Up as my first Guest blogger and very good friend we have Tom Brose. Tom is the owner and head coach of Crossfit DC. He is also the manager of City Fitness here in DC. I can't begin to tell you all that I've gleaned from Tom. I asked him to write about what was on his mind. Thanks so much Tom. I for one hear what your saying!
Strength is a Right
In our fitness community, where PRs, CFT Scores and Fran times are lingo de rigueur, we have lost touch with reality. Sometimes we get so caught up in specific modalities of training or technique that we have no understanding of “normal” people. The sad fact is, most people feel that strength is at best a luxury, and in reality unattainable. There are amazing benefits to health, lifestyle and attitude that come with strength, but a majority of Americans have placed this lower on the list of priorities than cleaning their gutters.
When we talk about strength, we need to discuss what that means. A double bodyweight deadlift is great, but in reality not a viable goal for everyone, or a necessity. Being able to pick up a heavy object safely and efficiently is. Olympic weightlifting competitions may not be in your future, but that does not diminish the need to be able to go from standing over an object, to holding it, to putting it overhead. Strength means being able to go through life unencumbered by weakness, not limited by the inability or fear of relatively normal activities. It also builds confidence, not just in its inherent ability, but also in ones discipline and perseverance. Become strong takes hard work, and the accomplishment resonates within.
There are always roadblocks. Several factors come into play stopping even those inclined to put in the work. The absolute worst comes hidden, from those entrusted to help. I’ll let my rage build up and save that for last.
I have to admit, I can be oblivious to peoples situations myself. Browsing the blog of a CFDC regular, I came across an entry talking about her experiences, about a year into CrossFit. She was unsure what to expect when she first contacted me, but was happy to find that I took her desire to get strong seriously. Turns out, she had always wanted to lift. Family, friends and coworkers told her she was crazy, she was too small and it was unrealistic. It never occurred to me that she couldn’t. Our first session she worked with 5 lb. dumbbells. After one year, lots of effort, and a little coaching, she has pull-ups and a deadlift approaching 200 lbs. Take her seriously!
Worse than people who don’t know any better are the “health professionals” who fail to deliver when entrusted. Nothing is worse (at least in this realm) than the personal trainer or physical therapist that hold back the clients success. In fairness, a large chunk of my income comes from personal training, and I have a lot of respect for some therapists. But the standard seems to be stringing people along, with little progress and an endless string of gimmicks. Honestly, I think most trainers don’t have the confidence to teach the squat, deadlift, clean etc. Lacking in integrity, they quickly chalk up basic compound movements as “unsafe”, and continue with 3lb partial ROM side raises standing on one foot. Eventually, the client will pick up an object significantly more than 3 lbs (possibly with both feet on the floor) and be woefully unprepared. I already hinted that this is a pet peeve, so here it is: trainers who fail to get their clients actually strong are not only a waste; they are sabotaging the client’s best intentions. Be ashamed!
Physical therapists fall in the same realm. Their success should be judged by how quickly they get the client out of therapy, not how long they can keep the insurance going. I know, I am bitter about this, but here is why. Its common for me to meet gym members who are in the process of physical therapy, usually from someone eminently qualified because “ he works with the Redskins/ Wizards/ blah blah local sports team”.
Almost always, their specially designed one of a kind program (which any variance from may cause death) looks like this: leg extension, hamstring curl, dead bug, and maybe a resistance tube thrown in. Back, knees, shoulders, whatever the injury, the program is all the same. And the therapists have made sure to warn them not to do anything else, often advising to cancel their gym memberships. Signs of osteoporosis? Stop doing weights and come in to the PT clinic for 15 minutes on the treadmill, billing what, $80-100?
Where are the biomechanically savvy, work out themselves therapists? I went to Kaiser PT, and the therapist had to tip herself sideways to get up from a chair. I want Iron Maven, not a couch potato working on me. Please, therapists, take the time to care!
Strength is not an extravagance, or luxury. It is part of living an active healthy life. It is not something you have to be born with, and it is not a just young persons game. Strength comes from effort, knowledge and dedication. Strength is a fundamental right for everyone.