How To: Exercise

Confession time, I didn’t know how to exercise when I was growing up. The exercise habits I learned on my own, from fitness magazines, athletic coaches, and even other trainers, and exercise programs started ingraining dysfunction on my body and the result was aches and pains… in my early 20’s.

I finally realized if I continued down the path I was on, surely I would need a joint replacement, back surgery, or I would become crippled and unable to function the way I wanted to. I admit, what I learned about fitness and how I started training clients was not conducive to mine, nor their, overall fitness and wellbeing.

I had to wise up and humble myself, because I didn’t know everything and I had to learn more. For my health’s sake and the health and fitness of my clients if I wanted them to stick around and achieve the results I knew were possible with the right kind of training.

Through ups and downs of trial and error I finally found Functional Patterns, a training system for humans! And if you practice FP, or if you’ve ever had a chance to try it with a practitioner, you know that it is all encompassing. Training that is mentally overwhelming and physically deceiving, yet intuitively feels good and leaves you coming back for more.

The best part about Functional Patterns training is that it doesn’t bother my joints. When I first started rehabbing myself from old injuries and nagging pain coupled with joint compression I would uncover movement compensations during an exercise that highlighted my weaknesses and dysfunctions. I was able to gain insight into how to correct my motor skills to support my overall function, and also my function as it related to specific scenarios that I could train my body to adapt to.

The main area that I train my body to get stronger at is my gait. The gait cycle is a key element to human function. It’s how our movement evolved our muscles, their shape and how they function. Exercising the way I had when I was growing up didn’t train the body that way- it grouped it into individual muscles and individual functions and trained them like that. When in reality, the body functions as one integrated unit.

It was a no brainer, the way I was exercising was messing my body up even more, because it didn’t take into account how to train the body to coincide with the way it functions. It didn’t matter that everyone else in the gym was training the wrong way, it wasn’t for me. And in hindsight, it wasn’t right for them either, looking back on it, mostly everyone in the gyms I was working out at had some form of injury or joint pain that they were either working around or trying to fix with the same old rehab exercises that have been around for decades- yet still didn’t work. If they did, I feel like they would have worked for me and everyone else in the gym trying to get out of pain. Once I realized all of this, I started transitioning into more and more Functional Patterns training. I purchased their 10-week online course, started working with an FP Practitioner in person, and eventually wanted to learn more so I got certified and become a Practitioner myself!

The more I learn, and our team of FP Practitioners learn, the more we discover how traditional means of exercise (the common exercises you see being performed) create more damage on the body because they don’t align with the true mechanics that make up the motion(s) of the human body. It’s our mission to fix our own bodies so we can fix yours! We lead by example, so all of the exercises we teach, we’ve gone through and tested out on ourselves first, to ensure that they work. This allows us to deliver a low risk; high reward exercise, rather than making your body feel worse in the process of “exercising” and “getting fit.”

It’s time to learn how to train your body intentionally and with a purpose, rather than habitually and just going through the motions with whatever muscles are working. Time to exercise the right way, instead of compensating your way through an exercise. It’s finally time to see a trainer at a gym that aims to simultaneously strengthen your body while rehabbing your body, so that your body can perform the way you want it to in the real world.

While this isn’t a step by step guide on how to perform the exercise that’s right for you, it is a guide that you should consider when exercising. How does exercising make you feel, during and after, and even the next day. This is one way to recognize if the way you’re exercising and the exercises you’re performing are inflicting damage to your body and impeding your overall function.

If you want to learn what exercises to do, and how to do them, to achieve a high functioning body as you continue to age and without all the aches and pains, then schedule your Initial Consultation with one of our FP Practitioners today!

 

 

What Does Your Exercise Regimen Do For You?

You know exercise is good for you, but is the way you exercise helping enhance your ability to function as you age? Whether you’re 30, 50, or 70 exercise has the power to optimize your function as the years roll on. The caveat is that your muscle network needs the right kind of stimulus to produce the results you’re after.

