Posts Tagged ‘Function First’

November Client of the Month

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

We love to see our clients transition from corrective exercise to full fitness activities without limitations or hesitations. We are so happy to have Eric Brittain as part of the Function First family!

Thank you for your dedication to your health, your consistency with your efforts and the amazing attitude you bring to every class. You uplift all those around you!

David Snodgrass Client of the Month

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

I started with function First in April of 2012. My wife was already attending and encouraged me to give the program a chance. My experience with ‘gyms’ had been less than productive, so my first response wasn’t exactly positive, but I decided to give it a chance. As it ends up, this was a totally different experience for me. Instead of a dry, boring routine, I was immediately part of an enthusiastic and friendly group of people. I was totally pleased with the guidance and direction of the instructors. The routines were creative and always changing. Nothing boring about it!

Being age 64, I was beginning to feel less energetic with less mobility and more discomfort. I knew I needed to add some exercise to my daily routine. But, not the typical lift some weights and run a while on the treadmill. The Function First instructors solved that problem with what seems to be an endless supply of varying exercises. I also soon discovered the ability of the staff to be able to modify the group routines to fit my personal needs.

Private Sessions were invaluable in starting me in the correct direction for better physical health. Issues my physician was trying to mask were alleviated with the appropriate exercise problems. I’ve found the instructors to be incredibly knowledgeable, concerned, and capable.

Function First has allowed me to continue with an active lifestyle of hiking, back packing water-skiing and boating.

Dave Snodgrass

Happy David

Happy David

7 Reasons Your Natural-Outdoor Workouts are Bad for Business

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

In a recent Youtube comment on one of my Core-Tex™ videos, the commenter stated, “I’m in the fitness industry myself, and it still disappoints me that we continue to develop stuff like this when we need to be out in the outdoors challenging our core for real.” On the same day I read a very similar comment regarding another product on a different web site. These comments are in addition to the multiple comments with the same point of view that appear from fitness professional daily on Facebook.

Really? Is that your earth shattering insight into making the world a fitter more functional place? All these back to nature workouts would be great if our society was not what it is today. Our movement repertoire has “devolved” in the last 20 years or more.

As the modern history of fitness shows us, the pendulum always swings way too far in one direction before sanity returns. Most outdoor-only, “natural” movement purists have not been around long enough professionally to have seen the evolution of where the industry is today. We leave behind that which has no value and we utilize all options at our disposal in the best interest of our client.

Don’t get me wrong. I am all for getting outside and using the body in the many forms of play or workouts. When we started Function First way back in 1994, we were doing what we called “Adventure Workouts”. These consisted of full body workouts at a local high school obstacle course, trail runs and strength stations we created in Torrey Pines State Park and full body beach workouts-all of which preceded the boot camp boom that came many years later. We were doing outdoor functional movements long before the word “boot camp” was part of the fitness vernacular.
Dumbell monkey
The facts are, you cannot do everything you want to do with all of your clients all the time outside with no tools to add to the mix. To imply that we just need to get outside and move lacks a thorough understanding of the client/athlete that we all work with.

Why do we need Olympic Training Centers with state of the art strength and conditioning facilities? Why don’t those with back injuries just go out and chop wood for rehab? I’ll give you my top 7 reasons why we need more than just a get-back- to- nature workout. From the practical to the technical, here’s why we need our tools:

7. Your clients won’t want it all of the time. Sure, they might enjoy one or two workouts outside a week. But if that is all you have to offer, I can guarantee they are going somewhere else for their workouts on the other days. And if they do only want to train outside, you have an extremely small customer base to draw from.

6. Weather. If you do outdoor only workouts in Minnesota, how’s business in January? How about Phoenix in August? Not likely that these places are very conducive those times of year for outdoor exercise. If we want to help instill consistency in our clients, we need to be consistent in our offerings.

5. Perception. Let’s face it, a bare bones workout in the middle of park can be perceived as a bare bones budget. People can do push-ups, planks and body weight lunges at home. Clients might perceive a lack of individuality and customization to their programming.

