I was chatting with a long time client of mine a few days ago. She told me her husband (also a client), had recently mentioned I was turning up the volume a little bit on our workouts. He liked the added challenge, but wondered what was prompting the increase in intensity?
The answer is actually pretty simple, though I let her tell me her theory, and before our conversation drifted into something else. When I first began working with him, it was a post rehabilitation situation with a bit of back pain thrown in. Though he had been active his entire life, he and I didn’t share a common language for movement. I wanted to make sure he understood what I meant when I suggested his shoulders move down, or his ribs moved towards his pelvis. If I asked him to externally rotate his shoulder, or find his heel, he needed to know how to do that. And so we worked on these basic skills, building a common vocabulary that began to translate into more dynamic and strengthening exercises. These early sessions required a lot of mental focus on his part; he wasn’t necessarily used to moving his body in the way I was asking, and learning to isolate a body part and then integrate was challenging in a more cerebral sense than simply going through the motions of a “hard” workout. It is easy to design a workout that is physically hard. Weight, speed, and repetition ensure a sense of fatigue afterwards. It is much more challenging to move with integrity and skill, knowing your tendencies and working towards a high level of competency. Moving well allows a more complete exploration of different exercises. It allows basic exercises to become more complex without high risk of injury, and gives the person performing the exercises a sense of inner strength. In the words of Gray Cook, “First, move well. Then move often.” Take the time to find the skill and see where it takes you.