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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