At Ambition Athletics our focus is on Movement, Strength and Education. People talk about movement and strength all the time. In a broad sense that’s what fitness is all about. But what about education? There are no doubt many ways to “get in shape”. Just turn on the tv or go online and you’ll see a lot of different things being promoted. Some of these things are good, others a waste of time, and still others downright dumb and dangerous. Not all training is created equal and in one way or another education is a part of it. I feel that ultimately the goal for us should be to have someone train for a period of time, learn and potentially leave with the ability to apply these same principles on their own, ideally for a lifetime. If nothing else each person can determine what training they enjoy the most and which you don’t. There’s still something to be said for “If it’s not fun, don’t do it.”
For whatever reason the other day I was recalling the two times I broke bones in my body. That immediately reminded me of when I had a broken arm to start my senior season of high school hockey and prompted me to write this post. I had to sit out four weeks before I could play again with a cast on for another four. The bottom line is I came back somewhat out of shape. I vividly remember getting verbally chewed out by one of my favorite coaches during a game for not looking like I was giving an effort because I was out of shape. How much training had I done during those four weeks? Not much. I remember running a couple of miles in the freezing cold hoping that I didn’t slip on some ice. Did anyone, coaches, parents or friends offer any help as to how to keep my conditioning up for when I returned? Nope. How come? Because no one knew anything. There was a complete lack of education all around. I could have maybe gone to the local gym and pedaled away on a bike. That is, if my town actually had a gym. Yup, believe it. It didn’t. Sure I lifted weights in my friend’s basement during the off-season, not knowing, A. at all what I was doing or B. that lifting during the season or injury in this case, was perfectly acceptable. Did this situation improve during my first season of college hockey? Hardly. It was still basically a free for all in preparation. Luckily that all changed when a strength coach, aka someone that actually knew what they were doing, was employed at the school for my sophomore year and beyond.
Times have certainly changed since them as information is much more freely shared these days and it applies not only to athletes but everyone spending time training. I realize that not everyone coming through our door is interested in an anatomy lesson or all of the ins and outs of training. Some simply want to feel better and look good naked, and there’s not a damn thing wrong with that. For those people education often just means either teaching them how to push forward or maybe dial it back. Some people aren’t used to pushing themselves a little further or confident enough in the bigger movements like squats or deadlifts to really make a difference. Just as often, some people love to push it all the time and think that unless they’re sore they didn’t work hard enough. It’s just as important to teach them the value of sustainability and not training at 100% effort every single day.
The third training scenario that brings education of training is realizing weaknesses. This could be some sort of limitation, stiffness or just an overall lack of strength. It could be a specific place in the body, through different ranges of motion or identifying a large gap between a relative high level of strength in one place and significantly lower level in another. Understanding this can make a big difference in health or performance whether you are a coach or trainee.
Training, or “working out” if you want to call it that, should be fun and invigorating for several reasons. You sweat, push yourself and hopefully feel better. But, if you’re a coach, don’t forget that it is also your job to teach. If you are a trainee don’t forget that it’s not just about the numbers and feeling sore after. Ask questions and don’t be afraid to seek more knowledge about making yourself better for a lifetime, not just today. If having the body you always wanted or even being properly prepared for your sport were easy then everyone would just do it. It’s slightly more complicated than that but big changes can be made with just a little education.
– Mike Baltren