Sharing my Coaching Work|Intro to New Writing I’m Doing

Posted on August 4, 2013

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I have no good pics of me coaching apparently, so as a space-filler up there is a pic of me boating with icebergs in Iceland. That’s fun.

When I write, I like to write about a variety of things focused around being as “fit for real life” as possible. Oddly, I rarely write about what I do at work, even though what I do at work does make people more “fit for real life.” Even though my work is a massive part of my life, and is something that I’m good enough at that I make a living doing it, I haven’t really written about my work with clients yet. I have no good excuse or reason why…so, as I adventure back to regular writing yet again, one of my goals is to share what I do with clients more so that, what I believe is good info, can get out there for folks to become stronger, more durable, more resilient athletes – both in sports & in life.

My goal here is to move through my creation and utilization of my “process” – I use that word loosely – and utilize client examples (with their permission of course) to show how the strength programs many folks are using today (usually pulled from some fitness/athlete magazine or based on what they read so-and-so is doing in their program) are missing some key factors to truly be great programs. Of note, I’ve got three distinct sections of clients…endurance athletes (both triathletes & runners), sport-specific athletes like swimmers, cyclists, & mountain hikers, & general population folks whose main goal is something like being out of back pain for the 1st time in 10 years. But – all three groups have one major similarity – it is WAY too ‘normal’ for injuries, aches, and pains to be a part of the lifestyle. Rather than the rare acute injury, these folks are walking in the door with a sometimes short, usually long list of ‘x hurts a bit’ or ‘y is strained’ or ‘q is torn’.

Frankly, the amount of broken-ness that’s considered ‘normal’ today is disturbing, and we can change that.

I’ve been a trainer for 10 years now, so it’s honestly kind of hard to remember how I first began down this path of the ‘kinetic chain’, ‘muscle imbalances’, and ‘muscle activation.’ Despite the much maligned word “functional” these days, I credit my start with the “functional training” cert, NASM, as a good intro for me to understand more about creating strength beyond what other certs offered of just ‘X reps/sets = X muscle change’.

Reps & sets are an important part of programming, yep, and important to learn about if you’re a trainer – but – this kinetic chain stuff was tapping into the part of me that has always geeked out on the human body’s movement capabilities and connections. So, if I could sign on, which I do, to the notion that an overly tight muscle in one part of the body can contribute to an excessively lengthened and/or over-worked muscle somewhere else in the body, and that *could* cause problems, then it stood to reason that there was definitely more to focus on than just reps/sets as some of my fellow trainers were doing.

There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and this just happens to be, to me, one effective & interesting way to do it. The cool thing is that you can overlay what I’m talking about here, correcting muscular imbalances and optimizing the kinetic chain function, with other methodologies for training, and it all still works! I’m of the mind that in most fields, including training, there’s good stuff in a lot of arenas and that no one program gets it totally, completely, exactly right. So why not look at a variety of programs, use what works, and leave behind what doesn’t?

In my gym, one of the early adopters of my type of programming was a mountaineer who led expeditions up some of the highest peaks in the world, where he was the climber going up first to put the rope anchors and ice screws in – meaning it was truly a life/death thing if he could move optimally and generate strength from his entire body. The seriousness of that made me hone in on ensuring every muscle was recruiting strength optimally and in harmony with every other muscle. He needed to generate force in some really weird body positions so we had to be creative about simulating that in the gym & it led to some of the creative strength-building movements I still use today. And, using the concept of the kinetic chain and its’ links made sense – and proved successful – so I built off it as I worked with more & more clients. A top-level triathlete found me a year or two later and we started applying the kinetic chain/corrective stuff to her sport, and the process worked well. And things simply grew from there!…those are the client examples I’ll get into in future posts.

I’ll wrap up this post with the following takeaway, cuz I’ll admit, this setup post isn’t the most life-altering thing I’ve ever written:

Here’s how rad our bodies are…did you know…

there are measurable shifts in postural muscles that act to offset the intended movement you’re about to do. Here’s what that means – if you want a coil to spring, you smoosh it down and when you let go, it springs, right? So let’s say you move to the right. Before you move right, your body’s tiny muscles that stabilize your posture move left in what seems like a pre-emptive stability response. That’s rad, but THIS is radder: think about how you don’t even consciously think “I’m going to move to the right”, it just happens subconsciously, and then realize that even BEFORE THAT, your brain is sending signals to your body to move things left in order to keep you stable and upright as you move right.

The amount of stuff your body does without you thinking, using just your subconscious mind, is freakin’ awesome – and powerfully frightening if you aren’t working to optimize the system, both conscious and sub-(which ties right back into what I write about all the time…your subconscious/conscious health…love it)

Your body is freaking amazing and should be cared for as such. I will continue doing that with clients, and hope that as I finally start writing about what I’m doing with them, that it might help you care for your body even better as well!

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Posted in: fitness