As I’ve grown in the fitness and health industry the hardest part to train in myself and clients has been balance. Building muscle, a routine gym schedule, or even working to achieve certain strength goals has always been the easier part (relatively) when you compare it to the challenge of helping somebody become more balanced. The ‘workout’ stuff (strength training, hypertrophy work, endurance building) is mostly about falling into a regimen and finding a rhythm that suits you best. Like most people, I’m great at routine and even better at a routine once I find my groove in it.

The much harder part of training has been the physiological aspect of balance. Muscle balance, work versus recovery balance, and energy systems balance. Sure I can workout, I can get on a gym schedule, and go hit it hard, but that doesn’t equate overall health. And as the fitness industry grows I’ve become less and less interested with solely muscular and bodily gains as I have been with physiological gains, or healthier behavior changes. What I’ve been experiencing is that if you can align your lifestyle values relative to your working out, you actually excel quicker and get better results than you would have otherwise thought possible. The biggest problem? We don’t friggin’ do it!

Incase you didn’t know, poor nutrition, poor sleep, and unhealthy habits are all components of our health which can and will impede our performance in the gym. This isn’t my opinion, it’s science, and if you want to know more about it, do your research on the internet and read about hormonal stress and its’ relationship to muscular development, nutrition and how it correlates to anxiety, or how long-term habits manifest into long-term physical ailments. Science has proven that we function most effectively and most efficiently when we are less fragmented and less bottled up. But half the time this isn’t the case in our society. What I mean by this is we have choppy value systems when it comes to health, and we tend to keep a lot of emotional tensions inside us. And people will argue that fitness releases their emotions, or that their values are fine the way they are (and to this I could have a separate conversation, though not right now). Having been a practitioner and student of the game for as long as I have, I am telling you- the human value system has tremendous potential to be misaligned with one’s actual desires for change. Not only that, but the capacity of fooling ourselves into doing something that we aren’t doing is very large.

Enough ranting! Whenever I start working with somebody to create a long-lasting change we talk about three prerequisites before embarking on a journey together. The client trying to improve their health has to have the energy to do the work, (that is), train, do homework exercise at home, and show up for our sessions. Secondly- the athlete has to be adaptable, meaning, flexible with the new movements and methods we are going to use to better improve the body’s integrative functioning. If you’re not flexible and open to new adaptations, the training sessions can be a waste of time. Lastly, the client has to have support outside of me. A significant other, friend, family member, co-worker, I don’t really care who it is, but it’s not enough for me to be the health police with you, you need a support system. Realistically, to create behavior changes, you need these foundations in place to better set you up for success and a healthier physiological change. From there, the training begins, and we quickly dive into what I call a FRESH approach towards physical embodiment

Below you will find a simple way to objectively look at your lifestyle to see how balanced you are, so that you can better correlate if you’re getting your desired results when training. The acronym stands for;

F-   Fitness and functional application. What is your fitness goal? How is your fitness carrying over to your real life? How are we going to optimize your biomechanics so that you function better day-to-day?

R-   Recovery and Rest. How do you recover from the gym, the workday, or your travel schedule? What do you do to rest and self-regulate your nervous system? When you have a stressful life situation on your hands, what do you do to rest from it?

E-   Eating and food. What do you eat before you train and how do you eat regularly? Do you eat to perform or do you eat just to eat? Do you follow any sort of plan? What are your body goals and do they align with your eating habits?

S-   Sleep. How much sleep are you getting on an average weeknight or weekend? Do you get quality sleep? What positions do you sleep in? Is lack of sleep or too much sleep something that you feel during the day?

H-   Habits and patterns. What bad habits do you have? Some of us drink too often, others might smoke. Some of us have a bad case of staying up late and not sleeping enough. Your bad habit might be you never let anybody too close. Habits are deeply ingrained patterns that create myofascial constrictions in the body and are definitely worth looking at. What are your bad habits and how are they impacting your progress, growth, and overall ability to get to the next level in your life?

The reason my clients and I use this acronym is because it gets to the nuts and bolts of somebody’s daily life. It also has a great deal to do with the rate at which they will improve when training. When you start to look at FRESH components in your life, you may realize that your gym training is fine, but the balance outside of your working out is dramatically off. That is why we use FRESH and constantly revisit it to shape better choices so that your body can progress at a rate that you feel and can see. At the end of the day, we workout and train to look and feel different- and if we can better define our FRESH categories, the rest of the training goals follow more easily.

I do not only consider myself a trainer or manual therapist. I think of myself as a behaviorist, a coach who impacts how people speak, think, and function in the world. This is why I do what I do, because I am interested in improving kinesthetic health of individuals as well as psychological and physiological health. Once you start to better balance your life by taking a FRESH perspective, you will notice a realignment of your nervous system and subsequently your value system will also realign with what is truly important to you in life.

For more information in how to improve your biomechanics and attain physical autonomy check out some of my other posts!

How To Get Mobile, Flexible, and more Stable

Physical Autonomy

Posterior and Anterior Chains: Are You Balancing Them?

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