Fitness as a Skill!

Evan McDaniel, CSCS, FRCms

(Otherwise known as one of Kelsey & Amy’s Fitness Guru man crushes! Your welcome in advance for the knowledge bomb he is about to drop on you.)

 

“What does ‘fit’ mean to you?”

This is a question I often pose to my clients and man, do I get varied answers. Generally, I get the same responses from everyone,“I want to move better, feel better, have more energy, be healthy and let’s be real look better while doing it.”

How do people go about achieving this goal?

Exercise.

Seems simple right? Sure. It can be if we truly understand what exercise is.

So what is exercise?

I am willing to bet if you ask 10 people, you’ll get 10 answers. Exercise is this general term we use nowadays to include pretty much anything besides rest. Sadly, think about all the times your coworkers want praise for using the stairs instead of taking an elevator. Can and do we really justify this as exercise? Are we really that sedentary in our day to day life that the act of walking up stairs has become “exercise”?

Exercise, in my interpretation, exists because we do not live typical human lives.  In modern society, we have cars, air conditioning, grocery stores, and office jobs instead of the crudely fashioned spears and rudimentary shelters of our primal predecessors.

Think about it…

We SIT in a car to drive to work so we can SIT all day in front of a computer. Then we SIT as we drive home in order to SIT on the couch and relax. Do we get some exercise in there somewhere? Sure, maybe. Does it replace the kind of activity our ancestors enjoyed each day? Nope! Our bodies were built to run, jump, throw, climb, crawl, and move “athletically”. Do we use these activities in daily life for survival? No. Do we need to in 2018? No, we don’t!

The result? Bodies that don’t know how to move or can’t move well, for that matter!  Enter….exercise.

Exercise has become the solution to our lack of movement. Our bodies listen to what we are telling it to do: sit down, relax, and conserve energy. Because of the signals we send our body, it has adapted by becoming restricted in range of motion, unable to maintain correct posture and stability, to store fat, shed muscle and decrease bone density. As a result, over 70% of the US population is classified as overweight or obese. The unfortunate solution for many people is to join a gym, sit on machines, and “pay their dues” while mindlessly going through the motions of movements with which they are unfamiliar.

I have seen far too many people check-in to their local gym just to see them check-out mentally for their workout. Too many people take their bodies for granted when it comes to exercise and most people do their exercises at least a little, if not ridiculously, wrong. We have all seen the “gym fails” videos, where people use outrageous or dangerous techniques and often get themselves hurt, but that is not what I am talking about. Many people falsely assume a level of proficiency with their bodies because at some point in time they were “in shape.” Others have never had any athletic or movement background, and therefore have never developed body awareness, balance, and general athletic capabilities. No matter the case, you should not only stay aware of and work on the quality of what you do in the gym, but also get confirmation you are performing the movements correctly from someone who knows what to look for (including walking and breathing).

Assuming proficiency with a movement is an easy way to miss out on maximizing the benefit you are looking to achieve. Professional athletes have coaches to help them perfect their movements, and if they can improve their performance then most of us have a lot of room for improvement as well. Approaching fitness as a skill takes practice, probably one of my favorite words. Practice is about working toward doing something perfectly, but also recognizing that perfection is fluid and will never be achieved because you can always be a little bit better. When I exercise, I want to practice moving my body, on purpose, with purpose. I encourage my clients to take this same approach to exercise, practice improving the quality of their movements and enjoying the challenge of chasing perfection. I also want people to apply that outside of the gym, but that’s for another time.

Approaching fitness as a skill takes time, as it moves at the speed of biology and not technology. Many people expect radical transformations at the drop of a hat (30 day this, 90 day that), and do not respect that fitness is a journey, rather than a destination. Whenever people tell me their goal is to achieve almost anything in under 6 months, I ask them if they have a time machine to go back and start working on that a year ago. That may seem rude, but I refuse to let my clients treat their bodies like a roller-coaster. I take a fairly hard stand that my clients take a life-long approach to fitness. It takes time and patience to build a foundation and continue your journey.

A common pitfall is when people want to rush their learning curve and take on complex movements before developing the technique behind the movements. Remember, barbells were invented recently. They have to be learned. Squatting with a barbell was not an innate skill that was passed along by our caveman ancestors. That being said, even pedestrian tasks such as walking (Yes! The pun is very much intended.) must be practiced and developed as a skill, because it is a movement we lose the ability to do when it is not practiced enough.

Approach fitness as a skill to be practiced and a journey to be taken, not a means to an end. Work to improve and stay connected to what you are doing. If you do not know what to do, seek out guidance and do not be afraid to ask questions. Next time you check-in to the gym, actually check in.

Kelsey & Amy Take-aways:

  • In case you need us to remind you, Evan is an amazing wealth of knowledge and information.
  • We love listening to Evan talk or write (in this case) because well… it makes sense! Humans are NOT meant to pick up barbells, thrust them over our shoulders and squat to give us a better booty. Especially if we are deconditioned and unable to live life without chronic back pain, tight hips, injured knees, weak core etc. Stop trying to do something that your body doesn’t know how to do. Fix it first!
  • BUT HOW AM I GOING TO GET MY BOOTY GAINS?! Evan provides a perfect solution. Start with practice and learn to move correctly. By simply doing this, you will notice a huge difference as you strive towards your goals. Bottom line (pun intended)?If your butt doesn’t work right to begin with (aka lazy glutes), you won’t gain muscle there anyway. Learn how to use those lazy ass muscles and you will see and feel the difference. Trust us! We do this with him every week!
  • Moral of the story… take this article to heart and dig deeper with your own research to learn more. Apply these principles to your current exercise program.
  • If you want to learn more, we understand! We learn something new every time he opens his mouth. Reach out to us and we can connect you to Evan!

Stay tuned for more articles from Evan! Now go do something healthy for your 21st century body 😘

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