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The Performance Lab A place to discuss the role of physical exercise on health in diseased and non-diseased states.

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Old 01-05-2012, 06:14 PM   #1
NateM
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Default The Silliness in Fitness

I just received a trade magazine from Power Systems in the mail today. As I scan through the magazine briefly before recycling it, I'm struck by the sheer multitude of such a wide variety of gimmicks, toys and implements that are supposedly on sale to help folks get more fit, stronger, or better conditioned.

This is only one of several that I get each month. It's filled with such things as ropes and kettlebells, chains, sandbags, clubbells, tubes, bands, rollers, BOSU balls, vests, etc. The videos sold give the user the impression that there is something unique being offered, with titles like "Ultimate Sandbag" and "Battling Ropes". ('Course, I'd like to see ropes battle each other as much as the next guy, but I digress).

Is it any wonder why people are confused about what it takes to get is some form of decent shape? It's about the implement in the sales world, not the time-tested principles of fitness (i.e. progressive overload, individualization, work-rest, etc.)

How many people truly know how to gradually coax adaptations in their workout routines? How many times does the average fitness person jump onto the newest bandwagon, only to change again when something better comes along?

The foundational principles are lost or ignored, replaced instead with the glitz and glam of another tool. The corollary to PT is hard to ignore...."new" techniques or courses fill the CEU classes, while most therapists have no idea about the basics of pain or neuroscience. Instead, we reach for the next great course that is guaranteed to be the difference maker and cure each patient, until we're disappointed when we encounter the patient in the clinic again that fails, so we reach for the next tool.

It's too bad that the foundations are lost. It's too bad our collective memory is tuned to the short-term channel, so we quickly distract ourselves. Why work for 3 months to gradually add 10lbs to my squat, when I can start performing "pistol" squats and convince myself that these are much more effective anyway? Why talk to my patient about the output of pain being from the brain, when instead I can break out the trigger-point needles or metal tool and attack the painful spot directly, since "that's what hurts...right there." Why buy the scientifically-referenced textbook, when I can buy the "experts" book and just copy his/her workouts?

Where's our trade magazine for Dead Men?
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Old 01-05-2012, 06:38 PM   #2
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We need a like button here.
Such a consumerist society, isn't it?
Such a short attention span, such a bunch of two-year-olds rushing to each new toy enchanted by novelty and never noticing that it's the same kind of cheap thing that broke last week, just a different colour.
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Old 01-05-2012, 08:45 PM   #3
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Funny, I totally agree with you, but I own kettlebells and do pistol squats.
More out of cenvenience than anything else though.
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Old 01-05-2012, 08:56 PM   #4
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Reminds me of a saying I heard somewhere recently: "Give a man a stick and he can do 3000 different exercises, give a man an elliptical and in 30 minutes he wants his stick back."

Until recently I ran a PT practice located inside a gym. I became close with the head personal trainer who lamented that everything in fitness is driven by advertising and marketing ploys. All the shiny machines and mirrors are there to sell memberships.

The realization that my own profession is largely being driven by advertising and marketing is sad.
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Old 01-05-2012, 10:54 PM   #5
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A PT should have the confidence to treat a patient in pain on a deserted island using only their mind and hands.
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Old 01-05-2012, 11:16 PM   #6
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interesting idea for a thought experiment
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Old 02-05-2012, 02:21 AM   #7
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I agree with you all but the one factor you have not added into your thoughts here is the client. Clients unfortunately get bored. They are your bread and butter. If somebody down the street has the shiny new toy they might just up and leave. There is a whole psychology within the client that is driven by the industry's greed and a part that is just plain human. NEW=GOOD. This doesn't mean that I go out and buy every latest, most intensely marketed solution to which there was never a problem, but I don't mind somebody trying to come out with something interesting and helpful.
I love seeing new stuff show up if it helps me intelligently challenge my clients, add new approaches to force angles and moments, or just simply add fresh perspectives to my FOUNDATION. Everything I do is client centered and based on as much science as I can get my hands on. But sometimes you just need to add something new to stay fresh.
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Old 02-05-2012, 03:34 AM   #8
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Quote:
Such a short attention span, such a bunch of two-year-olds rushing to each new toy enchanted by novelty and never noticing that it's the same kind of cheap thing that broke last week, just a different colour.
So true, Diane. It reminds me of an interview I heard with a yogi years ago (paraphrasing here)..."yoga is a lifestyle, not a class you take once a week."

