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What Fitness Training Isn’t

Training for fitness, at any level, from absolute beginner to internationally ranked athlete revolves around personalisation.

It revolves around acknowledging individual needs.

It revolves around taking stock of where the person is now and where they would like to get to.

Fitness is not about creating mindless robots all performing the same task at the same speed.

I’m inspired to write this because of a video clip I just saw on facebook of a fitness seminar. It was a text book lesson in a guru hypnotising the audience into low level group think.

Not far of those circus like Tony Robins seminars, or those evangelical preachers whipping their audience into a mass hypnotic furor.

This clip showed a big roomful of folk, all dressed in the branded clothing of the coach, all in perfect straight lines, all performing very basic callisthenics to a count, a count which they all, in unison shouted out, with the guru spouting superficially deep statements as they rested.

His charisma with the obvious buy in, the group unity, the adrenaline, the intensity of the exercise and the group shouting all creates a tribal unity.

This tribal unity is no bad thing in itself. But when it is so clearly contrived and created by well known performance artistry and NLP-esque techniques, it is sickening to see.

And it’s NOT fitness.

It serves as fitness training in a military setting, where group unity is far more important than individual identity. But outside of the basic training section of military service, this methodology is left behind as soldiers are further developed.

Real fitness training is about the individual. Even if everyone is following the same workout template, each person has it scaled or adjusted to their individuality. This person may front squat, but that person might Split Squat. That person may Deadlift, that person may Swing. This person my do Pull Ups, that person does inverted rows. This person does 5 reps, that person does 15 It’s not rocket science, but it is good coaching. It’s about recognising the unique strength and weakness of each person and challenging them accordingly.

It’s about helping them find their best movement, style and aptitude, helping them learn how to train themselves, to discover the intrinsic motivation to push themselves.

Yes, many start with extrinsic motivation, reasons that are based on external judgement or set for them by other people, but that fades. Intrinsic motivation is where legends are born, it’s this quality that most champions have naturally, but it can be learned if it is offered by the coach.

It is at the core of my own coaching style. It is why the guys that leave WG-Fit relocating to somewhere new, who have never been subjected to the NLP-esque, mass hypnosis nonsense still continue to train, and more often than not still contact me when they hit PR’s or succeed in a new challenge in their new lives.

Former member Shane regularly gets in touch with updates on his progress

These guys learned intrinsic motivation, they learned the value of self motivation and as a result they continue to train.

Part of this motivation comes from knowing how to train, how their body works, how their mental fitness is as important as their physical fitness.

Mind Over Metal!

If ever you find yourself lined up, in a uniform, responding to barked orders with responses barked back in unison with those around you, just check you haven’t also been issued dog tags and had your head shaved….. Final note:

This if for my friends in the traditional martial arts, this is not a dig at you. Good TMA does use the lines and the synchronsation for drilling fundamental techniques, usually due to the high number of students per instructor. When everyone is doing the same, its easy to see the one who isn’t. But even still, a good school breaks the group into smaller groups where individualisation of the training can take place. Or at least, that’s how my Karate instructor, the late Jack Parker used to teach us.

Here’s to becoming free thinking, adaptable individuals. Not robots.


Dave Hedges

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