Mindlessly sitting on an exercise bike after sitting at work all day, or lifting weights up and down without mechanisms that mirror human motions is just going to lump you in the “I’m just getting older so my knees hurt and I just can’t move like I used to” category.

Your functional capacity is a byproduct of your exercise regimen, or lack thereof. Lifting weights up and down to build big muscles is shortsighted if you don’t consider the function of the muscle, and how it works to move your body when you aren’t exercising. Muscle mass built on a compromised structure turns into dysfunctional muscle because its main function(s) isn’t it’s only job anymore. It’s having to hold your body in positions that aren’t preferable or natural but now it’s stuck there because you trained the muscle to associate its function “this way” instead of the way nature designed it to.

Lift weights and exercise to train your muscles in the context that your body uses them the most, because your future function is at stake every time you exercise. You’re 25 or 35 years old now and your body feels alright, but if its barely hanging on now and you’re starting to feel joint aches creep in then you need to ask yourself what state your body will be in 10 years from now if you continue exercising the way you’re exercising now. Real functional exercise has more to it than meets the eye. Our gym focuses on how the human body evolved to function and how it moves on a daily basis to create an exercise regimen to provide a sustainable way to workout, without succumbing to aches and pains accompanied by traditional gym exercises.

If you want to learn more and treat your body right, now, so it treats you right, later, then schedule your initial consultation to get started on the path to pain free, unrestricted movement, and enjoy the activities that are part of your life!

How To Tell If Your Workouts Are Paying Off

No it’s not just that your losing weight (that’s mostly diet anyway), or that you’re lifting more weight, or you can touch your toes. All of that should come along for the ride, but what if all of that happens at the expense of your well-being, and you can lift more weight but you blow out your knee joints, or shoulder joints, or you’re losing weight by beating your body up with chronic fast paced interval workouts that you won’t be able to sustain when your body finally crashes (hence why dietary habits are more important for sustainable weight loss), or you’re more flexible but touching your toes is over stretching your hamstrings and now you can’t contract them like you should and they no longer support your body.

The way our trainers educate our clients to know if their workouts are actually yielding a return on their investment is if they’re able to move without guarding or restriction, they no longer have chronic pain when they exercise or move about in the real world, and they can function the way they need and want to without having to avoid certain activities. Of course all of this is a process and not an overnight event, but those are the goals our trainers have for all of our clients, our intentions behind every workout is to build muscle and strength that carries over to life away from the gym. After all, the gym shouldn’t be where you spend hours a day but instead get in, do your work, and get out to enjoy other activities that our gym has prepared your body for!

We are a unique boutique fitness studio that focuses on human biomechanics and our niche does’t entertain all the fluff in the fitness industry because we’ve been there and we’ve done that, and we finally realized that it was ego driven and unsustainable. We beat our bodies up at the expense of looking good, and we realized that if we continued on that path, we’d be right where the rest of gym goers were, wearing knee braces, avoiding certain lifts because it hurt, working around problems, on the path to knee replacements and back surgeries, and eventually blaming old age on a problem that was created years prior from bad fitness habits. We realize not everyone is about longevity and sustainability but for those of you who want something different, and something that will last, we’re here for you!

Once we can undo the damage done to your body from past exercise habits and old injuries, then the fun can start and you can obtain that rush of endorphins and the higher intensity cardiovascular workouts but you won’t injure yourself because your body will have been primed for advanced movements. And if it’s not, your body will tell you and we’ll stop and correct what needs correcting before blindly proceeding with an exercise that you might need more coaching on. The difference is by that point you and your body will know what feels right and what is going to produce damage, because we like to educate you along the way so that you learn the purpose of an exercise and how it should carry over to your overall function- inside and outside of the gym.

