By Nick Lynch
The Eldars in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings seldom give advice because they know even the wisest among them cannot foresee an outcome. If we think about what advice actually is, or what it implies, we might notice that advice is directive, it tells rather than inquires, it presumes to know what will happen if one follows the advice or, if one chooses not to.
When it comes to training, the truth is, the majority of ‘expert’ fitness trainers do not subscribe to an Eldarin philosophy and, while we’re at it, the majority of fitness clients don’t care.
Clients usually come to trainers with a goal in mind, could be someone is looking for improved athletic performance, improved muscle tone, injury resolution, or any number of other reasons, but one thing is clear, each client wants to experience movement toward their goals.
An ‘expert’ fitness trainer looks at those goals and decides on a program, a one size fits all plan. Chances are it will work for some, but probably not all. The expert focuses on the goal, not necessarily the person, and looks for a program that will fit the goal. When it works, the ‘expert’ trainer believes it’s because of a particular system of training. When it fails to hit the mark, when the client loses motivation, or experiences an injury, the ‘expert’ blames the client.
You need to know, that’s not my approach. I prefer to practice a beginner’s mind and apply the Eldarin philosophy to my work. What that means is from the moment you enter my door, I begin assessing you as you are today.
As the session begins we talk, we stretch and as I look and listen to you in the moment, I become aware of your energy levels and your emotions as they are today. Because energy and emotions fluctuate from day to day, getting a reading before we begin is critical.
Your words provide me with feedback as to how you’re feeling emotionally, and your body shows me how the emotions will allow for certain movements vs. others.
An example of this intuitive approach toward training on a squat day means I am noticing how your body signals me that you are ready for squats. From there, it’ll show me what kind of squats it’s geared up for: heavy, light, high rep, low rep, front squat or back squat, wide stance, normal stance or narrow stance. For the duration of your session, I read your emotions and develop what will work, in response to your personal state.
Workouts based on your personal state are workouts uniquely designed to fit your needs on the day you come in. That’s one reason I don’t write programs and post them on the Internet. A general workout, once posted, can look like advice. But how do I advise someone when I can’t see how their body responds?
Most of us want something simple. But how do we interpret simple when human beings are such complex creatures? Many ‘experts’ still don’t realize that feelings and emotions dictate not only how we move, but also, how we will respond to stress. While it is true that exercise is one form of stress that challenges our movements, if we take a broader view of who is exercising and what that individual’s particular response is on an energetic and emotional level, it puts the stress of exercise into a whole body context.
In my 17-years as a trainer, I’ve discovered that when I tap into the energy and emotions of a client, using it as a training gauge, I can develop a personally unique plan not only for each client, but also, each session. I have found it to be the most sound and productive way to challenge movement while making sessions safe, effective and fun.
When we find your body’s groove, your body begins to respond in kind. It decides to give you everything you need to be successful in sport and in life.
Let’s look at it from a different perspective, that of a client with a goal. If you’re a young athlete and your goal is to go to the National Hockey League, I’ll say, “OK, it’s possible.” I know it’s possible because there are people in the NHL and you’re a person. I’ll begin to treat you like a person whose going into the NHL. What I won’t do is treat you like a hockey player. I won’t give you ‘expert’ advice on how to develop a hockey player’s skill set.
Rather, I’ll treat you as a person with a unique set of skills. Skills that we know about, and those that have yet to be discovered. Chances are it’s those qualities, unique to you, that will set you apart and make you marketable to coaches and teams.
Starting each session with a beginner’s mind means I never stop reading you. I’m sensing your experiences, your influences, your world view and your personal passions. Why? Because it is in these experiences that your body learned to move. From here, your body informs me how to best work with it toward your goals.
Let me be clear, this is not a sport specific approach and you don’t have to aspire to be a NHL player. You could be someone who might want more muscle tone, to lose weight or to heal a nagging injury. It really doesn’t matter, the goal of each session is to view, think, talk and act in a way that is customized to you and your current daily state.
So while it’s true at Superb Health you won’t find Internet video workouts, or typed up programs to follow, you will find a trainer who will greet every session with a beginner’s mind and, like a wise Eldar, I’ll offer no advice. I am a trainer who is present to you. Who will work to not only interpret the wisdom your body has, but tap into its unique essence for potential. In the world of fitness trainers, Superb Health is but one choice.