Stop Putting Fitness Into Dysfunction

I begin with the words of Gray Cook in order to explain my philosophy of training “are we in pain because we move poorly, or are we moving poorly because we are in pain.”

I was astonished by the way that this simple quote ran through my head during the weeks after I attended a seminar where Cook, founder of the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) and Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA), was the speaker. As a personal fitness trainer and instructor, I regularly read and educate myself on how to maximize strength, power, endurance, and flexibility. As he mentions in his book Movement, we have to take into consideration the body as a whole and stay away from reductionism (breaking down). To illustrate, our modern approach of food intake has gone down to the calories level or calories counting regardless of quality nutrients content in foods. This has not made us a leaner society, but has worsened the perspective of what is considered healthy eating behavior. Same as modern training, as it has focused in isolated movement which has not made us a fitter society or has reduced musculoskeletal injuries among our society. At the end of Cook’s seminar, my feeling that something was missing from my training approach was confirmed.

When I first began to gain experience in this industry I felt that performing traditional types of training (e.g. lifting dumbbells and doing 3 sets of 12 repetitions) was not the best method for most of my clients. Although there is a place and a time to include this type of training, I came to the conclusion that trainers were creating dysfunctional human machines by having clients perform intense, isolated muscle workouts while ignoring a fundamental human element movement quality. Modern fitness training focuses on how much we can lift, and that is how most people measure progress. In this way, we rely more and more on external resistance devices to improve fitness. I believe that the human body itself should be the first external resistance used when starting a weight training program. Until we are able to master moving in harmony with our own bodies, we cannot think of introducing other types of resistance into our fitness programs.

When we are born, several milestones must be reached before we are able to walk. Babies go through a process of gross motor development: learning to roll; crawl; creep; sit; half kneel; tall kneel; lunge; and stand before they can walk or run. Newborns are able to accomplish these tasks naturally through practice. A simple example would be that adults cannot expect to run efficiently without compromising other areas of their bodies if they cannot even hold a static, half kneeling position for more than 30 seconds without losing balance. I mention this as an example of how the movement development sequence has an impact on the performance and durability of a fitness client. I believe that most of the time the simplest task or exercise that reveals a weakness should be included in a training program. This idea relates back to the concepts of proprioception and kinesthetic, which means being able to consciously and unconsciously feel the movement and location of the body’s extremities in space. Again, if we observe a child when he or she starts to walk, we see that the parents are not coaching the child on how he or she should walk. The child eventually walks by simply feeling the movement. The child creates a motor program in the brain by practicing the same movement pattern and integrating the information received from different sensory organs, which help him or her to refine that movement.

Our brains store information, just like a central process unit (CPU) does, in order to access that information as fast as possible. Consider a situation where you would have to pick up a luggage from the floor on your way to the airport, or picking up your kid to give her or him a big hug. To be able to perform these activities safely by maintaining a spine in neutral position or back straight your brain would have to store this information taking into consideration good practice before hand. When this information is ingrained in your brain unconsciously you would be able to perform these activities with proper body mechanics in order to reduce the risk of injury and move efficiently with your body. Now let us take a look at a soccer player like David Beckham, who practices his shooting skills in order to make beautiful and accurate goals. As he mastered the skill through years of training, he was using the same motor program to make it more efficient and refined for use during different game conditions. Does practice always mean better performance? Not if you practice with poor form and technique over and over again because by doing so you will consequently create a motor program that may actually be detrimental to your performance.

As Vince Lombardi used to say, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.” This same concept must be applied in emphasizing excellent movement quality and in encouraging clients to practice with good form. Take Gray Cook’s words to the heart and help your clients achieve their goals by making a professional and thoughtful selection of exercises. In this way, you will improve your client’s quality of life and maximize their movement quality, which will minimize their risk of injury.

Contributed by Carlos Jimenez, CSCS, SFMA, SPT


  1. Totally agree Carlos! There needs to be a shift in priorities while working out. I am actually in the process of writing a post on the same topic :).

  2. Yes, it is a great post and I couldn't agree more! Be sure to give me the link for your post and we'll run it here on PA as well!

  3. Thank you! For the comments i will definetly qork on another article soon. I really appreciate your support!

  4. Hello sir thanks for sharing your blog with us you can visit here for more knowledge about Fitness trainer we have excellent fitness trainer.

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