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Funny, I totally agree with you, but I own kettlebells and do pistol squats.
It's not the exercise, MaxG, but the example that something like this exercise, which is just another variation on a theme, is marketed through DVDs and books as a stand-alone fitness system. It's a one-legged squat, for goodness sakes!

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If somebody down the street has the shiny new toy they might just up and leave.
This is why I'm glad I left the training world and became a therapist. Science is there to inform our clinical decisions. If a patient would rather go down the street to the myofascial clinic (or kettlebell person), then there's nothing I'm going to tell him or her that would change his/her mind.

Quote:
But sometimes you just need to add something new to stay fresh.
I'd love Ken J.'s perspective right here on Barry Ross' methods and the results they get with their clients. Ken?
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Old 02-05-2012, 05:08 AM   #9
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I have a slightly more optimistic outlook on this. Fitness fads are fads and they go through stages. Remember step aerobics? Right now we are seeing the merging of Functional Fitness and High Intensity Interval Training. A lot of this is just throwbacks to what worked before bodybuilding and long slow distance training altered the training environment. I think this balance and change is a good thing, but of course the pendulum swings and it will swing to far and people, because they are people, will think they found the Holy Grail. Whole systems and belief systems will develop over a certain type of exercise or piece of equipment and ridiculousness will follow, but the science continues to evolve and there are a whole lot of people who are understanding the foundations of both fitness and human performance much more scientifically and thoroughly than before. This is a good thing, and although there are dips and valleys, the trend in knowledge and application of that knowledge is upwards.
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Old 02-05-2012, 06:03 PM   #10
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I found this on FB today, a picture that expresses the illusion of choice. (I think JasonE was the linker.)
It's about food, but it could just as easily be about gym toys. Or about theraband and other bright-coloured PT toys. It's all about extracting as much $ as possible from consumers through our innate and still very active kindergarten/magpie attraction to bright colours and novelty.

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Old 02-05-2012, 07:11 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NateM View Post

It's not the exercise, MaxG, but the example that something like this exercise, which is just another variation on a theme, is marketed through DVDs and books as a stand-alone fitness system. It's a one-legged squat, for goodness sakes!
Like I said, I definately agree with you. It just struck me as funny that you mentioned two of my main training tools!
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Old 02-06-2012, 11:01 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NateM View Post
Where's our trade magazine for Dead Men?
I'm sure - and that's the tragedy - there actually IS such a magazine somewhere out there.
Anyway, it's the same with all the new courses that seem to grow out of nothing. And every time I'm simply stunned by the fact what can be sold to people as "functional" or "ultimate", the newest thing being "CX Worx" by Les Mills, the "revolutionary core training."
Great! How many revolutionary ways to train your muscles are possible?
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Old 02-06-2012, 05:28 PM   #13
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Hi Nate!


Quote:
This is only one of several that I get each month. It's filled with such things as ropes and kettlebells, chains, sandbags, clubbells, tubes, bands, rollers, BOSU balls, vests, etc. The videos sold give the user the impression that there is something unique being offered, with titles like "Ultimate Sandbag" and "Battling Ropes". ('Course, I'd like to see ropes battle each other as much as the next guy, but I digress).

Is it any wonder why people are confused about what it takes to get is some form of decent shape? It's about the implement in the sales world, not the time-tested principles of fitness (i.e. progressive overload, individualization, work-rest, etc.)
Thanks for this post!

I'm sure I often upset a whole lot of speed coaches because I pretty much have abandoned long ago a lot fo the stuff that is still marketed as essential tools in helping athletes achieve faster top end speeds.

parachutes: Tested the original Atletica chutes several years; I stopped using them halfway through the outdoor season.

overspeed training: Tested overspeed devices (both surgical tubing as well as block and tackle devices); I found these things dangerous and unecessary; stopped using them by the end of the season

thigh trainers (weighted cuffs put on the thighs to improve hip flexor strength: Test for two years. Leigh Kolka was a friend, so these were hard to give up. Found them impractical and unnecessary

resistance belts (to improve acceleration): I stopped using them about three weeks into my first season of testing; they were impractical and labor intensive

resistance sleds (to improve start and acceleration): Everybody still likes sleds; I don't use them anymore;I had all kinds of issues with the of various sleds and surfces, the consistency of the resistance, the amount of resistance (relative to its influence on mechanics) etc.

I tested all these things with equipment like OptoJump and SiliconCoach biomechanics software. LYNX Reactime.

I have even more, but the results for me were all the same.

I had a speed enhancement business called Faster than Gravity. I put that to rest before becoming a dead man. Folks really wanted all those things, regardless of what they did or didn't do relative to improving their speed.

