Tackling a New Year’s fitness resolution can be a daunting undertaking; hence why fitness professionals are optimistic about business prospects as Holidays blur by and January approaches. Considering how difficult it is to choose where to begin with blogging advice to those embarking on their upcoming health, wellness, or performance journeys, it must be even more confusing for you – the traveler – navigating uncharted waters and a seemingly foreign language. While my good friend and FitOps’ Director of Aftercare, Johnny Martin, lights a motivational fire under your ass that’s fueled by HOW to find and execute your WHY from a mental and emotional standpoint, I get to advise you on the easy part: WHAT to do from a physical perspective.
WHEN do you start? Now! …Only because beginning yesterday is apparently impossible.
WHERE do you start your movement? With MOVEMENT.
Just Walk Move yourself, literally. Start wherever you’re standing or sitting and locomote to a new location. Of course it gets more complex than that but, when in doubt, #walkeverydamnday as Dana Santas (professional coach, author, and appropriately nicknamed Mobility Maker) so eloquently states. Benefits of walking daily have been well documented and well broadcasted; potential increases in heart and lung health, mental health, caloric expenditure, immunity, bone density, lifespan, memory, aerobic fitness. . . Enhance your walking experience by unplugging from your tech heavy lifestyle and maybe adding in some friends or family. Even for those of us with regular bouts of intensive and extensive physical training, walking can help us downregulate and aid in our all too important recovery from training and other worldly stressors.
Explore Movement Walking takes time and effort and can serve as an introduction to your newly active lifestyle. Conquer this first “step” with consistency and briefly celebrate your progress. However, at some point we need to up the intensity by diversifying your movement catalog. Start to reacquaint yourself with the primitive patterns you developed in your infancy. Some might divide these patterns into more or less categories with a variety of names but let’s not argue semantics (come at me, internet trolls!). Let’s roll with the following seven: Squat, Hinge, Lunge, Push, Pull, Rotate, Locomote. Here’s a basic description of the fundamental movements you should be including within your training:
Squat – Sit down. Stand up. Congrats, you just squatted! Forgive the sarcasm and if, like me, you teach people how to squat for a living, please don’t take offense. Books are written about the intricacies of squatting but let’s please calm down – It’s just exercise folks.
Hinge – Shift your hips back to pick something up off the ground. Now you’ve added hinging to your repertoire! Lead with your hips and, if picking up something fairly heavy, maybe maintain some spinal integrity by not rounding your back.
Lunge – Drop to one knee like you’re about to propose to the love of your life or pledge your loyalty to your royal highness. Stand back up. Lunge complete! Repeat for the opposite leg so you don’t end up lopsided.
Push – Creating distance between yourself and something else, whether overhead or in front of you. Fortunately, International Bench Press Day (aka Monday) falls into this category.
Pull – Reduce the distance between yourself and something else, whether overhead or in front of you. Ironically, a pull UP and a pull DOWN are the exact same movement. Look to balance your pushes and your pulls.
Rotate – Think about swinging a baseball bat, golf club, or a left hook at your greatest adversary. Stefan Underwood, EXOS’ Director of Continuous Improvement and one of the absolute best educators I’ve ever been humbled by, likes to say that, “Life is a rotational sport.” Yet, so many people omit rotational exercises from their daily training. If you don’t want to throw your back out on the dance floor when wedding season rolls around, incorporate rotational movements into your routine, starting slow and controlled (maybe even resisting rotation) and gradually progressing toward more dynamic movements.
Locomote (Gait) – Crawl, walk, run, climb, hike, shuffle, swim, . . . MOVE. Get from A to B a variety of ways at a variety of speeds. If there’s another movement potentially missing from this long list, it’s “brace” or “carry”. Add some load to locomotion, or really any of the above mentioned movements, and you can simultaneously accomplish bracing.
There are infinite ways to access and incorporate the above mentioned movements. Warmups, strength training, sport, yoga, interpretive dance – You name it. Perhaps nobody does movement more creatively and comprehensively than Air Force veteran and coaching pioneer Vernon Griffith, and I can’t recommend his Explore Mobility program or Explorer team membership with anything less than my highest endorsement. That said, find what flavor best suits your own taste buds and get moving! If you have no clue where to begin, here’s a simple routine that you can perform daily as a stand alone session or in preparation for another activity.
Work at the edge of your comfort zone to promote progress. Move more. Then, move more better (grammar is hard). My next blog post, Move Intently and Intensely, discusses how to systematically add resistance to your newfound movement prowess.