learn to move well


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I love nothing more than when a client has a lightbulb moment.  I live for these moments! Here is one from yesterday:

Client:  “I’m not sure if it was right but when I was carrying my shopping home yesterday I tried to focus on keeping my shoulder drawn back and down and gently squeezing my arm to my side like we have been doing in the exercise you get me to do.  I noticed that my shoulder that usually aches a lot after my shopping trip was fine yesterday and thought I’d ask if I was doing the right thing?”

Me: “Hell yeah, you were doing the right thing!  That’s what I like to call body awareness, AKA progress!  That is EXACTLY what you should be doing every time you carry anything.”

Client:  “Ah, I thought it must have been right as my shoulder didn’t hurt”.

The scenario ended with a HIGH 5! ☺

When we make our bodies more aware of good movement patterns and enforce it as a habit that is where CHANGE occurs! Those “AHA” moments are way more effective if the client is taught the biomechanics of a movement, along with the FEEL of it.  These movement patterns are then trained and re-inforced in session.  When this translates to their lives and they begin to make connections between WHY we are doing what we are in the gym and how it translates to their lives it is hugely empowering for each individual.  It doesn’t always make sense when explained during sessions until the connection is made outside of the gym through body awareness. 

I always try and train my clients for LIFE, to prepare them for whatever life throws at them and in order for them to achieve functional and pain free lives.  Everything we do in-session has a purpose and a direct translation to their necessary function through life, whether it be through sport; certain hobbies; achieving basic pain free functional movement patterns or just being ready for the unpredictable!


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To quote Pat Flynn from Chronicles of Strength (love this simple, yet effective way of summing up this whole blog post in 3 small symbols)...

"- = +" :-)

The golden rule in movement:  REGRESS TO PROGRESS!...

For the trainers out there:  please don’t expect your client to “get” movement by handing them a weight they’re not ready for and just expecting them to move correctly by shouting out a few cues to them…it ain’t gonna happen!  

The only thing that happens is they learn bad movement and possibly land up with an injury.  

For the fitness enthusiasts out there: you have to break down movement and work on the weaknesses within a movement pattern in order to progress a movement. Don't just think that practising single leg squats or pistols is going to get you better at doing pistols...it's only gonna get you injured.  There is a reason why you struggle with certain movements, you need to find that reason and work on it!  Maybe your ankles aren't mobile enough; maybe your hips are unstable; maybe you lack good sequencing in your inner unit (core); maybe you have flexility issues in either certain muscles or joints; maybe fear is holding you back; maybe all of the above! :-o  There are a number of possible, likely reasons but you need to find yours.

Just because your mate did loads of hamstring flexibility and went from finding pistols difficult to being able to achieve them, doesn't mean that's going to work for you.  We're all individuals here and you need to treat yourself as one.  And holding a kettlebell out in front of you is not the answer, yeah, you might feel more stable but maybe, just maybe that is because you have core issues and the kettlebell is forcing your body to react to the weight by engaging your core before you descend, but what happens when you try again without the kettlebell?  

I'd suggest ditching the kettlebell and stepping away from the pistol for a while to work on core sequencing...once you've made progression there, find ways to progress.  I'm just using pistols as an example, this applies to anything in life.  And it takes time, you're not gonna fix things overnight.

So please, think before you cause yourself harm.  If I gave you one Golden Rule of advice it would be CHECK YOUR BREATHING!  This is highly important for any form of stability work.  If your'e unsure, my stability exercise page has a great description of how to check your breathing and how to correct it, I have video links on Youtube to help as well & my facebook page has a link to an awesome interview with Dr Perry Nickleston & Julie Wiebe on the pelvic floor & breathing...Check it out!  Core function begins with breathing!

I repeat:  Regress to progress…Perfection before load…Get assessed if you're unsure...


American Turner Gymnasium 1860

American Turner Gymnasium 1860

An online lecture I saw recently given by Dr Ed Thomas, an expert in the foundation of Physical Education, drove me to analyse what fitness is today in comparison to what it was historically.  Historically, there are three fundamentals of movement and fitness, these are Progression, Variety & Precision.  

