After a few sessions of working with patients, clients, or athletes, I generally receive the same feedback…it goes something along the lines of “This is a lot different than I thought it would be” , to which I ask why’s that. The response is normally “I thought that I would be doing some really crazy, intense, painful exercises” and I usually elude to the pain train will be pulling into station soon.
This idea that for exercise and training to be beneficial it needs to be painful or exhausting is rooted deeply in our culture…no pain, no gain and all of that rhetoric is one of the main reasons that we fail on our journeys. I do believe that there is a place for the go until you puke mindset, but it is something that I seldom use and it’s only for certain circumstances.
More often then not, it takes months upon months working with someone until they are even physically ready to take on that type of training. The majority of that time in the first several months, my goals are pretty simple. 1.) establish trust with whomever I am working with and 2.) building a foundation for their journey (health/fitness/athletic performance).
Establishing trust is important because my goal with every person I work with is to empower them to be their own advocate and trainer. Once they trust me and understand the methodology and rationale for why we are doing what we are doing, then they will be able to begin to understand how to program their regimes and routines for themselves. My philosophy is Educate, Empower, Perform.
Building the foundation is where the nuance comes in to play. What does a good foundation consist of? I take an Occam’s Razor approach. At the simplest form, I focus on two ideas; 1.) movement patterns (are they balanced) and 2.) nutrition. Most issues can be resolved when we correct those deficiencies. I have talked about some of the testing and evaluation that I do in the How to Change section of the website. The goal is to make sure that we identify and correct imbalances in the body; eg if a person is suffering from back pain, the issue is probably a result of an imbalance above or below the area of pain. This is a bit of an oversimplification, but you get the idea. We want to find points of failure in the body and correct them. This can take some time and can be frustrating, but empowering a person to be their own n=1 is a big step in long-term success.
The same n=1 approach goes for the nutritional aspects. We want to empower a person to see how food affects them and then adjust from their. As a whole, it’s not a one diet fits all approach, it’s more nuanced than that, but the goal is to understand the relationship that a person has with food and to educate them on how it can effect them and their conditions (if they have one).
With all of that being said, if you are looking to change or your recovery process has been derailed or you’ve experienced setbacks, take a look at your foundation. Outside of trying to find the right professionals to help, one of the best things that you can do is yoga. If you are uncomfortable going to classes or if you can’t afford it, I recommend using an app. I personally use Yoga Studio on IOS and I have used Yoga Monkey on Android. Yoga Monkey was free when I used it, Yoga Studio costs a couple of bucks, but it’s well worth it. You can also utilize YouTube as another free yoga resource. It’s as simple as searching yoga or beginner yoga and you can find thousands of videos.
If you are a veteran, go to the Veteran Resource section and fill out the form and we will be able to connect you to resources in your area or work with you.