The Post-Nautilus/Bodybuilding Era Fitness Method

Are You Strong Enough?

Are You Strong Enough?


I had an epiphany during a conversation with one of our members the other day after one of her many trips to physical therapy.  When I asked her what she was doing in PT, she said exercises to strengthen her knee.  I bet that I have a dozen conversations a month that are eerily similar to this one (although the body parts may differ) but this particular time I had a revelation: “You belong to a gym and you are paying more money to perform strength training somewhere else!?!”.  This particular member is very representative of our membership as a whole – energetic, enthusiastic and extremely active.  She takes Afterburn 3 to 4 times a week and enjoys 1 to 2 days of doubles tennis along with riding her bike and taking long walks.  Also like many of our members, years of activity have caused the injuries to start piling up.   The most obvious behavior she shares with the rest of our members?  No Strength Training!


I have noticed that there appear to be two main reasons why people avoid strength training.  The first is that women think they are going to look like men.  Well, I have news for you girls, unless you are taking anabolic steroids and are willing to dedicate several hours a day to lifting heavy weights, it’s not going to happen.  The overwhelming majority of you just don’t have the right hormone profile for that to be a concern.  The other reason people give is that classes are just more fun.  I get it.  There’s the music and people and energy – it’s like a party!  Hey, vacation is a lot more fun than working but you can’t take a trip without putting in time at the office.  Personally, I think the biggest problem is that most people don’t really understand what we mean when we say “Strength Training”.  They think it means doing a bunch of single-joint, isolation exercises like a bodybuilder or lifting massive amounts of weight.  So maybe we need to talk about what “strength” actually is.


From the moment you were born you started to use basic, fundamental human movement patterns.  Things like crawling, squatting, hip hinging, stepping, pushing, pulling, etc.  These are what we call Functional Movements.  As we age and suffer injuries or sit at desks all day or perform the same movements repeatedly for hours on end (pronounced “Jogging” or “Spinning”) we start to lose our ability to perform these basic movements.  Noted Physical Therapists Grey Cook and Lee Burton (founders of the Functional Movement Screen) place individuals’ movements into one of four categories:

  • Functional, no pain
  • Functional, pain
  • Non-Functional, no pain
  • Non-Functional, pain

The majority of the folks that come to the gym fall into category 3.  That is, they have no injury but they are poor movers.  The problem is that one of the main causes of injury is a lack of good functional movement.  Poor movement patterns lead to compensation.  Repeated compensation over time eventually leads to acute and chronic overuse injuries.  This is where strength training comes in!


Now, I spent many years working in Physical Therapy as an Athletic Trainer and more than most I realize it’s value.  Some of the brightest people I know are PT’s.  Many have been and continue to be my friends and mentors.  I think Physical Therapy is an extremely important part of the rehabilitation process.  But I think what is happening with strength training (or lack thereof) is a microcosm of the healthcare system as a whole.  As a nation we continue to be mostly reactive instead of proactive when it comes to our health.   Certainly we are a much more educated society in terms of eating organic foods, avoiding pesticides, the dangers of smoking, etc.  However, many people fail to realize that the reason a lot of injuries occur in the first place is a lack of strength, and so we set-up this continuous cycle of exercise participation, injury and rehabilitation.


One thing I learned from legendary coach Vern Gambetta many years ago is “Postural alignment and stability is the key to all training”.  Essentially, can you perform a movement while maintaining perfect posture?  If not, then you lack either the proper mobility (range of motion) or stability (strength) to be successful in that movement.  So how do we improve?  We strengthen functional movements by training for the appropriate amount of stability and mobility!  That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to lift something heavy.  Instead, what you need to do is improve your movement patterns first .  When movement quality is good, then we can start to add an external load and progress at an appropriate rate.  I promise you that if you would spend just two days a week improving your foundational movements through strength training, you would need a lot less rehab.


Stay Strong!



Yoga Therapeutics Series: an Interview with Diane Malaspina

I recently had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Diane Malaspina about the Yoga Therapeutics Series she will be conducting here at Wareing’s. While it was my first chance to have a real, free flowing conversations with Diane, many of you probably know Diane from Tech & Restore and the some of the other yoga classes she has taught here at Wareing’s. Just recently, she has also conducted Yoga Teacher Certification Programs. The following is a transcript of that conversation.

Enjoy The Journey, But Don’t Loose Sight Of The Destination.

What is your motivation?

I love to hear about people’s workouts.  I think it’s great to share with others what you are doing in the gym or on the road.  Quite often I can pick up some new things to try myself, or share with friends and clients.  However, for me the most important thing isn’t what you did but why?  Training is not the end –  it is a means to an end.  If you don’t have an “end” in mind, then most likely your training is either all over the place or without any variety at all.  Put another way, goal-oriented training is always more effective than “What do I feel like doing today?”

Sound Approach To Supplements

I am amazed by social media. What was once a great way to reconnect with old friends and share pictures with distant relatives, is now an internet flea market. And how does Facebook know that I’m a 45-year-old bald man with a wife and three kids? Kinda scary! I am also amazed at what people are willing to share. From far right and left political ideas to passionate stances on vaccinations to very personal medical issues, it seems that nothing is out-of-bounds when it comes to an internet rant.

Over the last few months I have seen a growing number of Amway-esque products being hawked by my Facebook friends. You know the names – Lue La Rue, Plexus, Advocare, Shakeology, etc. I am particularly fascinated by the nutritional supplements. Nothing against any of you that are really into Advocare or Plexus – I’m sure they are fine products but I think you guys are missing the bigger picture. The reason that these products make you feel so incredible is that most of your diets really suck. If I take someone who is deficient in several key nutrients and then give them a supplement that complements those deficiencies, they are going to act like what I gave them is the Fountain of Youth! There is a much more efficient way to get the same feeling – stop eating crap and eat real food (it wouldn’t hurt to stop smoking and/or drinking to excess either!). When you get nutrients from food you get much better absorption of those nutrients because of the form they are supplied in and the slower processes of digestion and metabolism. Liquid nutrients speed through the digestive tract and are not as readily absorbed – which means you have some really expensive urine!

Supplement: something added to complete a thing, supply a deficiency, or reinforce or extend a whole.

Now what most folks need to do in order to improve their health is usually quite simple – that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily easy, but it is simple. The typical American diet is abundant in processed foods, hidden sugars and saturated fat while deficient in many key vitamins and minerals. Combine a poor diet with a lack of sleep and a lack of adequate hydration and it’s a recipe for feeling lousy (i.e. sick and tired). Before you shell out $60 a month on a nutritional supplement, I want you to try this:

Eat a colorful variety of vegetables and fruits everyday.

Drink at least 64oz of water everyday.

Turn off all electronics at least 1 hour before bedtime and get 8 hours of sleep everyday.

If you do these three things consistently, you will be amazed at how much better you feel in just a few weeks. I’m not saying there is no place for supplementation. There are many instances where nutritional supplements would provide great benefits for certain individuals. My point is that if you eat junk, don’t sleep and don’t drink water, then spending money on expensive shakes is not the first step. Fix your diet first. Supplement when you need a little more help.

Just my two cents.

Chris Ullom, Director of Training, Wareing’s Gym