I'm not here to tell you how to exercise....I'm sure that's what you were expecting, but I'm not going to. I get asked a lot what the best way to exercise is or what's the best thing to do to improve fitness and the answer is never what the person wants to hear. If you ask any health or fitness professional the same question, they should also give you a similarly frustrating answer.
Before you even ask that question, you need to answer another one...why am I doing this? Once you have answered that, then you can find out what is the best training for you. If it's simply losing weight and getting healthier, than I would tell someone to change their diet, but before I would do that, I would ask you what you like doing. This is important because if we are doing an activity that we enjoy, we aren't really going to think of it as exercise or training. Here's an example, I was working with an elderly patient how was coming off of a knee replacement. She was overweight by her doctors standards and was told that she was going to need a walker. She loved playing with her grandchildren and she used to go Thursday and dance at her local community center. Would you believe me if I told you that five months later, not only was she dancing every Thursday and babysitting grand kids two days a week, but she was doing Crossfit style workouts with olympic lifts? Even though she was not doing cleans and snatches with hundreds of pounds, she was able to do them with suprisingly good technique and she could dead lift her body weight. She never intended to get to that point, but she had seen the Crossfit games on tv and asked me about it. We had already been working together for a few weeks by that point, so she knew that I would never give her anything that would put her in harms way.
I have spent time working with patient populations ranging from the elderly to pediatric, I've worked with and trained professional and collegiate athletes, and I have helped people run marathons and obstacle races. I've helped people recover from injuries, helped people learn how to walk again, and I have helped people lose weight. I am telling you this because each type of person that I've worked with, regardless of their athletic prowess, ability level, goal, or whatever metric that would be used to classify them, I evaluate them the same way. I look at their kinetic chain.
Regardless of what you want to do, if you have kinetic chain dysfunction, you have already lost. There are a lot of "kinetic chain" concepts and definitions you can find on the internet, for me, I look at the kinetic chain in terms of our alignment in relation to how we move. With that being said, I take a joint by joint approach when evaluating the kinetic chain; specifically the mobility/stability relationship. So for every joint that should provide stability, the one directly above and below it should be mobile. This is a bit of an over-simplification and arm-chair biomechanists and academic snobs are probably going crazy now, but the over-simplified approach is the easiest way to describe it and help people understand it.
There are a few things that I want you to do before you start an exercise program. These are easy so you have no excuses. The first thing I want you to do is to take off your shoes and stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
I want you to imagine that there are three points on your foot. 1) at the base of your big toe, 2) at the base of your pinky toe, and 3) your heel.
I want you to press down on all three of those points at the same time as you stand. For some of you, there will be a weird pulling sensation in your hips or thighs. We want to feel rooted in the ground when we do this.
To start, press on all three points and hold it for 15 seconds or so. Do this 5 times. We want to work up to holding this for 60 seconds at a time. While doing this, try to think of the things that we are grateful for or the good things that you have in your life. For me, it's my family, but it can be whatever you want it to be...a job, health, opportunity,...high fat food...well maybe not that, but if you're grateful for that, than more power to you.
The next thing that I want you to do is the first in a series of movements that consider to be the foundation for keeping you injury free and helping you move with optimal performance. It could be the hardest thing that you do today....are you ready to sweat...just kidding. I want you to stand on one leg.
Here's the caveat...I want you to have a little bend in your ankle, knee, and hip. So stick your butt back a little bit. It's also important to keep your chin above your feet and your planted foot straight. Keep the foot that is lifted off the ground in front of you. We do this, in case you lose your balance, we want you to fall forward onto that foot. As you become more comfortable and confident with this movement, bring your knee up higher. You can use something to assist in your balance(a countertop, chair, cane, etc), but I don't want you to rely on it...just use a finger or two to help you stabilize yourself (Just Pinkies Bro!). Do this for 15 seconds to start eventually working your way up to 60 seconds. The other great thing about this, is that you can do it throughout the day, so when you're standing in line at the store, stand on one leg. If you have a standing desk at work, try standing on one leg. Sure people will look at you funny, but who cares. It's your journey.
Believe it or not, most people struggle with standing on one leg...especially doing it in the manner described above. The next movement in the series is doing a hip hinge from the single leg. I will get some pictures or a video link up to that in the near future. The last movement is what I call the single-leg disco. You aren't ready for it yet, so hopefully by the time that you are, I will have pictures and videos up for it.
So the last step before I set you free on your exercise odyssey. I want you to do yoga. If you are like more people out there who don't do yoga, you are probably terrified at the idea of going to do yoga in front of people. Well great news, you don't have to. I want you to download a yoga app, so unless you're Zack Morris, your phone should be able to handle downloading one. There are several great free and low cost apps out there and you can do them in the comfort of your home where no one will judge you but your pets or kids, if you have them. I use yoga studio, but there are a lot of them out there. Just do a search and find what works best for you.
In terms of exercise types or training types, I only recommend what I have experience with and know...I say this because there's a quality control issue in most gyms and fitness facilities and you're at the mercy of the person leading the training. Be careful starting high intensity training and you need to make sure that you get acclimated to whatever training that it is. Not all trainers are created equal, so if they don't understand how to scale exercises and training based on your ability, than it would probably be in your best interest to avoid them. I will say that finding a community in your exercising will make it easier to adhere to, which is why things like Cross-Fit are so successful. But there's also a downside to that as well. Pushing your limits is great, but not at the risk of your well-being. I have been to some great boxes where the coaches know what they are doing and are excellent and I have been to some where I have watched the coaches put people at risk by having them perform complex movements where the people couldn't perform them safely.
If you do have a question, please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to answer your questions.