Train smarter, not longer; how fitness has evolved

After attending a conference this past weekend, it occurred to me just how much the fitness industry has changed over the past couple of decades. As a child I can remember my parents being members of a gym that was filled with Nautilus equipment. A good workout was measured  in the number of reps and time spent on a circuit of machines, or the hours spent in a group fitness room following the coordinated moves of a step aerobics instructor. The problem with this way of training is that it does not address weakness or imbalance through range of motion in a joint and it only addressed the prime movers (major muscles), not the smaller muscles that assist with movement and stabilize joints.  It also did not identify a person’s individual training needs and we now know that each person has different needs and limitations when it comes to fitness. Although this era produced some well-recognized fitness icons like Jane Fonda, Richard Simmons and the beloved Jack LaLanne, it did not produce lifelong fitness habits that would have helped us avoid the obesity epidemic we are faced with today. In fact, this type of training often resulted in injury and did nothing to make us stronger and more efficient in the very movements that we used everyday whether in sport or life.

Today, after many hours of study on the way we move and use our bodies, we have found a much more practical way of training. Although the phrase “functional training” has become common in todays fitness industry, to truly understand what this means think of all the moves you perform to get yourself through your day. Think of grocery shopping, laundry, carrying children, jumping over that puddle in the parking lot, and yes, it does carry over into sport. All of the activities mentioned can be placed under the category of functional movement. After much research on human movement we can now determine through a screening process, where people have weakness and instability in their patterns of movement. We can then design training programs that address the problem areas to create a more balanced body and more efficient movement. By evaluating our clients on a continuum we can begin with basic body weight exercises and progress to more complex moves with additional resistance when appropriate.  Instead of relying on machines to provide the resistance, we now use body weight at various positions to gravity and equipment such as the TRX suspension system, medicine balls and kettlebells just to name a few. The equipment that is now available helps us produce more natural movement with or without external resistance to provide optimal results in strength, balance and joint stability. For more information on the continued research and application of training methods feel free to email Evolution Fitness at erica@evolutionfitnessme.com or check out our website, evolutionfitnessme.com.

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