Although we haven’t focused on the topic of exercise, we are lifetime advocates (and participants…) of exercising and all forms of movement. If one were to write an honest list of the panaceas that exist today, it would be a very short list. On the top of such a list would be exercise. A Google search on “the health benefits of exercise” would probably crash your computer! The benefits are infinite.
A common reason why so many people start, then stop an exercise program is because the typical ”go to the gym, hop on the elliptical trainer, do some biceps curls and leg presses, shower and go home” is, quite frankly, more of a big yawn than watching snow melt!
As many of you may know, we have been recovering from broken bones and surgery following a car accident this winter. The journey back to “whole” is a long and frustrating one. Knowing the body requires movement, you must get creative when you are locked into an immobilizer, or are hobbling around on crutches. Without a clear exercise plan going forward, a full recovery would have been a pipe dream. Having trained in Martial Arts for years, as well as training in all sorts of sports outdoors, in nature, the thought of returning to a gym felt “empty”. During my journey, I met and worked with an exceptional Fitness Professional who opened my eyes to a new understanding of the idea of “workout” and “gym”. So, I asked if he would share some of his philosophy with our readers. His name is James Fitzgerald, and what follows are his answers to some questions posed to him regarding his technique of fitness training.
“Most Fitness Professionals would never say this, but exercise is boring! We get so caught up in “numbers.” The questions I hear most that frustrates me in terms of programming is, “How many reps should I do?” or, “How many sets?” If a trainer can look at someone and give a definite answer, I would not be able to tell you how they did.
So, we do what “they” say (“they,” being books, magazines and TV). Grab a set of weights that you feel you can handle and do 2 – 3 sets of 10 – 12 reps. This is based on what? Certainly not science and/or testing. The routine becomes just that, and boredom settles in. The next step, more often than not, is to abandon the program. Just like any other aspect of life, if it’s not exciting, we lose interest.
Boredom can be avoided by making your program relevant to how you’d like to perform when you’re not in the gym. Train for real life, for real life situations. Don’t just exercise, but “TRAIN.”
Exercise vs Training:
Simply, repeating those words to yourself over and over again moves your mind in a different, more meaningful direction. Just take a look at info-mercials. We live in a society where we’re being bombarded with the message that exercise is not good for you. Companies have focus groups and do research, and have found that most people hate to exercise, or make excuses to not exercise. The big one is, “I don’t have time to exercise.” My question is, do you have time to train your body and mind in order to live longer? How about being able to pick up your grandchildren, or get out of bed without hurting your back?
To say that we are “training” makes what we want to accomplish more meaningful and purposeful. We’re not mindlessly wandering around the weight room because we think it’s what we should be doing.
What I call my type of training:
There’s no fancy, fluffy name for what I do. I did not reinvent the exercise wheel. If I had to put a name to the face, I’d refer to it as “Chaos Conditioning.” We need to be able to move in different directions, laterally, diagonally, forward and back. Life can be chaotic, and we need to maintain control. Just think for a second about the measure of athleticism it takes to walk over a sheet of ice, maintain your balance after a slip, or jump away from a knife that just fell off the kitchen counter! Notice how that thought invokes more thought? Now you have questions like “how can I train for that?” instead of how “how much weight should I be lifting?”
“Chaos Conditioning” trains three systems that we all need to get through our day: strength, movement and balance. This concept is based on a training paradigm created by Peter Twist of Twist Sport Conditioning, based in Vancouver. (I have a specialty certificate in the Essentials of Sport Movement from Twist Conditioning). Athletic conditioning is for everyone. I have 65 year-old women doing the same thing I have 17 year old basketball players doing. I simply regress it so that it is relevant to their lives in the real world.
In regards to the types of equipment that is available, just be creative. If you’re training at a gym, the opportunities are endless. BOSU Balance Trainers can be used for not only balance, but if flipped over (BOSU is an acronym for “Both Sides Up”, although I like “Both Sides Utilized”) can be used to add instability to push ups and squats.
If you do not have access to weights, body weight conditioning is fantastic. Push ups, squats, lunges or just plain running up and down the stairs to get the heart rate up.
Age should never be a factor when it comes to fitness and conditioning. Growing old is much better than the alternative…”
We hope this discussion might put a fire under some of you to re-discover the concept of exercise and fitness, and consider it training for the life of it! We srongly encourage sessions with a professional fitness specialist, like James, who thinks far outside the box. Heartfelt thanks to James Fitzgerald, for all he contributes to improving people’s lives!
Until the next time, be well.