I Recently had a chest x-ray for my health insurance.

“Is Everything OK?” I said to the radiologist as she spent an age looking at my imaging!

The radiologist did not answer straight away, causing my blood pressure to explode…and my blood pressure was being taken next! I often wonder if doctors fully understand the power they hold when in possession of medical information, yet to be revealed.

In case any Doctors are reading “Yes, everything is fine” delivered within half a nano second of the question“Is Everything OK?” is the only answer that will avoid the patient spending the next few moments pondering their imminent demise.

“Errr…” said the doctor. This was bad. Really bad.

I started to consider whether What a wonderful world or Comfortably numb would be the better funeral song. Sure, Wonderful world was more positive and uplifting, which would help sooth the pain of my family, but Comfortably numb felt more appropriate to me….

“Have you been in a major car accident?” The doctor questioned, interrupting my self indulgent, hypochondriac-based extrapolations.

“No?” I answered. Wondering what medical mystery she had uncovered within my rib cage?

“I see. Its just I have rarely seen so many fractured ribs, it’s extraordinary!” 

You see, I was a boxer. A very tall, very skinny boxer with fast reflexes – making me remarkably hard to punch in the face. I was 6 ‘ 2” and many of my opponents were 5’8″ or less. Sticking out the jab with clever footwork, I took very few clean punches to my face – something my wife is extremely grateful for!

However, aggressive fighters would sit low with a high guard, walking through my jab and relentlessly assault my body with powerful hooks. I broke and fractured more ribs than I care to remember.

Beyond the pain, boxing was great fun – it provided me with a sense of achievement, and most importantly it gave discipline and focus to my anger at a time in my life when, without it, bad decisions would almost certainly have replaced it.

Boxing training made me fit and lean at the time, the boxing itself has left me with rib pain in the night, postural problems and shoulder issues.

Boxing is not health. Football is not health. Sport is not health. Running is not health.

They are performance based endeavours. Run faster and longer, punch harder, kick further, hit cleaner – make your body do extraordinary things in the name of increased performance. A healthy body does not need to do extraordinary things – extraordinary things create extraordinary problems.

Healthy exercise supports excellent sport and performance – as well as health. Performing sport itself is not health. Performance is not health. If you love running, run – but remember you will need resistance training, pilates and interval training to have a complete HEALTH plan.

When Alex was overseeing our pilates practise in Chiswick, 80% of the people she saw were sportspeople, of which 80% were runners. Ask any physiotherapist who they see the most and i’ll bet my last penny it’s runners!

This is not to say that sport (or running) is bad because it is anything but. I love sport. After boxing I played football until my body couldn’t take the battering from 21 year olds any more, then I played squash and now I play tennis. Sport is in my blood!

Sport, if it is for you, is wonderful – but it IS NOT health. It is performance. It is for the adrenaline, for the love, for the competition and for the challenge!

Modify, modify, modify 

Taking this a step further again, within our workout programs the best exercises – the healthiest exercises – are not the squat jumps or the football drills or the burpees…these are dynamic movements that raise your heart rate and supercharge your adrenaline – these are performance movements…but they aren’t the best ones….the best exercises are the low impact, controlled movements. These controlled movement patterns will stay with you when you are 90 years old…if you keep working at them.

You won’t be squat jumping when you’re 90 (unless your name is Alexandra Bartlett) but you could be squatting with a nice deep range of motion…the Silver squatter! 

You won’t be doing burpees when you’re 90 (especially if your name is Daniel Bartlett) but you could be doing a full range touch and raise!

You could be running when you’re 90 years old – but you’ll want to be looking after your joint health, posture and musculoskeletal system to make it happen!

Your workout is not a competition or a performance based endeavour – although there is no harm in approaching it this way from time to time. Your workout is mostly an opportunity for you to improve your muscle tone, your heart and lung health, your posture and your body composition.

Tune in to your body, slow your movements down, listen to the feedback it is giving you and keep it balanced and controlled.

Many people ask the question. “If I modify, is that still as good?” 
My answer. “No, its not as good….it’s better!” 

You may burn a few less calories, but I can assure you, in the long run this is the best path to a lifetime of outstanding health!

People often ask me “Which is the best program to follow?”

My answer. “The one that you have maximum control in.”

Don’t feel the need to move through the gears. Repeating a workout program with better control, increased range of motion and superior engagement is 100% better than moving on to a tougher program that you struggle to complete!

Exercise is not a competition. It is health. Be healthy and stay strong!

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  1. Missy Bentley 5 years ago

    As someone returning to fitness and always feels she has to be perfect or win, I thank you for this.

  2. Sarah Ransome 5 years ago

    Great post Daniel! I modify as needed when i’m doing a workout and always feel guilty. But somedays i find i just can’t do without those modifications. My fitness journey started with running and it just didn’t work for me. I actually ended up with back pain and leg problems. With help from physio and TBP i’m getting fit!

  3. Merrilee 5 years ago

    Last year I was training for a 5K on a treadmill, and I took notice of the many elderly folks working out in the gym as well. All of them impressed me just for being there, committed to their health in their advanced age. None of them were running, of which I also noticed. It made me more conscious of the fact that my goal is not just a faster time. (Truth be told, I don’t really love running anyway.) I don’t imagine it will be a consistant part of my life. But exercise in general will be a part of my life, and I intend to be a good steward of my body by keeping it fit but not pushing it to potential injury.