4. Gravity. There are limits in determining the force vector best suited for the client. Gravity is the constant as we know, but gravity alone limits what direction we want the force vector to act on the body. Sure, the more fit the participant the more possible options. But again, you limit your market size and still have a finite number of movements.

3. Variety. The mind and body love variety for learning and engagement. If you would like to compare your outdoor-only exercise library with my exercise library just let me know. How many ground based push-varieties can you come up with? Regardless of your answer, introducing one of any number of pieces of equipment trumps that because we can do all of yours plus those with equipment.

2. Not-so-natural. As someone who works with clients with musculoskeletal challenges, what is often referred to as “natural” movements isn’t so natural anymore. Years of dysfunction are layered on top of and intertwined with muscles and connective tissue. And even though the nervous system determines when and to what extent a muscle fires, the physical characteristics of the muscle and its surrounding fascia determine whether or not it can execute. Send that feedback to the nervous system regularly and it adapts accordingly. We see 35 year olds who can’t decelerate down stairs without a handrail. Not a chance they can successfully execute walking lunges across a field.

1. Specificity. To be able to provide the best possible programming requires designing around the client’s needs, goals and limitations. We do this by manipulating the environment. If we know what the body needs/wants but it can’t get there on its own, we create the environment for success using the tools in our toolbox. Whether it’s influencing a joint position, increasing the load or adding novelty to the proprioceptive system, the right tool for the right job makes all the difference in the world.

All too often a client’s body is asked to cash a check it does not have the funds for. With the right tools and mastery of the training environment, we can lead our clients down a path to movements of all kinds in all places. So many great tools are conducive to outdoor workouts and others are not. We should not limit ourselves through a single-minded philosophy. It’s not about us. It’s about the person writing that check to us.

Easy Ergonomics to Stop the Pain

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

ACL and Knee Rehab Exercises with the Core-Tex

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Ways to use the Core-Tex to assist in the rehabilitation process for ACL and other knee injuries. The unique motions of the Core-Tex provide excellent proprioceptive stimulation to the rehabilitating limb.

Keep Your Hands to Yourself

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

What happens when a practitioner places their hands on a client or patient in a purely professional manner? Just like anything else, it depends on your perspective AND the expectations of your client or patient. A chiropractor is likely to respond that that is the only way they can perform an adjustment. A cardiologist may say that she has no need to touch the patient. Exercise professionals may say that it helps facilitate what they are doing with their clients.

The power of the human touch cannot be underestimated. To the client/patient it may bring a sense of connection with you, confidence in your ability and reassurance. The opposite may be experienced by the patient whose doctor provides a diagnosis only through oral communication and visual observation and never touches the patient.

I believe that some good and some bad come from the hands on approach. The chiropractors, physical therapists and massage therapists clearly have a need to contact their patients with their hands to practice their disciplines. The hands are used as both an assessment tool and to deliver an intervention. The accuracy of a skilled practitioner is used for reducing joint subluxations, mobilizing joints and relaxing and manipulating soft tissue. All of which have been scientifically proven to be beneficial to the patient.

The exercise professional may need to place their hands on the client for assessment purposes such as measuring body composition or pelvic landmarks. Some trainers will also use their hands to provide manual resistance for certain exercises and over-pressure to aid in flexibility. And at times, the hands are placed on the client to guide them through desired movement patterns.

With so much to gain how can there be a downside? What if the question was not what was provided to the patient with contact but instead, what is the patient being deprived of? And this question can completely change our perspective on the “hands on” approach to care.
hands on therapy
Whatever is provided to the patient/client by the practitioner removes the need for the patient/client to do it themself. We obviously don’t want people going around adjusting or attempting to adjust their own necks or manipulating their own gleno-humeral joints. We do want an attitude and belief system that ALL practitioners are simply adjuncts to the individual’s own abilities. We are facilitators.

Could chiropractic care and manual therapy create learned helplessness? Do clinics relying predominantly on passive modalities like ultrasound and electrical stimulation fool the patient (and themselves) that the modality is making them better? Is a client psychologically and emotionally dependent on the trainer if she refuses to work out unless the trainer takes her through a workout?