We spend time in the beginning learning foundational concepts to apply to basic exercises that involve structures like your pelvis and ribcage, that effect other structures like your arms, shoulders, and neck, as well as your legs, knees, ankles, and feet. When you learn the functions of these structures and how to move them to contract muscles and then what those muscle contractions should feel like, then we can go on to the next level. We don’t like to get ahead of ourselves or rush your progress, but we do want to push you to get your body functioning the way it needs to be. How ever long it takes, we have patience to safely progress you and ensure we aren’t going to force you into exercises your body isn’t ready for. As we keep moving you through the levels, that’s when efficiency starts to manifest and we are able to make the most of your time in the gym. Rather than keeping you in a routine that works on stretching first, then strength training, then cardiovascular exercises, then core strengthening, then mobility, then endurance and time under tension, we are able to do all of that at once. Not in one workout but in one exercise! Then not only does your time become efficient but so does your body and the way it moves.

Efficiency is key because in the real world your brain and body don’t have time to think of how to move, it just happens automatically. So the idea of mentally “squeezing” a muscle breaks down at some point and your body needs to learn how to contract a muscle by positioning your bones at the correct angles. Don’t worry, we teach you this. And we take it a step further by matching those angles to the angles that replicate basic human movements like standing, walking, running, bending over, and even throwing, so when you go to perform these movements, you don’t have to think because your muscles already know how to contract during those functions. Again, all of this takes time, depending on how dysfunctional your body has become from improper exercise habits, arbitrary workout classes, old injuries, chronic pains, and whatever else we have to fix to start retraining the brain and body to connect better.

If you’re local to San Antonio and the surrounding areas, we’re your future gym. Not to toot our own horn (because we’re humbled everyday by unique cases like scoliosis clients, clients with chronic pain that hasn’t been helped by physical therapy so they turn to us as their last ditch effort, and other problems that the fitness industry prefers to avoid or work around), but we’re the only place that trains this way. Sure other gyms might claim to do this or have the same intentions, but chances are they are not providing the same service and techniques. The human biomechanics field is a very small, up and coming one, and the Functional Patterns institute that teaches these techniques doesn’t promote weekend or online training seminars, but instead we spend weeks learning these methods to ensure that first, we get them right, so we can properly teach our clients.

So, stop getting stuck in the stretch, lift, cardio, stretch routine and start learning how to become more efficient with exercise, to become more efficient in the real world. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation/ evaluation and learn what your body does well so we can build off of that, and also what it doesn’t do well so we can correct that! You have your entire life ahead of you, are you going to spend it in pain and unable to move like you used to (what your doctor says is just old age) or are you going to do something about it? It’s time to regain your freedom to move and take control of your lifestyle and the way the human body was meant to move, no matter your age! This gym exists for that reason! Come find out what we do differently from the rest of the fitness world, and why we do it!

Knee Pain

Wearing a knee brace because you have knee pain doesn’t solve the problem. Like a bandaid on a gunshot wound.

Your chronic pain is likely the result of improper muscle function compounding over time, making the joint work harder than it has to. Leading to inflammation that doesn’t go away just because you put a brace on…

Exercise patterns that load the proper muscles and unite the entire kinetic chain, teach the body to distribute force through a network of muscle rather than repetitive force compounding in your joints.

Isolated exercise patterns teach your joints to act as the lever rather than leveraging weight and lifting objects with your muscles. Strengthen your body through patterns in synch with the myofascial sling mechanism.

Book your initial consultation through our website, under “Booking” tab, and start learning how to teach your body to regenerate- no matter your current state, level of experience, or past practices!

The Way You Exercise

Recognize that the way you exercise has significant influence over your function and fitness, and your dysfunction and pain. Training like what you see in the mainstream gym culture likely produces the same results- decrepit posture, lower back pain, a knee brace, etc. Movement that replicates the mechanics of the way the human body moves day to day, has carry over to life outside of the gym. Ergo, pain free recreational activities and sports, no joint stiffness or muscle tightness, and an overall freedom to move!

How To Prevent Pain When Exercising

Age is not only a product of time, but also lifestyle choices. How you live your life now, manifests when you’re 30, 40, 60, 80, etc.

