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Sunday, May 9, 2021

Technology is great, sometimes

Confessions of a Fitness Trainer

“Where can I look up the exercise technique on-line if I can’t remember what to do?”

“How come I read on a website that you’re supposed to do this exercise in this position?”

“Why don’t you have an app or video links with all of the exercises?”

While these are all valid questions, technology fails to address the hundreds of nuances that come with each and every exercise.

Think of a squat. A seemingly basic movement of sitting your hips back and down as if there is an imaginary chair behind you. Because of its importance in everyday life (getting on and off a chair, couch, bed, or toilet) and its direct application in sport performance, squats get prescribed to virtually each and every client that is looking for a workout plan. 

However, there are many different variations of squats: back squats, front squats, goblet squats, offset squats, suitcase squats, Anderson squats, overhead squats, sumo squats, the list goes on and on. 

Furthermore, the variations that exist in the technique within each one of these types of squats are infinite. Several factors can be manipulated to alter its degree of intensity or complexity: distance separating the feet, direction of toes, squat depth, lift tempo, weight placement, type of resistance required (kettlebell, dumbbell, plate, bodyweight, medicine ball or barbell), necessary assistance (TRX, tubing, or bench), and amount of resistance to use.

Based on these factors, it would be impossible to have a video, link, or app that accounts for all variations for every specific person at any specific time.  So yes, exercise videos, apps, and websites exist and can be great resources but can’t always be substituted for real, in-person coaching and cueing.

Exercise prescription should be dependent upon the goals, experience, current level, injury history, access to equipment, biomechanics, and personal preferences of the individual at hand. It is also important to remember that exercise variations are fluid and will change as the person gets stronger and more mobile.

In order to get the most out of a workout, exercises should be customized to meet the individual at their current level and adapted as they progress. This is tough to accomplish in our increasingly digital world. 

Tips of the day

* Every body is different. Hire a certified fitness professional to help you select the exercises and the version of each exercise that is appropriate for your body at that time. 

* Resist the urge to compare yourself to others if your exercises look different to theirs. Their health and fitness journey is likely completely different to yours. 

* Technology can be a great tool but has its limitations. Nothing beats the expertise of an excellent coach. 

Kathryn McKenzie – B.H.Kin, B.Ed

Certified Kinesiologist, Sport Conditioning Specialist & Personal Trainer

Author, Pizza Lover & Owner of Surefire Fitness

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