The training experience has changed and the goalposts have moved.
The health and fitness industry as we knew it previously, is unlikely to return to anything that resembles what we knew and loved any time soon.
Every transition into and out of lockdowns with Wales and the UK on a whole, has imposed new additional challenges to us all. This is unlikely to change, collectively therefore we need to take further steps to keep moving forward.
As coaches and trainers we are having to find ways to adapt on the spot. Whether it be moving to outdoor sessions, working with clients solely with bodyweight in limited spaces, creating our own home studios to deliver classes from, or still trying to find ways to remain a beneficial part of clients progress towards greater health and fitness, in spite of barriers in place.
Yet one of the biggest challenges I’ve personally found has been the separation of training with clear and intentional outcomes in mind, to simply moving and exercising to maintain some degree of fitness.
I’m proud that as an industry individuals have managed to adapt and remain resilient. We will no doubt have colleagues, friends and clients who have taken their clients and classes virtually from the word go, finding ways to keep people smiling throughout.
Others, and I include myself in this, have struggled in making the transition quickly enough whilst not diluting the quality in service of what they believe they offer.
Since starting independently with IFT, my personal intention has always been to remain focused on key performance indicators and deliver unobjectionable outcomes for clients.
What are we measuring that shows both myself as the coach, and you as the client, that we’re moving in right direction?
Whilst there’s value in the subjective feeling of improvement, it holds nothing to actually achieving objective results.
For some individuals, this may be a body composition goal or an improvement in a health marker. For others it may be undeniable strength improvements in specific lifts, or an increase in running performance via a decrease in running times.
We all value these types of health and performance outcomes. I personally write and deliver programmes to assist clients in these goals, making nutritional recommendations within my scope of practice where needed to support these types of results.
We also cannot forget that doing something in the vast majority of cases is likely to be better than doing nothing when it comes to heath and fitness.
If all you have is 20mins a few times a week to do an online HIIT workout, and you consistently tick the box, that is 100% commendable and in the circumstances we can likely ask no more.
Yet something is becoming lost already within the virtual coaching/training environment, the aspect of movement quality.
There are many barriers that I’m sure we can all recognise as to why. From varying levels of space and kit amongst us all, to the complete disruption of goals that we may have once had but currently can’t pursue.
But I believe we can still always do better. Quality still precedes quantity.
Move well, then move often.
We can ask a group of 10 individuals in an online class to get into a plank position and set a timer, and we will likely end up with something close to 10 different approximations of what a plank could be that end up looking gradually worse as the time wears on.
Some likely may feel discomfort in their knees, back or tension in the neck throughout, yet persist regardless…
Or alternatively, overtime we can develop the competency so that we can set someone into a plank, and they’ve centred their skeleton in a way that their skull is over the middle of their pelvic floor, pelvis underneath the middle of the ribcage, which is retracted without the skull moving forward and the pelvis tipping anteriorly.
In this case, we may feel more glute due to the hip extension and feeling abs engage. Muscles we want involved in this activity!
Likewise, we can give someone a Dumbbell and tell them to “Lunge”, and again possible knee, hip and neck discomfort that they push through… No pain, no gain right?!
Or alternatively, we can position an individual so that the skeleton is capable of centering over the lead foot with the pelvis on the stance foot ascending as the ribcage on the lead foot is descending, whilst the trail pelvis performs the opposing movements, lead foot pronation, trail foot supinating.
Now we have more muscles that competently control the body in this type of activity (adductors, glute medius, abs, serratus…)
Execution matters, and we can do better.
So this leads me to the purpose of this insight. Remote Coaching doesn’t have to be endless Kettlebell Swings at a fractional of the load a person is capable of nor does it have to be burpees for time purely to “get a sweat on…”
If you’re definition of exercise is high-intensity workouts always taken to failure without consideration for foundational principles, standardisation of movement, and principles of progression, I’m not for you.
If you expect to be unable to walk up stairs for 3 days with muscle soreness that you brag about to your friends as an indicator of progress, again I’m sorry but I’m not for you.
However, if you interested in learning and experiencing the impact of movement quality, standardisation and progression can have, how we position and orient the body to move in different patterns, stances and planes and what this should feel like, and how we can manipulate internal forces and external loads through bodyweight exercises to move towards an outcome with purpose, then I just might be the person for you.