If I ask a client what he does regularly for his health and he tells me chiropractic care, I respond by telling him that is what the chiropractor is doing for his health care. I then ask again, “What are YOU doing?”

Could this kind of learned helplessness and dependency even be contributing to the obesity epidemic? It may not be that big of a leap from the dependent patient to the obese individual. If my healthcare consists solely of people doing something to me, how can I be expected to eat right and exercise on my own? The psychosocial behavior of anyone who is not responsible or response-able for their own musculoskeletal health will ultimately suffer from comorbidities.
This certainly is not a knock on any kind of manual care. I’ve personally benefitted from chiropractic care, manual physical therapy, acupuncture and Structural Integration. Of course I also have a specific corrective exercise strategy I follow along with my general fitness routine.

I believe one of the greatest gifts we give our corrective exercise clients at Function First is the ability to produce the same result at home that we produce with them in our facility. That is why we only need to see our clients once a week. They are expected to continue with their home program daily. If they don’t do their homework-they are fired. This is an expectation of all our clients before they begin with us for a corrective exercise program.

For this reason, the referral from me to a chiropractor is much easier than the referral from the chiropractor to Function First. Our clients are already engaged in a comprehensive corrective exercise program. The chiropractic or other manual care is an adjunct to the exercises and can often help us expedite the results.

A referral to Function First often requires a complete paradigm shift for the person referred to us. They now have to go to work on themselves. And quite frankly, many long-term recipients of manual care just aren’t willing to do that.

We might say people are lazy and don’t want to do the work. Or, can we say that people have been conditioned that they don’t need to do the work?

Corrective Exercise #16

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

(Due to a server crash, this post is being reposted after originally being posted on April 17th, 2010)

We take the Thomas Test that is used for hip flexor contractures and create a beneficial corrective exercise with it. A great way to lengthen the hip flexors for certain populations.

Is Your Body a 1974 Pinto?

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

(Due to a server crash, this is being reposted after originally being posted on February 17th, 2010)

If it feels so right, how can it be so wrong?

If the only vehicle that you’ve ever driven in your entire life was a 1974 Pinto, then your only frame of reference for a car is a 1974 Pinto. As far as you know, all cars feel every tiny bump in the road, rattle when moving over 55 miles per hour and take 3 people to turn the steering wheel. Then one day a kind friend of yours hands you the keys to a 2010 Mercedes SL 600. Wow! You have just experienced automotive engineering excellence.

What if your body is a 1974 Pinto? Then that is your only frame of reference of how a human body feels when it moves. You can’t step out of your beaten up body and into the body of a Mercedes SL 600. And because you are unaware how good you could feel or how efficient you could move, you accept life as a 1974 Pinto.

From an aesthetic stand point, we can look at someone else and say “I want to look like that” (or “I don’t want to look like that!”). By looking in the mirror, we can see how we compare visually. But movement and kinesthetic awareness (awareness of your body parts and their relationship to one another in space) is not something we can evaluate in the mirror.

Most of what we do with movement every day is done unconsciously and automatic. We might initiate the process consciously but once the action begins, most of it is on autopilot. For example, you might see that your shoe is untied and consciously make the decisions to bend down to tie it. But once the movement starts you’re not thinking about how much to bend from the ankle versus the hip. Those movements are based on your existing, unconscious movement catalog (even if they are those of a 1974 Pinto).
74 Pinto

When you are learning a new exercise or dance move, nearly all of the learning is initially through visual and auditory information. The movement is demonstrated (visual) and the cues are spoken (auditory). The kinesthetic part of learning or what we feel works off its existing 1974 Pinto point of reference and are not something we can evaluate in the mirror.

When people learn a new movement, they often miss out on some of the critical kinesthetic cues the body provides. This is because when you learn a new movement or move, the tendency is to be more concerned with the final outcome of the movement, versus what’s the best route to getting there. In other words, the focus is more on what needs to be accomplished (i.e. tying your shoe) rather than the quality of the movement. Therefore, you end up working from a foundation of movements that you are already doing wrong, even though it feels so “normal”.