  4. Nina 5 years ago

    Seems as if we are becoming a unified mind . I have been looking for the time to post about this myself because I have truly learned the hard way along with many of my team members hear about slowing down paying lots of attention to form and engaging the body correctly which absolutely to me seems as if I’m sweating more and burning more when I do that instead of going superfast pounding the ground and doing all that high impact . I loved every minute of it when I did and I guess I can say I earned my titanium joints but I am so grateful for this lesson and lately have been enjoying the workouts even more because I’m not racing but focusing and I think even the time moves faster .

  5. Kim w 5 years ago

    Thank you for reinforcing for me that modifications are great things!

  6. Renate Steiner 5 years ago

    I’m also one of those, who need to learn to do low impact. As young person you don’t think that the kind you do your work and your sports could harm you in anyway …. till it’s too late, and you got some health issues caused by wrong physical strain. Still I’d rather go for a run instead of nordic walking – and I also would prefer to do high impact rather than low impact. But meanwhile I’m (at least sometimes) listening to my body and slow it down. Your post just encourages me to do so more often, and resolves the doubt coming up from time to time low impact istn’t enough. Thank you, Daniel

  7. MikeFleming 5 years ago

    Such a wonderful post, and I especially like the conclusion. May we all find the proper balance of pushing our bodies like a competitor and being good to our bodies like a health warrior. Not for nothing, ‘Silver Squatter’ is my Phrase of the Week! Great info and inspiration, Daniel!!

  8. Tara Chase 5 years ago

    I love this. (And I’m going to share it with my husband because its info I think he needs to take in 🙂 ) I ran for a good number of years during and after college, but once I had my first baby my knees COULD NOT take it. I still miss running–the performance! the adrenaline! the accomplishment of tackling a race!–but I know that it hurts and there are better ways to get fit. And the truth is that I have definitely become fitter using TBP programs in the past 18 months than I did over the course of years of running.

  9. Aimee 5 years ago

    Yes!!! This!!!! The whole reason I found TBP was because I was looking for low impact, effective cardio workouts. That’s exactly what TBP delivered! After running for only 1 year, my knees just couldn’t take it any longer! I had 2 hefty pregnancies,(60lbs with the first, 50lbs with the twins). Im 5’3”. Im not sure my little frame carried that extra weight very well, putting too much pressure on my knees. But as I write this post this morning, I can feel some good soreness in my muscles. I’m feeling this because yesterday I did 2 low impact exercises with TBP! I did not jump once! That low impact BURN feels so effective for me. It’s changing my body for the better everyday!! This is why I choose to press play, and I have that choice available to me for a lifetime!

  10. Carole Southward 5 years ago

    Thank you for this Daniel, I wish I had read it on Monday before I started TWT thinking I had to go all high intensity and doing burpee’s again which has now hurt my knees that I have spent weeks getting right by keeping it all low. I am so angry with myself! This is really helpful and something I will keep referring back to when I think I am not good enough because I can’t do high intensity and full burpee’s!!

  11. Heather Wray 5 years ago

    Thank you for this Daniel. As always it seems to hit just at the right time. I modify everyday. I finished Develop on Monday feeling great and thought about moving on to another program. I watched a few and decided to complete Develop again because I was sure I wouldn’t be able to hang and don’t want to have to pause. Even though I chose not to continue with something else, I beat myself up a bit because I didn’t think I could. Reading this helps me realize that it’s okay that I stayed with Develop for now. I will continue to add a few extras this time around.

  12. Heather Santos 5 years ago

    I love this blog!I’m not into doing sports, I was discouraged from doing so in junior high. I do however love my TBP workouts and I plan to be that silver squatter you mentioned! I really do love the intense burn from some of those slow and controled movements.
    One question Daniel, more personal. With how you feel now and looking back, would you choose boxing again? I enjoy watching boxing occasionally , but I sometimes wonder how those guys can take it. Thanks for another great blog!

    • Author
      Daniel Bartlett 5 years ago

      I believe we make the decisions that are right for us at the time, so I would never change anything and the lessons i’ve learned from being ‘a fighter’ extend far beyond the ring. However, if I were starting again, with my mind as it is now, I would probably choose a different sport.

  13. Dane Spear 5 years ago

    I’ve always struggled to moderate during workouts cause it hurts my ego. I don’t feel tough or that I am giving it everything I’ve got. I’ve always gone in with an all or nothing attitude and have at times gritted my teeth and pressed through fatigue to do another full burpee or press up with horrible form to avoid moderating.
    Thank you Daniel for helping me realise slowing down and going through the motions properly has far more benefit. Something that I already knew but didn’t know the importance until I envision my 90 year old self struggling to move vs moving full range low impact exercises and still enjoying life.

  14. Victoria Rogers 5 years ago

    This is very interesting because even though I’ve heard it said before I always equate moderation with not being good enough yet. But actually moving is winning! Wanting to move on from moderating is just a mental barrier really, just a measuring stick for improving. But improving performance not health, I need to remember that! And like you said it burns a few more calories!

  15. Oshin Temitayo 5 years ago

    Thank you so much for this post .Joining this team has impacted my life positively in so many ways and I have a better understanding of fitness and health in general.

  16. Clie van Helsdingen 5 years ago

    And this came just on a day when I did Killer Katie’s cardio burn. At times I stopped to better my form and would press play again. Happy I did as the workout burnt more and it was a great feeling! Thank you Daniel once again!

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