Tis the season to reset and refocus on your fitness goals now that Summer vacation is over and the kids are headed back to school.
September is the ‘New New Year’ when it comes to fitness and a fantastic time to dial in on your fitness goals! Unfortunately it is often a busy time of year for physiotherapists who work with patients who are injured from starting poor quality fitness programming.
Starting a new fitness program should be very exciting, but it’s important to make sure that you invest your time, trust and money in the right hands to avoid injuries.
This is what our physiotherapist Cassandra Dionne MscPT suggests prior to signing-up for your Fall Fitness program to best prevent injuries:
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Before you start telling your kids to do their homework, it’s important to do your homework and research the qualifications, education and experience of your fitness instructor/trainer. They should have a minimum of 5 years experience (or work under professional mentors), proven results, be able to discuss their education and multiple certifications and one additional test I want you to give them – ask them the latest fitness book and research paper they have read! (PS, these should be easy questions!).
START WITH A TRIAL
Don’t just sign up for a boot camp, gym membership or personal training package without first experiencing a trial. Any reputable fitness facility should have a trial period of at least 1 week so you can experience the coaching and programming as well as having time to access and assess the facilities. Even if you’re signing up for classes, you should be able to meet and interview the instructor(s), ask questions, review any of your health history and injury rehabilitation or pre-habilitation questions and also discuss your fitness goals and how to best achieve them.
WARM-UP PROPERLY TO GET THE BEST RESULTS AND REDUCE YOUR RISK FOR INJURY
A quality warm up is essential to a successful fitness program and serves two major purposes: to warm-up your body and to decrease your chance of injury. A light jog may warm you up physically but it does not satisfy the second purpose. A jog does not take you through full range movements, which are critical to prepare your body for the training session you are about to do, and decrease your chance of injury. A well-crafted warm-up is key to decrease your risk for injury and should include multi-directional exercises, mobility work, balance and coordination work and increase your heart rate. If your program starts with a jog and zero movement/stretching – run out the door – it is a sign that your program isn’t well designed.
MAKE SURE THE RIGHT QUESTIONS ARE ASKED
Remember, you are placing 100% trust into the fitness coaches and facility you are hiring, so make sure they have your best interest in mind. Reputable and quality facilities will ask you for a health history to review any movement and/or injury issues that you have had or are currently working with. Of course your fitness goals and your interests are also just as important. Finding out both your fitness experience and your intended fitness goals are both crucial questions that should be asked!
IT’S 2017 AND FITNESS HAS EVOLVED!
A lot has changed over the years and we have learned so much more about how your body functions for optimal movement. Unless you are specifically training for a body building competition, gone are the days where training muscles in isolation is considered functional. In fact, research has shown time and time again that this style of training can actually lead to muscle imbalances and injury. If your new fitness program includes machine training or a host of isolated exercises BEWARE! This is not in line with the most current and research driven approach to fitness. Also important to note, in terms of preventing low back pain and optimizing your core strength, exercises such as crunches, v-ups, and sit-ups are now considered ineffective, highly outdated and dangerous to implement. Dr. Stu McGill, the world’s leading back expert advises against crunches and sit-ups stating, “while there are lots of ways to injury the back, the sit-up is an easily preventable one”. A more current approach to fitness demands your trainers/instructors to be qualified to teach kettlebell training, suspension training, free weight training and most importantly understand human physiology and movement in order to best optimize your results and keep your body health and injury free!
Be excited about starting your fitness journey and embrace the Fall as a time to reset and refocus your efforts, but make sure you take time to make the best choice when it comes to your health and fitness!