Unique, Different, Relevant

A lot comes to mind when users experience the style of training we implement, it’s “weird, unconventional, confusing” yet “applicable, practical, sustainable, and for a purpose.”

We utilize Functional Patterns techniques and methodologies to produce changes on the human body that forms of traditional training and therapies aim to do, but can’t. It boils down to what is relevant and what is not… aka useless.

Are back squats, bench presses, mini band walks, and clam shells making the most of time spent exercising or rehabbing? From personal and observational experience, no. They might help, a little bit, for some strength and general movement to avoid being a couch potato, but the risks outweigh the benefits, and the carry over is minimal compared to what the human body actually needs.

As pictured, the way humans move most is via contralateral reciprocation- opposing limbs connecting. When one leg is forward, the other is back. When the leg is back, that same arm is forward. Exercise patterns should aim to respect this fundamental concept of movement, as it relates to the human body. IF we only had an upper body, then the isolation of the bench press would be more appropriate. Rather our pec muscles connect through fascia across our body via the oblique slings, to the opposing leg muscles of the hip and inner thigh. Isolation destroys these connections and teaches the body to work in isolation, when in reality it integrates to function as an efficient unit.

The human body evolved to walk, run, and throw. Thus our muscular connections developed to support these functions, so training the body in isolation continuously without training the entire muscular chain, and the chains it connects to, is a recipe for a degenerated body.

Integrated movement is one thing, but integrating your muscles through exercise patterns that mirror the way the body moves in real life is the recipe for a fully functioning, high performing body in life outside of the gym.

Moving to stay healthy and avoid a sedentary lifestyle is beneficial, and as mentioned earlier, the benefits are enhanced when the proper training stimulus is implemented. The risks of training your body the way the mainstream gym culture advertises leads to some muscle strength and overall muscle mass, but at the expense of joint pain, lower back stiffness, having to wear a knee brace, and a general decline in your capabilities in activities outside of the gym.

Whereas movement that replicates the way the human body moves on a day to day basis enhances your quality of life in the real world. Recreational activities like golf and tennis can be played without aches and pains, your muscles learn to leverage your motion rather than unnecessary strain on the joints as levers, and an overall freedom with your everyday movement manifests. In other words, the benefits of exercise extend far beyond the exercise itself and last long after the exercise is over.

The way we integrate the muscles during movement has a lasting impact and carry over to reality is because our focus is on human biomechanics. Relevant movement that conditions the body according to your biological blueprint rather than arbitrarily lifting weights balancing on one foot and raising a dumbbell out to the side at the same time. There are multiple ways to train multiple muscles at once but only one way to train the muscles for a purpose beyond exercise.

The arbitrary exercise pattern has minimal carry over other than simply challenging your coordination, balance, and some multiplanar muscle activation. The intent is right but the execution won’t support the desired outcome. Creating a movement sequence to build tension from the ground up, rotating your body to create a lever to lift the weight overhead at the end of the rotation, and raising an opposing leg to the weight over head to counter balance the tensions and produce contralateral connections throughout the body. While maintaining proper core pressure, leg, arm, pelvis, and ribcage alignment before, during, and after the movement. Following a sequence to produce the right muscle tensions at the right time. All through patterns that your body moves through daily, so your muscles are programmed to work automatically rather than having to consciously be aware of your glutes firing properly during a run or on the tennis courts.

Wow that’s a lot to think about! And it’s necessary, if you’re legitimately concerned about aging well, performing optimally, and living life without working through pain. We don’y mindlessly count reps, every rep is corrected to make the most of the movement and connect your brain and body in new ways. Over time your body learns to self correct the fundamentals of human movement and we are able to add more variables to the mix and maximize the muscle function and carry it over to your daily living.

This isn’t your typical gym, we educate our clients on the importance of why moving intentionally is necessary, how to manage your pain by reprogramming better movement capabilities, what parts of the body connect with other parts to make up an efficient whole, when to move a muscle to create a contraction and a pairing with the opposing muscle, and who is in control of it all- your mind and your body.

Our Top 5 Health Hacks

Good health is something most of us strive for and, if you want to take your health to the next level, it goes deeper than nutrition and exercise. These tips, as simple as they sound, will elevate your health and enhance your overall quality of life. They manage issues like stress and anxiety, illness and depression, energy and recovery, and pain and wellbeing. You can combine some of these health hacks or just implement one at a time!