Those achey knees from barbell back squats or faulty running mechanics may worsen and require a knee replacement when you’re 50. But it’s not because you’re getting older, it’s because time is catching up with you from the way you behaved/lived/exercised leading up to your present age.

Experiencing pain or a hurt [insert joint here] after activity is your body telling you something’s wrong. It’s not about pushing past it with the “no pain, no gain” mentality. Push past your ego and admit your body isn’t the specimen you thought… and get to work on fixing the problem.

If you’re trying to live the life you want, pay attention to the little details that cumulate over your lifetime. That bum ankle slowly causes dysfunction further up the chain and 5-10 years later you wonder why you can’t function and perform like you used to.

Remove yourself from the injury cycle of exercising foolishly, hurting yourself, not exercising for several weeks, then going too hard for your body to keep up, making the old injury worse, sitting out for a month, and repeating this as a “normal” way of life. Work on preventative measures that are sustainable, no matter how old you are or what your current fitness level is, to keep yourself in the game called Life.

*Client Testimonials*

We do things differently here at SA Functional Fitness. We aren’t riding the fad on “functional fitness” to attract a specific market of customers, we’re codifying the entire spectrum of muscle function as it relates to the way humans move most and setting you up for real world function. This methodology allows us to simultaneously build muscle, increase strength, improve flexibility, and mobility when and where it counts. A byproduct of learning how to exercise correctly and using the right muscles enhances posture and alignment, restores muscle imbalances, eliminates joint pain, and fixes the body’s structure down to the biomechanical dysfunctions that cause pain and inefficient movement patterns in the first place, allowing for efficient recovery.

We train the entire spectrum of total body function to ensure your body is getting the proper stimulus to illicit the results you paid for! We practice what we preach, and we teach you the importance of the little details, and how, if left unresolved, the little things add up to major dysfunction throughout the entire kinetic chain. We’re patient and passionate personal trainers that enjoy teaching to all levels of function and fitness, with an emphasis on human biomechanics to restore optimal function to the body and the way it performs on a daily basis.

We aren’t your typical gym, we don’t waste time with arbitrary exercises, we develop your fundamentals of movement as it relates to the human body and the way it was designed to move, and then take it to the next level as your body adapts, increasingly challenging your structure with exercises in the gym, to help your body navigate reality with ease!

Don’t take our word for it; read what our clients are saying about our methods!

 

Muscle Imbalances

What is the point of doing a plank if your pelvis is stuck in an anterior shift and you can’t articulate the structure properly to engage the correct muscles? If you’ve never considered this before then you might be doing more harm than good in the long run. Although your intentions are solid, your execution might be causing you to miss your full potential. Muscle imbalances cause misalignment in the rest of the body and without addressing the asymmetries, you’re building dysfunctional muscle. Like slapping a coat of paint on a building that’s rotting and on the verge of collapse, the paint isn’t going to help the building remain standing, like replacing the load bearing walls with new materials would.

If you start thinking of your body as a structure rather than a piece of art, you’ll begin to tune into the missing pieces that are influencing your imbalances. The more imbalanced your muscles are, the less optimally you’ll move. As you begin to compensate when you move, you’ll start using the wrong muscles at the wrong time in the wrong way, and over time, pain and injury start to arise. It’s not because you’re getting older, it’s likely related to your biomechanics. Joint replacement is not normal, it’s indicative that your muscles aren’t working well enough to support your joints… aka do their job… and all of your movement contributed to force compounding in the joints until eventually they wore out and you needed a new one.

Exercising when your body is on the verge of collapse, like the building about to fall over, and not trying to fix the imbalances will contribute to declining biomechanics. Until you start training in relation to human biomechanics, think about how often we walk on a daily basis as compared to squatting, you’ll always reinforce your imbalances. Since humans walk as a fundamental function, it’s key to train this function to become more efficient at it. If your body doesn’t know how to walk well, then literally every step you take can produce further imbalance along your structure.

