It has been a while since I explained the “whys” of our exercise program, so this is a review to explain our format and what we are trying to accomplish.
An exercise program should exist to make you feel better, move better, and look better. It should not be so insanely tough that you feel beat up for 24-48 hours afterwards. Exercise is not a competition about who can go the longest or the hardest, instead it is about you and what works for you.
As I get older and more experienced, the more I am learning about the importance of BOTH movement AND exercise. These two things must compliment each other.
Movement is what you do daily to go about your life. If you are sitting too much, then your body and health will suffer. Movement is taking the dog for a walk, it is cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, playing with your grandkids, or whatever else comes your way. People who move a lot through their lives, have an easier time with their fitness programs because their body is more mobile and less stiff.
Exercise, on the other hand, is a focused fitness workout, where you have a goal in mind, a plan, and an area of focus. A good exercise program will allow you to move better all day long; free of pain, with better posture and with more energy. If your workout program makes you hurt or saps your energy, then you need to re-evaluate your program’s intensity, frequency, or content.
With the Thrive Fitness program, I take much care to design the workouts to be a long term solution, rather than a frantic attempt to get in great shape overnight. I design our workouts to enhance your normal active routine. Other programs out there, like outdoor bootcamps or Crossfit are based around working “all out” every workout and tend to include more risky movements than I like to program. When choosing exercises, duration, or intensities, I always take a look at the risk:reward equation. If something gives good reward but is also very risky, I will choose another option. In my mind, there is no worse thing than to induce an injury in a client or to have other aspects (work, family, etc) of the clients’ life suffer as a result of an overly ambitious workout routine.
Our program design covers many different components of fitness each week. First of all, most of our exercises have the goal of making your core stronger and less likely to be injured outside the gym. This is the reason why I stress proper posture during all of our exercises, to engage the core and not slouch. This is why I program exercises like ball rollouts, core sliders, and some of the TRX moves; by keeping your core engaged and stable, you are building up a more robust network of muscles around your spine. With our core focus, technique always takes precedence over the amount of weight used and having body control is more important than going “100%”. Our focus is much like a professional athlete would train — focused and under control, rather than full effort and less attention to technique.
The other components that I try to touch each week are: 1) Power – the ability to move yourself or an object quickly, 2) Strength – squat, lunge, push and pull to build muscle and slow down the aging process, 3) Mobility – the ability to move freely and without pain, with better range of motion. Much of our warmup process addresses this component. 4) Cardiovascular fitness – in the form of interval training as well as steady state cardio activities to exercise your blood pumping system and to ensure that you can take on life activities without being out of breath so easily.
A good fitness program is also balanced, in that it doesn’t overuse one area of the body to the point of injury, and also so that there is a mix of hard days and easy days to allow for joint and muscle recovery. Blasting your body day after day doesn’t make sense, as this would actually stress your body – aging your body and making it feel worse than not exercising at all.
On an individual basis, I also take into account each person’s fitness level, injury history, age, and personal interests/goals when designing the workout formats. The good thing about our Thrive format is that there are always great alternative movements to give you similar results without the downside or risk of pain.