As Mel Siff once said:

"One is made to feel ill-equipped and ill-educated if you do not implement detailed programs using multiple isolated tools like balance balls, wobble boards, foam rollers, special treadmills, special shoes, as many Pilates contraptions as possible, plyometric balls, boxes, exercise and plyo sleds, gym machines, underwater jogging devices, dorsiflexor devices, 'bodyblades', grip strengtheners, rebounders, plyo hurdles, plyometric benches and so and so forth.
In the sport specific setting, the athlete generally wants to devote most time to the sport itself, not to numerous time consuming supplementary activities -
So why devote 15-20 minutes of a session to playing around with balancing toys, intricate technical procedures, "functionally integrated" series of "multi-dimensional" holistic exercise, when an entire workout with free weights could be done in not much more time than that? "


I miss Mel...
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:08 PM   #14
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No doubt about it Ken. Most of the athletes I've worked with just wanted to get back on the team with their buddies as fast as possible. Help them manage their pain/nerves so they can return to play quicker. They really don't want to do even the weight workouts.
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Old 05-06-2012, 02:47 AM   #15
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Thank You, Ken!!

I knew you would come in with a well-thought out and reasoned answer. Of course, you realize that your personal integrity and scientific mind will probably prevent you from marketing/promoting many of these devices, thus earning a lot of money.

You are a Dead Man.

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I miss Mel...
Me too. I need to get a copy of "Facts and Fallacies" for the home library.
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Old 05-06-2012, 03:45 AM   #16
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Playing with toys is fun. A lot of people also love spending money, in our culture most people probably enjoy the spending even more than the playing, hence the market.

Still, anyone can make up all sorts of fun ways to train using all sorts of random objects that don't cost anything. A lot of the BREAKTHROUGH REVOLUTIONARY TRAINING SYSTEMS involve something as simple as putting a weight on the end of a stick, or (the latest TRX RIP training system!!! - price = $220) a stick on the end of a bungee cord (price = $10).
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Old 12-06-2012, 08:36 PM   #17
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One thing many of the better-educated professionals in the field tend to forget is that, while athletes want their training to be safe and effective, the majority of the "recreational exercisers" want their training to be safe, fun and effective (usually in that particular order - fun being more important than actually effective). I don't see anything particularly wrong with that, I think a trainer should either pursue to train pro and/or aspiring athletes or be willing to adjust to his client's priorities. I think a good trainer would be able to base the core of his client's workout on effective means while also providing some "functional/fun" stuff.

As a matter of fact, some exercises seem to care primarily about fun with effectiveness and safety only as afterthoughts (aka crossfit).
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Old 12-06-2012, 08:53 PM   #18
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Quote:
Reminds me of a saying I heard somewhere recently: "Give a man a stick and he can do 3000 different exercises, give a man an elliptical and in 30 minutes he wants his stick back."
And in thirty days he's hanging his shirts on it.
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Old 12-06-2012, 08:57 PM   #19
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Quote:
One thing many of the better-educated professionals in the field tend to forget is that, while athletes want their training to be safe and effective, the majority of the "recreational exercisers" want their training to be safe, fun and effective (usually in that particular order - fun being more important than actually effective). I don't see anything particularly wrong with that, I think a trainer should either pursue to train pro and/or aspiring athletes or be willing to adjust to his client's priorities. I think a good trainer would be able to base the core of his client's workout on effective means while also providing some "functional/fun" stuff.

As a matter of fact, some exercises seem to care primarily about fun with effectiveness and safety only as afterthoughts (aka crossfit).
This is an excellent observation. I often tell young coaches that there are really just two reasons athletes come our for our sports: to have fun and to feel good about themselves in the process.

I've taken Occam's Razor to just about every other "reason."

If coaches ignore this, they end up coaching the sport and not the athlete.
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Old 12-06-2012, 10:33 PM   #20
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You have the sociclogical approach too Ken. If an athlete' buddies are playing football, he'll go out too. And just maybe, the psychological approach. Athlete sees the football coach as a father figure, or gaining favor with the father figure by playing the dumb sport (football).

Or maybe none of the above, it's hard to say. One thing for sure though. If you can make it fun for them, they won't quit when the losing starts.

Last edited by smith; 12-06-2012 at 10:39 PM.
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Old 30-12-2012, 06:08 AM   #21
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This is really old, but still funny.
Revolutionary New Insoles Combine Five Forms Of Pseudoscience
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