While the original example of the plank doesn’t relate to the walking patterns of human movement, it is an exercise, when done correctly, that serves as a means to an end. As your body is placed in the right alignment, although it may seem foreign or wrong at first, your core muscles and other supporting muscles will start to activating on a deeper level, until we condition them to work on that same level during other movements that closely resemble the movement patterns of reality- like walking.

We don’t want our clients to come into our personal training studio and be fed the same exercise ideas as typical gyms. Our mission is to teach our clients why they’re doing a particular exercise and how that exercise is going to help them heal their body, enhance their alignment, and ultimately prepare them for function in the real world. An exercise is only as effective as the position of all the joints, bony structures, and muscles in your body all at the same time- alignment is crucial to fix muscle imbalances. Maintaining alignment through the proper movement patterns is key to start restoring balance to the entire structure. If you want your structure to support you as you navigate reality, consider hiring a trainer that can educate you on the importance of sustainability and longevity versus getting stronger at a particular exercise, especially if that exercise masks your imbalances and doesn’t incorporate movement patterns that translate to real world movement.

Mindful vs. Mindless Exercise

More humans are starting to recognize and adopt the importance of regular exercise and general movement in their daily lives. With an increase in technology, transportation, and general automation there is less of a social requirement for being physically fit. However there is still, and always will be, a physical requirement for being fit and functional. If you are not, your body will let you know, in the form of aches and pains. Pain is not a normal sense that your body should become used to or learn to live with just because you’re getting older. Yes you may be getting older, but it’s important to realize that you’re not feeling worse as you age because another year has passed, you may be feeling worse because you’re moving less, moving inefficiently, exercising arbitrarily, and contributing to a poor posture with the exercise and lifestyle habits that you’ve created as the years pass.

It’s fair to say that age is only a number, and how you live your daily life is going to influence how you feel, no matter your age, or your physical condition. The human body is long over do for a relevant way of training that promotes wellbeing in life outside of the gym. Mindlessly exercising for the sake of performing a specific exercise better and getting stronger at a particular lift is irrelevant when it comes to enhancing your overall function in life outside of the gym. Sure, there is some carry over to general strength if you lift weights, but the carry over is minimal and the rate of injury or unexplained pains (“I’m just getting ‘older'”) usually increases. Unless you’re a genetically gifted human, the way most of the population trains is damaging in the long run.

Most of us know that weight machines are like training wheels for your bicycle and don’t really serve much of a purpose other than isolating muscles, but why would you spend time in the gym isolating muscles, when in reality, your muscles are programmed to integrate as a unit to facilitate movement. Hence the arbitrary, irrelevant way of training that the fitness industry has mis-created. Even the free weights are misused by most gym goers because the lifting patterns don’t respect human evolution- ie; walking, running, and throwing. The muscles of the human body were designed around these fundamental functions and every rep that you do of an exercise that doesn’t enhance these functions is detrimental in the long run. Detrimental to your overall health and wellness, from knee pain to poor digestion.

Most exercises prescribed in the commercial gym culture and traditional physical therapy practices is patch work for a failing structure. When gravity is compressing you all day long and then you go and squat with a bar on your back, that exercise only adds to the compression or your vertebral discs and eventually lead to overall compression- from your visceral organs (hence, poor digestion) to your muscles and tendons being a compressed mess (hence chronic muscle tightness and stiffness). If you can learn how to decompress as you exercise (hint: Sling Training) then you’re becoming more efficient at movement that matters and your body becomes less compensatory- physically and physiologically. No amount of digestive enzymes, knee braces, or arbitrary exercise will fix your body and your body’s problems, it will only treat the symptoms. Much like a band-aid on a gun shot wound would work…

If you’re the kind of person who priorities their health and wellness and wants to genuinely fix whatever issues you’re dealing with, whether chronic and nobody has been able to help, or acute and you are looking for long term relief, contact us today. Our consultation/ evaluation process is low cost and worth your time to evolve the way you exercise, recover, and live. We’ll teach you the difference between exercising to exercise, and utilizing exercises that actually translate your time spent in the gym, to being adequately prepared to adapt your body to the ever changing environment outside of the gym.