The fitness studio industry is currently in a bubble and gyms are opening up at a rampant rate. I don’t make it a habit to follow the formats of other studios, but I do have to keep abreast of what my competitors are doing. I will routinely shop these facilities, observing the treatment of their walk-in guests, their front desk protocol, and how their gym floor is situated. Something that appears to be common amongst many of these places is their lack of a proper warm-up. It’s either minimal, at best, or missing completely. As a gym owner, I understand that your goal is get people in and get them moving as soon as possible to experience your workout, but skipping this vital part can make someone’s 1st visit hazardous.
It all starts with educating someone on why they need it. We use kettlebells, the TRX suspension system, and the Ultimate Sandbag as the primary tools in our workouts. None of these will necessarily create an injury, but if you’re not adequately prepared for strenuous activity, and that’s what exercise is, they could lead you to an injury. Warm-ups will not give you six-pack abs, help you to drop 20lbs of body-fat, or give you muscular definition in your arms. They will allow you to move better and with more intensity, which will help get you these results. Exercise protocols change as we learn more, so I will not state that this warm-up will be what we’re doing in 6 months, but we currently have 2 components in our warm-up.
The 1st thing we do is some soft tissue work with a foam roller. Physical therapists use the term soft tissue mobilization. Chiropractors commonly use the acronym ART for Active Release Technique. Massage therapists just call it deep tissue work. As stated by internationally recognized strength coach, Mike Boyle, “It’s all pressure applied to tissue to deform it and cause a chemical reaction”. By rolling the muscles and tendons across the foam roller, you can change the tissue density and the quality of the muscle.
The Grid Foam Roller by Trigger Point used at the studio
Allowing a muscle to move more freely and with a better range of motion around a joint is big in injury prevention. It’s possible to spend 30-45 minutes foam rolling your entire body. I recently developed a new workout at the studio, called Mobility Worx, which spends an extended amount of time on tissue work. In our other workout sessions, we limit this time to 5 minutes. At the studio, we focus on the areas that we have observed are typically bound up in most people. This area is commonly referred to as the posterior kinetic chain. I explain it simply as all the muscles you can’t see when you look in a mirror. This includes your calves, hamstrings, glutes and back muscles. Dr. Thomas Meyers refers to this as the superficial back line in his book Anatomy Trains.
After we perform 5-8 rolls across the hamstrings, glutes, and upper back, we move on to our mobility drills. The goal of these 3 drills is to address joint capsule mobility, specifically the hip and shoulder, and to start a couple of motor control drills. There are many things our bodies do as a reflex. Think about when you breathe, blink or walk. You just do them and don’t think about them, unless affected by injury. We have our members do a leg lowering drill which works on hamstring lengthening and pelvic control. We perform a hip mobility and thoracic spine mobility exercise. If you read my prior blog post, I stated that I have yet to see anyone who has too much thoracic spine mobility. Finally, we will have members perform 5 reps on each side of a hip extension from a seated position with a reach. The goal of this drill is to get the glutes contracting, extending the hips while having the upper body stabilize the shoulder by “packing” and using the lats or latissimus dorsi. To see our warm-up in entirety, you can click on the link below.
The bottom line is that we get a lot done in 5- 7minutes. It’s nothing outwardly exciting, but very important in guaranteeing you have a safe workout and, better yet, a great experience.
See you at the studio.