercise is a reflection of our self respect and self image- this is reflective of how we see society and globalization and how we choose to infect/spread/participate in global cooperation. Be open, be ready for adjusting your personal responsibility with your social responsibility
One of the horrible side effects of a life that is too busy for health and self care is that so many blind spots and our thought patterns get stuck in a perpetual state of bullshit. This state of operating stays the same until we get injured and have to stare at these problems or we have a screeching halt in progress for whatever reason, this time is a global pandemic, could you be so lucky? A collective disaster that intensified our ordinary problems, this is the opening to an alternate reality where our other selves may thrive.
I see this pandemic as being a time with a lot of opportunity for reframing, innovation and rebirth. My goal is to provide a portal to a better world in self care and self leading with fitness. This is a path of self-leading that comes from a respect of the innate body intelligence and a belief that the path to self improvement is paved with intuition and intentional work.
The podcast, Think Fit. Be Fit. is the medium that allows me to share the thinking tools that supports earnest thinking, being well grounded in fitness, finding information that is outside of institutional thinking and finding rewards for collective incentive and self incentive.
Once you have adopted a deeper thought process to your fitness, albeit slightly contrarian — you will intuitively and intellectually shape your own new model for your fitness. You won’t be hearing (or talking about!) the same old bullshit from us, just tough love, a bit of a rebellious attitude and a lot of science — because when you know something isn’t working, it’s time to change.