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Health & Fitness

Jump off the hamster wheel and make real fitness your goal


Published:   |   Updated: July 13, 2013 at 04:15 PM

If someone told you the human species was rapidly regressing from the dominant traits that permitted survival thus far, would you believe them?

Well, I just did .

Fitness is a word used all too frequently these days - after all, looking good in a bathing suit hardly qualifies as a trait needed for survival.

To cavemen, fitness was conditioning through survival. To our generation, fitness means you have a gym membership and only eat fast food on occasion.

We are a highly adaptive species adapting to a false environment. And like a hamster on a wheel, many of you may be heading nowhere fast.

Lets call this the law of un-adaptation.

The law of un-adaptation states that you may be one of the millions of people regressing due the use of machines in the gym.. That's right, whether you're doing a chest press or running on the treadmill, you, my friend, are slowly becoming unsuited for your "natural" environment.

"But, coach," you protest, "I hit the gym five days a week and run for an hour on the treadmill every morning - what do you mean I'm not fit?"

Unfortunately, the isolation of individual muscles presents major consequences because it ignores a driving force behind human movement: integration. Movement is created not by one muscle, but by a synergy between all working muscles.

I've seen people do amazing things with their health and well-being by joining gyms, so I'm not saying gyms are a bad idea. The problem arises when the average Joe works on his computer eight or more hours, then decides to punctuate his day with maximum intensity on the treadmill. Or, better yet, walks for that hour while texting. You get the picture right? Treadmills are for cardiovascular training, not training to improve your skill at text walking.

We are high-performance, all-terrain vehicles. Unless your fitness goal is to train like a hamster, get moving!

And when I say moving, I mean pushing, pulling, twisting, crawling, running, jumping and climbing. As a strength and conditioning coach, I see much utility for training under iron, but quality movement is the foundation for our strength.

Try concerning yourself less with qualitative results - how big or strong you are, or how fast an objective was completed. Focus, instead, on how well the task was performed. You'll surprise yourself with what you will accomplish in time when practicing efficiency. (Amazingly, you'll become more efficient.)

If you're not already incorporating nonspecific outdoor training, start now! Getting outdoors provides you with the benefits of unstable environments to train on, and in Florida on most days, the sunlight that improves the vitamin D synthesis that most people are deficient in. By getting outdoors and having fun training, you can reduce stress levels often elevated by other gym members' behavior or the monotony of working toward an aesthetic goal.

Not sure how to get started? Incorporate movement-based activities into your weekly plan. Play sports, go swimming, run outside, or try climbing, martial arts, kettle bells, paddle boarding, surfing and yoga, just to name a few.

So there your have it, you now have permission to stop training like a hamster on a wheel and start playing like a kid again. Movement will reward you with a beautiful, healthy, durable body.

Ryan Bruggeman is the founder of Genergy Human Performance and fitness director of Powerhouse Gym Downtown Tampa. He is a board-certified exercise physiologist, strength and conditioning coach, nutritionist and human movement specialist. Visit www.genergyhealth.com or "like" Genergy on facebook at www.facebook.com/genergyhealth. Contact Ryan at rbruggeman@genergyhealth.com or (727) 560-6770.

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