Friday, 5 August 2011

Strength and Performance Gym- Thoughts on training

Sean, or Z, sent out a message today asking this.  

"What do you think of when you think of Strength & Performance? I keep hearing the phrase 'Hardcore' all too often. What people tend to forget is that we probably train equal amounts of fat-loss clients to semi-professional/pro athletes! We are not a place where folks just come to bleed and vomit.. we get results for everyone! Your thoughts?..."

Now, I tried to answer this very briefly as a return post and said 
"Intelligent training. Hardcore when it needs to be." 

Which I think sums it up pretty well. However, it is more than that, but I think the succinctness works for itself. 
I have only been going there for a couple of weeks, and I may have a bit of an "angle" in that I also help out with Soft Tissue Therapy there as well, but this is my take on the "underground gym" in Stockport. 

Hardcore is such an overused word in terms of gyms. If a gym has cardio machines and pretty weights, bouncy balls and personal trainers who look pretty and are employed to polish chrome, its going to be a gym with a certain clientele- generally one that likes to read the paper while working out. If a gym has about 20 tonnes of metalwork inside and huge blokes going through the door, its more likely to be a "lifters" gym, focusing very much on lifting very very heavy stuff. If a gym has sledgehammers, ropes, rings, tyres and stuff that needs to be pushed around the floor it tends to get lumped into a "hardcore" category. Most people would associate this with MMA fighters with no teeth, training with maximum aggression and god help anyone who gets in their way. 

Recently there has been a rise in the Crossfit brand. An excellent concept which appeals to many, and has got a large number of people into functional training. If you haven't done this kind of thing- hitting a tyre with a sledgehammer minute on minute off, then throwing kettlebells around and then something else, chances are, you are going to be puking blood by the end of it. Unless you are used to it, its going to hurt, and this is the only thing that people actually see. 
Its not really the point, and gyms of this ilk should not all be lumped together. 

Yes, there are a few places out there that focus on making people physically ill. But what is the point in that? If you aren't used to an exercise, and you do it hard enough for long enough, of course its going to make you feel like you want to die. Take a long distance runner and make them do tabata, or 30/30 push presses, its not going to be pretty. But on the same level, take a guy that can do all that and make him run 10 miles at a proper decent race pace, and by the end, he'll be in much the same position. 

Just because your trainer is making you feel ill at the end of your workout does not mean he is a good trainer. Chances are, unless he can explain to you WHY he is making you feel like this, he doesn't really know what he is doing. Crossfit doesn't tend to be like this, though there are some that are. As I say, don't lump them all together, there are good trainers and bad trainers, but this blog isn't about that. It's about S&P.
How does this relate to S&P as a gym?

Well, when you look at the gear they have in there, and the people who work out there, you will see all kinds of weird and wonderful bits and bobs being used. All of it in a functional and intelligent way. There are ropes, chains, weights, tyres, rings, hurdles and all that stuff. The people that train there are working hard. They are sweating, they may be shouting with effort, the music is pumping, and overall, good, honest hard work is being done.
Some of them may be feeling ill at the end of the session, some may be ill because they aren't used to that type of work at that high-an-intensity, but the difference is, there is a reason for it. 
Let me show you what I mean. 

A few weeks ago I started at the Gym. I gave Sean a list of adequecies that I want to progress to and beyond in the future. He showed me the place, and gave a general work out for the first session, as much to see what I could do, and what I couldn't do in terms of movement. I have an imbalance in my right shoulder and find it hard to do presses of any kind without eliciting pain. This was tested, noted, and we moved on. By the end of the session I was sore, yes, but I was not throwing up, I was not bleeding through my eyeballs, and I wasn't calling for an ambulance. 
When I came back next time a 4 week introduction programme was given to me with specific exercises to rebuild muscle and firing patterns into my shoulder. Movements I have difficulty with work worked around so that I can still do intensive work while my shoulders rebalance, and extra warm ups and movement patterns were added to re-educate the muscles. 

Going through my warm up and training with Sean I asked why I was doing various exercises and the point of particular things. He had an answer for everything- including the order in which the exercises were put. This is what proper, intelligent training is about. 
It's not a case of "heres a hammer, hit that tyre until you feel like you're going to die". Its knowing your client, knowing what each individual is about, what they need, and how to go about getting it out of them. Its intelligent training. Building each individual up, addressing their weaknesses, pushing their boundaries, and encouraging them to go beyond their comfort zones. 
Yes, it may be uncomfortable. Yes, it may be loud. Yes, there are times when you might feel ill. But the difference is that here, people like me, Joe Public, are training next to professional athletes. Olympians, Fighters and Lifters. Their work ethic rubs off on us, and our hard work and sweat encourages them to reach new heights. 

S&P is not a place to read a magazine while you "workout". It is not a place where one size fits all. It is not a place to slack, or to say "I've had enough". 
It is a place of energy, hardwork and community, where you can come to train, and feel free to sweat, scream and shout without fear of someone looking at you as if you're a nutter. Its a place of hardwork, suffering and redemption, each person committed to their own performance be it to increase sporting ability, or simply to feel better in their own skin. 

At least, thats what it is to me. 
Intelligent training, and hardcore when it needs to be.

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