Never Say Never (or Always)
by Steven M. Ledbetter
2 minute read
Never Say Never or Always. This is a philosophical point, but one that I feel is important for creating the body that you want over the long haul. I was having a conversation with a young guy who wants to become a personal trainer. He is going to work at a big corporate gym where (ostensibly) they will teach him to become a trainer. This would make me nervous, because a lot of corporate gyms have a “training style.” I understand the gym’s point of view, they want a consistent client experience and they don’t want bad trainers (or trainers that are too good. Those trainers take clients away when they leave). What I have a problem with generally is that these “training styles” tend to be an all-or-nothing type of system. “Always do circuit training. Never do squats or deadlifts.” This doesn’t leave a lot of room to tailer sessions for a client’s goals and worse, slows down the pace of knowledge that is trickling down from the science of exercise and nutrition. For example, a few months ago after Dr. Stuart McGill’s excellent articles on lower back training came out in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, I stopped having my clients do crunches and almost anything that puts the lumbar spine in flexion. It represented a big shift with the way I coach. Would that fly at a corporate gym? I don’t know, but I love not having to find out.
The young guy I was talking to said something really smart to that though. “There are very few things I will say ‘always’ or ‘never’ before.” I like that. It’s a real “Fitness Nerd” kind of statement.
To close with the way that kind of thinking applies to a session, I have visited the gym that this guy has been hired at and one of the peculiar things that I saw was every trainer stretching every client in the same way (and with the same verbal cues… weird). Now, I have a stretching series that I have become rather fond of. Most clients see a version of it, but I tweak it for everyone. I even have some clients that are so freaky-flexible that taking them through the whole thing would be a waste of their time (and money). That time is better spend on stability and proprioception. So even with a simple idea like “always stretch,” the Fitness Nerd like me and my young friend will say, “well, actually…”