  • Breathing is a critical foundation of health, if you can’t breath you won’t live for very long. Breathing properly will ensure you send oxygen to all the cells in your body and help remove carbon dioxide buildup. This exchange of air will help regulate physiological functions like heart beat and blood pressure, as well as reduce stress and manage anxiety. The best way to achieve this is to practice diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing- specifically The Wim Hof Method. This can be done with zero equipment, all you need is your lungs! You’ll perform a few rounds of belly breathing and retention that will help supply oxygen to your body and brain. If you do this right, then it’s like “getting high on your own supply.” Check out the link to see the full break down on how to perform this breathing exercise properly.
  • Sunlight helps regulate our body’s biological clock, which is responsible for regulating sleep and energy. When we’re outside during the day our eyes are constantly absorbing natural light from the sun, telling us that we should be up and working. Bright light before bed will trick the body into thinking that it’s still day time and that we should be awake and functioning. When the body gets tricked then it won’t secrete the hormones necessary to induce a deep, restful sleep. As a rule of thumb; get outside during the day (morning/evening are best), without sunglasses, because they block our eyes from absorbing the natural light (unless you are being blinded by the sun when you’re driving), and minimize exposure to artificial light at night (phone, computer, and tv screens, especially before bed).
  • Grounding or “earthing” is when your body connects with the Earth’s natural energy for an easy health boost. Walking or standing outside barefoot (or with socks) allows us to receive a charge of energy that makes us feel better. Connecting with the Earth can mean the difference between feeling good and not so good, having a little energy and a lot of energy, or sleeping well and not so well. Shoes can block our connection with the Earth’s energy, so walking around your home barefoot or standing outside without shoes is something that requires little effort and offers a huge benefit to your health. Try standing barefoot in a soft patch of grass or cool sand!
  • Cold Therapy is a healing technique that has been proven to reduce inflammation, speed up recovery, improve your immune response, promote better sleep, and help with focus. It’s as simple as it sounds, just like icing a sprained ankle, except you’re “icing” your entire body. Rather than taking an ice bath, we recommend starting off with a cold shower. Start by taking a regular shower, soap up, wash off. But before you get out, turn the water to the coldest setting. Keep breathing and slowly introduce your body to the cold water. Start with your arms and your legs, then let the water run over your back and shoulders, and finally on your head. Begin gradually and stay under the cold water for around 15 seconds, and slowly increase your time up to a few minutes. Eventually you can turn your cold shower into an “ice bath” by getting into the shower first and then turning the water to cold right away. Most importantly, make sure that you continue to breath while you’re exposing yourself to colder temperatures. You’ll find cold therapy to be very stimulating for your nervous system, like a natural cup of coffee.
  • Myofascial Release is like a deep tissue massage that you do yourself and is the best way to manage pain, improve mobility, and help with recovery. It’s like foam rolling but more intense and intentional. For example, the source of lower back pain may be the result of “tight” hip flexors. Rolling out the front and sides of your thighs could provide more relief for your lower back than constantly massaging or stretching the area that’s in pain. Too much stretching causes our muscles to loose their elasticity, leading to poor function in the long run. Instead, the release will hydrate the muscle tissue and help dissolve any fascial adhesions (“knots”) to promote mobility in that area of the body. Here are some videos discussing the best way to perform the releases that have the biggest carry over into mobilizing your muscles and managing your pain. When done properly, MFR can equip the body to respond better to stress. When you roll across a tender spot on your body the tendency is to tense up and stop breathing, so it’s important to breathe until the uncomfortable sensation (physical stress) dissipates. Over time this will train your body to breathe when it encounters stressful situations, rather than shutting down and letting the stress overwhelm you.

Following these tips as part of a healthy lifestyle will improve your physiological function, especially when used in conjunction with correct exercise and proper nutrition. All of these tips can be used on a daily basis to enhance aspects of your health, from mental to physical, whether you have time to workout and eat well or not. The best part is that you don’t need a bunch of fancy equipment so you can implement these health hacks anywhere, anytime. Obviously for the cold therapy you’ll need a shower or some ice and for the myofascial release you’ll need a tool like a lacrosse ball or foam roller. But you don’t need access to a gym or have to be physically fit to practice these healthy habits. If you’re really efficient you can spend your time outside, barefoot, breathing, doing MFR, and then coming inside to take a cold shower 🙂 New morning routine? Do it!

Exercise for Health, Not Appearance

Exercise motives that are based strictly on looking good or losing weight negatively affect our health. Everybody has a different idea about what they believe to be a healthy looking body, but if looks are the only reason for exercising, that can limit the potential for progress in other aspects of our health. Exercise is a great tool for physical strength, mental well-being, managing pain, improving our quality of life, and preventative healthcare.

When our only objective is to lose weight when we exercise this can lead us on a path of body destruction by doing whatever it takes to lose that last 5 pounds. This can lead to overtraining, poor form, building bad habits, and crash dieting. It really is true that “slow and steady” wins the race. We have to think of our health as something long term and not something that is going to be fixed overnight or maintained without continuous effort.

The quick fix is enticing for everyone because we want our efforts to pay off immediately. When all of our hard work doesn’t illicit results right away we start getting frustrated and turn to magic pills, not eating enough, and then eating too much, exercising so intensely that our form turns poor and our chance of injury increases, or we just get fed up and throw in the towel all together. Instead of eating a little less at each meal and exercising a little more at each workout and building habits that we can maintain, we sabotage our success by trying to change everything at once and then expecting that change to manifest into accomplishing our goals right then and there.

Instead of having goals based only on physical aspects of health, like trying to look like the fitness models in magazines. Create goals that enhance other aspects of your health. Start off small, like trading french fries for a salad, and do it for the benefit of adding more veggies to your diet instead of doing it because it’s less calories so you know you’ll lose weight. If your goals change from losing weight to eating more vegetables you’re more likely to choose meals that are lower in calories anyway, so you’re still likely to lose weight but that’s not your only focus and therefore not the only benefit. By eating more vegetables you can experience natural energy through the day instead of feeling run down, with the new energy you don’t have to wire yourself with caffeine, and so you don’t get dehydrated as often. So now instead of beating your body up to lose a few pounds, you’re building your body up by fueling it with good food and staying hydrated. Habits like these will inevitably lead to healthy weight loss, one of your goals, but not the only one.

If you prioritize other aspects of your health as your motivation for exercising then it’s more likely that you’ll accomplish your goals. From losing weight and getting stronger to managing anxiety and living a fit and healthy lifestyle. Life is short but if your health is compromised then the days drag on and quality of life starts to suffer. Exercising with the right intent will sustain your body and your health to enjoy everything life has to offer for years to come. Keep yourself in the game and take care of your body to promote longevity and function. The days of exercising to look good are fading and the era of exercising to look and feel HEALTHY is in demand!