Why I Do My Job

Nothing makes me happier as a personal trainer than seeing a client make progress. The most meaningful progress can’t be neatly summed up with a before-and-after pic on social media. The most meaningful progress from my perspective is an improvement in quality of life. Today I was privileged to witness a long-term client able to push herself to near-failure on the lat pull-down machine. This is significant because, in the space of a few months, she has gone from being in constant pain due to muscular dysfunction in her upper traps and exercising purely to rehabilitate this dysfunction, to being able to explore the limits of her strength with functional, integrated muscle recruitment. In simple terms, it means no more sleepless nights with headaches and back pain, not needing to see a physio multiple times a week, and being able to consider exercise goals beyond pain management.

Moments like these are the reason I do my job.


“I Have Lower Back Pain: Should I Exercise?”

Lower back pain has been described as one of the most common health complaints in the world, with 58% to 70% of people experiencing some form of lower back pain during their lifetime. [1] Lower back pain has been linked with weakness, inhibition and imbalance in the tonic and phasic muscles of the core and hip girdle. [2]

What does this mean?

Basically, it means that, despite the fact that you’re probably in quite a bit of pain, you need to exercise in order to improve, reduce or eliminate your pain.

“What the – ?@?! I’m already in too much pain to get off the couch, and you want to me start hurling weights around? I’m in pain when I walk and you’re telling me to start running???”

Here’s the thing – there are many different types of exercise, and in cases of lower back pain you need specific exercises which are correctly prescribed for you. When most people hear the word “exercise,” they immediately conjure up images of sweating it out in the gym, “feeling the burn” and lifting to failure. As you might expect, this is the exact opposite of a program designed to assist in managing lower back pain.


What Muscles Are You Using? Activation, Inhibition, and Why Not All Squats Are Created Equal

Knowing which muscles and movements you want to exercise, and being able to choose the right exercises to do so, are important whether your goals involve sculpting, sporting performance, injury rehabilitation or just general good health. Most people can make common-sense decisions about this – it’s not difficult to conclude that one should do squats to target glutes, quads and hamstrings, for example.

But how do you know that the muscles you are targeting are actually active and functioning in the right way during your exercise?

Although your squat may look the same as anyone else’s in the mirror, it’s possible that your muscles may not be activating correctly, or in the correct sequence, in order for the exercise to be as safe and effective as it needs to be. This can happen in any exercise or movement, but for now let’s use the squat as our example.