fitness classes

by Jeff Roux B.P.E; CSCS; TSCC Gold

NARP; Noun (*Urban Dictionary) a Non-Athletic Regular Person. 

Everyone needs to move. Everyone needs to move better and everyone can be more athletic.

In our world Inside the Red at TWIST, we are leading a movement for the extinction of NARPs because we believe everyone is an athlete. Our goal is to turn NARPS into MARPS (More Athletic Regular People of course!)

Whether you are a NARP, an elite athlete working to succeed at the next level, a mom trying to manage her job, family, and her own fitness, or a grandfather who still plays hockey a couple of times a week, everyone can benefit from moving better, getting stronger, understanding how the body works, and enjoying the process along the way.

In order to move better it would help to understand movement better, so for today, everyone is also a physicist and we will explore Newton’s Laws of motion to help understand how we move and how we can all move better.

Newton’s First Law of Motion says basically that an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion.

This means if your usual state is to be stopped, seated, planted and/or otherwise immobile, you are likely to remain that way. If, however you decide to get up, get moving and keep moving you are more likely to continue to do so.

This law also outlines the concept of INERTIA and our objective within a strength and conditioning program to help people move objects (their bodies, other bodies in contact sports, loaded objects etc.) and control the movement of these objects (deceleration, directions changes, shifting gears, absorbing contact).  This is an essential concept in the world of health, fitness and performance.

Once you get moving, we can begin to focus on how well you move. General fitness and strength and conditioning programs should all have the same objective, to help you move better. Most people are not just trying to be better squatters, treadmillers, plankers, or bench-pressers, but everyone wants to improve the way they move in a way that fits their life.

The journey of fitness, health and performance begins when we’re born, and continues until we stop moving. We can always improve it. Kids, adults, seniors, and even high performance athletes can improve their movement and even learn new movement skills.

Whether you are an elite athlete, a teenager or active adult who wants to stay fit and healthy throughout your life and be a strong, healthy role model for your kids, everyone can improve their physical literacy and athleticism.

Great coaches aim to inspire everyone to move better, to improve their skills to perform better and to stay physically active in order to live a healthy active life. Despite all of the research and knowledge on the importance of physical activity, many people of all ages are still sedentary or not nearly as active as they need to be every day.

It is estimated that only 30% of the adult population in Canada participates in a regular health and fitness plan. For a country that prides itself on being fit and healthy we still have a lot of work to do. Some would quickly assume inactive people are just lazy or apathetic but the truth is, they may be intimidated, or simply lack the confidence to get moving in the first place.

The great news is that as strength and conditioning coaches and fitness professionals we have the tools to change this trend.  We are teachers. We must teach clients and athletes how to use their body properly, how their muscles work together, and how to move efficiently.  Then we must help them practice and reinforce this knowledge.

Movement is simply about taking muscles through a full, functional range of motion and expanding that range of motion. It is about stabilizing the joints to handle deceleration and direction changes without injury. It is about developing explosive muscle firing patterns to accelerate quickly and change gears efficiently. Movement challenges your body to be able to stop and go and challenges your heart and lungs to adapt to a variety of conditioning intervals and intensities.

It is exciting to see strength training make a resurgence over the past few years and to see adults excited about getting stronger, challenging themselves more within their fitness programs and training more like athletes. One thing that people must realize when it comes to training intensity, is that moving any load is a movement skill and there are many elements that must come together to execute strength training technique besides moving weight up and down.

This brings us to Newton’s Second Law of Motion: Acceleration (Movement) occurs when a force acts on a mass. We all instinctively know that heavier things require more force to move them. That is why strength training is such an essential part of every health and fitness program if we want to move heavier things and/or we want to move things faster, we have to get stronger and be able to apply more force.

This is also true in relation to the speed of the movement and is relevant for explosive sports and activities where power and explosive speed are required.

Conversely, if we get stronger we can also absorb force more efficiently and this is essential to helping to reduce the risk of injury.

If you cannot perform a movement properly due to injury, dysfunction, coordination, muscle weakness or imbalance, and you load it and try to move it, injury is inevitable. Similarly with movement drills for agility, plyometric jumping drills, movement based circuit training progressions, and even endurance activities such as running, biking, swimming etc.

Athletes learn how to execute proper movement patterns and muscle firing patterns in order to get stronger and challenge the intensity and complexity of movements more.  If mechanical issues exist in any movement pattern and the pattern is repeated or loaded excessively, injury will occur.

First, learn to move properly, then load, lift and challenge the complexity and intensity of the movement. Quality of movement should always supersede quantity of movement.

The question that everyone must consider when performing any exercise or drill is simple. Why?

Why this particular exercise/movement? Why, am I doing a specific number of sets and repetitions? Why, am I using this tempo? What is the true purpose of this drill? Is it going to make me better or just make me tired? Is this exercise a smart choice or is it just a novel one? A basic concept of developing athletic and functional strength is learning to apply force from the ground up. This is the basis for almost all movement and is outlined in Newton’s Third Law of Motion:  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Understanding and utilizing these reaction forces can have tremendous impact when it comes to going faster and jumping higher. Absorbing and controlling these ground forces is also essential to decreasing injury risk as it is often these forces that result in ACL, ankle and other non-contact injuries.

Life is long-term and all of us want to continue to get better every day. No matter what your sport or activity, if something motivates you to get moving, stay moving and keep moving better, it is worth doing, and it is worth doing well.

You are only truly a NARP if you choose to be. Now is the time to re-set your goals and make a plan to improve your fitness. Now is the time to go from NARP to MARP!

Now is your chance to move more, You can be the object at rest, or the object in motion, the choice is up to you.