So what can you do about this? First, it is important to understand that the best way to influence how our body moves is with subtle movements. This is how our nervous system detects change from the status quo. A good example of this is with corrective exercise. The precisions and control of corrective exercise movements allow the nervous system to recognize differences in formerly familiar movements. This is opposed to rapid, dynamic movements that essentially generate momentum with the bigger muscles in the body. Granted, you won’t get your heart rate up the same way, but that is not the purpose.

Corrective exercises will help “reboot” your software so that your body can ultimately learn to do things in a new and improved way. With this your body starts to receive kinesthetic cues that are more like a Mercedes and less like a Pinto.

Corrective Exercise #15

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

(Due to a server crash, this is being reposted after originally being posted on January 20th, 2010)

As you are reading this, my guess is that your thoracic spine and the lower cervical (if not all the cervical segments) are in flexion. So I’ve taken another of the exercises from the Pain-Free Program for Corrective Exercise #15.

As always, I hope to offer you a little more insight and detailed information on an exercise/posture like this that goes way beyond the obvious.
Click on the image to watch this short, informative video.

What’s your balance got to do with your pain?

Monday, April 6th, 2009

Are you as amazed as I am by some of the feats that performers of Cirque du Soleil can pull off? Is this a God given talent or thousands of hours of practice? I am sure it is both.

Balance is one of those physical traits that are subject to the, “if you don’t use it, you lose it” principle. It is also a trait that can be dramatically improved upon when progressively challenged.

Balance plays a critical role in athletic and life performance. Great athletes have exceptional balance that allows them to quickly change direction, effectively recover from movement errors and position their bodies in ways that maximizes performance and minimizes the risk of injury.

Balance also plays a key role in our everyday safety. This is clearly evident in the unfortunate frequency of falls and injuries to the senior population. What is even more unfortunate is that many of these falls can be prevented.

But balance is not just about avoiding falling over. It’s also about helping us find the most stable or safe position when our environment around us changes. How quickly and effectively we react to those changes can be the difference between a shot of adrenaline and a herniated disc in the back.

Balance equates to control. Lack of balance=lack of control. And like a car unable to stop properly or control its steering accurately, the body with poor balance is an accident waiting to happen.

Regardless of our age, we all have the same basic mechanisms that give us balance or help us restore balance. These can be thought of as information gatherers that tell our muscles what to do. These information gatherers include:

* Vision
* Inner ear
* Stretch receptors in the muscles
* Movement receptors in the joints
* Touch and pressure receptors on the skin (particularly the soles of the feet)

The difference between great balance and not-so-great balance is dependent on two main factors:

1. How fast our nervous system receives and processes the signals from our information gatherers
2. How quickly and efficiently our muscles act on that information to make the appropriate adjustments

The wonderful news is that both of these factors can be improved upon. Doing so will improve performance for some and reduce the risks of injury or falls for others.

Balance training goes way beyond standing on one leg statically or standing on one leg while performing other movements. Single leg standing probably falls in the area between beginning and intermediate balance work. Standing still on one leg is closer to the beginning scale and moving your upper body while on one leg would be more toward intermediate.

Beginning balance training might include just standing still with the eyes closed to remove the outer visual references from helping. Another beginning balance work might be to tilt the head back. Doing sore moves the contribution of the inner ear for balance. Combining these or doing these on one leg would certainly increase the level of difficulty.

Intermediate balance training might include active one-legged exercises such as lunges or directional changes on one leg. Intermediate balance work might also include maintaining static stability while supported on an unstable piece of equipment such as a wobble board or physio-ball.

More advanced balance training might include explosive work on one leg such as hopping. Adding dynamic movement to the unstable apparatus will increase the level of difficulty significantly. For example, doing squats while standing on a BOSU ball or lunges on a balance beam.

The Core-Tex(TM), a new piece of equipment that I have developed works on reaction. This type of equipment challenges you by taking you out of balance within a limited area and requiring your nervous system to immediately react to that dynamically.

Balance exercises should enhance musculoskeletal stability and improve performance for sport or life. Therefore, never progress yourself until you have demonstrated a proficiency at a less challenging level. Frustration, compensation (and even humiliation!) will result if you don’t progress properly.