Sunday, January 23, 2011

Taking Classes

Taking classes at the gym is not a bad thing especially if your other option is doing nothing or you have a hard time with motivation, or you just want to sweat and have fun. I feel classes as a tool though is only effective and useful in a few settings.

In skill building, for example: classes in Olympic Lifts, Kettlebells, Pilates, Yoga, Martial Arts and sport fighting. The smaller the class the more affective they become, and of course if you work one on one it's even better, except for possibly martial arts and sport fighting where you will need sparring partners. What is unique is martial arts and sport fighting needs sparring partners the most, but martial artists and sport fighters like boxers appreciate one on one training more than anyone else. Whether paying for one on one time with a boxing coach or taking private lessons from a black belt.

Classes in general are not designed for max results, but to maximize use of space and available equipment. This is not just true for classes but also for boot camps. At one time I did a lot of boot camps but after a while I stopped doing them. I realized it was not efficient and scientific enough. I had to spend too much time on the most deconditioned, and could not focus completely on the rest of the class. If it's not just nonstop running around the class will lose focus. Form starts to go out the window, the most common problem is overextending. And really the members getting results did not truly come from the boot camps but everything they did outside of boot camps. It was easy to see the people who would do well. They were always the people who would do well regardless, had found some motivation, set a plan, and began to do it. The good thing about the boot camp though was making friends, sense of camaraderie, and the social aspect. A lot of times the members went to eat right after, hell so did I.

Classes are cheap to do and highly profitable. They aren't about maximizing results, it's about maximizing space and time for profit. Basically even if you are paying 10 bucks a class. Economically it's renting a 2x2 sq. ft of space for $10 for one hour. As many of those spots they can sell, and as much sweat induced in that hour, the better. Also the students are interchangeable, and can be easily replaced, and so do not need to be monitored, nor is it possible to monitor their progress. Like I told you the goal of training is always is injury prevention and rehabilitation. Those are hard goals to keep in a large class. The teacher also has no idea about who is injured, the safety of the attendees are is in their own hands. If that is the case they might as well work out on their own.

To get into any shape, you need lots of space, the right equipment (don't believe the hype that you can get in shape with any equipment or even no equipment, all scientists need tools and equipment), logging and data tracking, a plan, and a coach/guide. No one does it alone. No one. Either their guide in the form of a real person working with them one on one, a teacher in a class, a teacher in the past, a DVD, a book, a magazine article or series of magazine articles, or an amalgam of advice from different people. All of those are guides but not all equal in value. The hard part is finding the right guide, as all of them want your money.

I have no definitive way to find a good guide. The approach I have always taken is the scientific one. Meaning I try them all out and make notes for comparison. I am an expert on all the work outs that don't work, diets that don't work, forms of rehabilitation that don't work because I've already tried them. Once I was speaking to one of my friends about a certain piece of modern equipment, because he heard it was the next big thing. I told him a lot about it and in the end told him it was crap. He said how do I know so much about it then (because most people form negative opinions about things they know nothing about)? Because I went out and tried it, studied it, and got certified in it just to be sure it was crap and taught him how to make it at home with stuff from home depot.

DO NOT BE AFRAID TO EXPERIMENT. Whether you know it or not, you are always doing experiments on your body, you are just not logging any of the results.
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