Now from what I can tell and have observed over the years is that the majority of fitness enthusiasts seem to do well to take care of the Variety aspect of fitness, it's not hard to keep workouts varied.  Progression seems to be mostly adhered to, it's quite simple, you learn a movement to a satisfactory level until it becomes quite comfortable and then you progress that movement, either by adding weight, increasing reps or challenging the movement to a higher level of difficulty (i.e. advancing from a squat to a single leg squat progression).  Now, I have to take a pause here, although progression seems to be quite evident in most fitness programmes, there is a little issue that is quite niggling…this would be the over-eagerness to progress.  This is a huge issue that is present within our field, you may have someone who is recently able to squat their own bodyweight comfortably but then wants to throw 40kgs onto their back and continue to squat, or a personal trainer who wants to make a client sweat more by handing them heavier weights resulting in a less precise movement pattern.  You can't expect the body to move as efficiently with extra load in a movement pattern that is newly learned with only bodyweight or that is challenging enough with the current weight used.  This brings me to the third and final (and I personally believe the most important) fundamental...Precision.

We need to find a way back to basics and get the population moving well and precisely again, we are so far away from our own mind-body connection that most people just go through the motions of exercise without ever making a conscious connection to how they are moving, why they are moving or how they are breathing.  There was no sloppiness in movement back in the 1800's & most of the 1900's, precision was the key focus and the fitness just followed.

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In Gray Cook's book, "Movement", he talks about the origins of Martial Arts and sums up what fitness should and used to be.  Somehow recent generations have managed to distort this approach and turn it on it's back.  Current jobs and lifestyles have a huge role to play and make it hard for the body to hold onto fundamental physical fitness, but not impossible by far!  "Purposeful movement perfection was the focus, and physical conditioning happened as a natural side effect".

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Modern day gyms are stacked full of equipment promoting dysfunctional movement.  The use of fixed machines encourage your body not to utilise it's core stabilising musculature and instead, rely on your large, global muscles for movement.  In our daily lives we need to be able to squat, lunge, push, pull, reach, run, bend and rotate, all done whilst fighting gravity (not sitting locked into a machine).  This is when our bodies are moving as intended.  These are the movements we need to perfect and do with precision in order to be healthy, fit individuals avoiding injury.

Look at gyms from ancient times and see if you can spot a hamstring curl, a pec deck or a leg extension machine anywhere?  They only use anti-gravity equipment in the form of ropes, rings, parallel bars, ladders etc and hand weights in the shape of dumbbells, kettle bells, medicine balls and clubs.

Train functional movement patterns and make sure you do it with Precision, Variety & Progression in order to achieve true fitness.  Don't rush into a new movement before you have perfected its predecessor and don't load up a movement pattern before being comfortable and strong enough in doing it body weighted first.


Here's a glimpse of an hour of work in a dynamic work space, sped up to a few minutes. For more information on transitioning to a standing and dynamic work space, read "Don't Just Sit There" by Katy Bowman.

Move often...

Here is a lady who lives by the laws of movement. There is an array of useful information on her website about how to encourage movement in the home; at work; and with the family.

With all the hype about sitting being bad for you and standing desks now being all the craze I have always been a promoter of moving often, standing all day is as bad for you as sitting all day is. However, if you choose to adopt different postures throughout your work day and add in some useful stretches/movements scattered around, then you are certainly on the right movement road.

Your body craves movement. Don't lose what you started out with. Rather maintain and gain as much movement as you can over your life.

Katy Bowman's website is certainly worth a look, even if just to get one good tip that you carry over into your own life.

DeskMoovs - Complete Series

An easy to follow video routine of movements you can do right at your work desk, put together by a Physiotherapist. This 57 minute video will be all you need to help you gain more flexibility throughout your work day. Helping you avoid those aches and pains from sitting all day.

This video covers:

  • Lower Back & Hips
  • Upper Back & Shoulders
  • Neck & Headaches
  • Forearm / Wrist / Hands
  • De-Stress

It is packed with easy to follow instructions and education as well. A sure way to improve your productivity and get you feeling better!

This is a combination of all the DeskMoov videos we have on offer.



Don't be this guy...Don't repeat poor movement habits in the gym. Get assessed and trained in good movement habits to avoid injury and stiffness occurring.