Monday, May 7, 2018

Actually getting results is worth it

I was at a community rec center for a kids' thing this weekend. While I was waiting I watched a fitness class that was in session and was horrified at what I saw.

I need to start this by saying that I don't want to point at any individual and say they were doing the wrong thing. There was a basketball court full of well-meaning folks who got up early on a Saturday morning with hopes of getting fitter. I can't complain about that. The people who teach the classes have to be making nearly nothing or volunteering because this is a community center with near-zero drop-in prices.

The workout was both dangerous and ineffective.

This was a "tabata" class. I've ranted before about how everyone gets tabata wrong. Tabata does not belong in a fitness class session.  At best it's 4-minutes of road work and then you go home, and even then, it's only good in a narrow range of metrics. But what was worse was that the tabata cycle was (as best as I could tell from watching) dumbbell Romanian deadlifts.  The instructor even said "you should be feeling this in your lower back."  RDLs are best heavy and slow with a barbell, not under time pressure for speed, and you better not feel them in your back - they're hamstring work!

So here you have a bunch of well-meaning folks getting up early. They pay their $5 drop-in, they walk away with a sore back thinking they got a good workout, and then they come back next week for more. Everyone pats themselves on the back, the community center is happy because people are "just out there moving."  The participants actually thought they got a good workout. Everyone just wasted their time and money.

It's not just this particular place that's the problem. It's the industry in general. No one wants to call this out as ineffective at best (and dangerous at worst). We don't want to hurt anyone's feeling or discourage anyone from working out. As long as you're trying, it's all okay. (Same with "eating in moderation...")

I can get people fitter and stronger (and healthier!) in a very short time. Some folks (who have made great progress) are here only 2 days a week! It's all about the minimum effective dose (of the right stuff!). You need to be smart and safe and do things that actually get results. Unfortunately, because of the face time and space required, that's expensive. I can't run a class full of 50 people because 1) it wouldn't be safe, and 2) that much equipment would break the bank.

The hard part is convincing folks that it's cheaper to pay more for results than to pay $5 for a feel-good exercise class. Swinging a kettlebell for 10 minutes isn't sexy, but a 1-hour tabata core sweat fitness class is!

And don't complain about today's squats - that's what actually makes you stronger...

Today's Workout

with a barbell:

squat 5-3-2-3x2
5 pull-ups between sets

then, with a kettlebell:

press 5x(2+2) heavy
double clean 3x5 light
half snatch 3x(5+5) light
double front squat 5x5 medium