Context – Part 1
In my last blog I endeavoured to place the Ocean Performance Centre into an arena of context for you, so you could get a better understanding of my own beliefs and what the Ocean Performance Centre is all about. The oxford dictionary defines Context as “the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood.”
Context in the strength and conditioning world has a variety of different meanings and applications. A coach needs to ensure an individual’s training program is conceptually correct for that individual. This is done by understanding all the circumstances about that individual, such as, their current physical capabilities, previous injuries, down to their actual training goals just to name a few. If coaches do not consider the athletes context, for example a developing 15-year-old tennis star, and continue to prescribe exercises meant for 35-year-olds wanting to lose weight, they could end up injuring or inhibiting muscle function relevant to that athletes sport.
We all know how disastrous it can be to take things out of context in regards to conversations, I have made a fool of myself several times jumping to conclusions before I knew all the facts about something I had heard. The same applies to strength and conditioning, to provide a training program or exercise to an individual without understanding all the facts and making it conceptually correct for that individual can only lead to disaster.
This disaster is currently being played out online through a glut of cool new exercises and movements glossing up your Instagram feed. These exercises, whilst claiming to ‘instantly build a bigger booty’ could also ‘not build a bigger booty, and further damage your knee ligaments or cause serious injury depending on your movement patterns or prior injuries. There is also a rise in popularity of the one-size fits all group mentality.
Unfortunately, these one size fits all models completely disregard the individual’s context by assuming all individuals that engage in these exercises or programs come from the same set of personal circumstances and abilities.
For a recent example, I had a middle age man wanting to join one of my semi-private strength and conditioning sessions. After my initial consultation I found a series of movement dysfunctions, a hip joint that I assumed had bursitis’s or even a labrum tear, as well as some very inactive weak muscle groups. I advised this gentleman that one on one sessions would be more appropriate for him or better still to go see an allied health professional about that hip first. He became irate and started telling me how he has been doing high intensity interval group sessions at his local gym for the last 3 months so he could handle anything I could throw at him. To bring sense to this discussion I only had to ask him “how is your hip feeling since doing those classes” His reply was “well it isn’t getting any better”
So, let’s put this into context. Are high intensity group sessions the best training platforms for individuals, there would be a set of circumstances in which this type of training is suitable. Are high intensity group sessions the best training platform for this middle aged male with poor movement quality, a bung hip and limited strength … hell no they are not!!
This lack of appreciation to an athlete’s context is being reflected within our communities as injury rates are increasing. Athletes Authority a reputable strength and conditioning facility from Sydney recently posted information pertaining to a study that showed approximately 880’000 adolescents see their GP for musculoskeletal injuries every year. Does this sound like the youth of today are engaging in types of physical activity that are contextually appropriate for them?
In summary, with the plethora of online gurus promoting advanced exercises and the rise of popularity of group fitness platforms we are seeing a great deal of individuals engaging in workout programs that are not contextually correct for them.
How does this trend eventually end?
Although social media may wear some of the blame for the issues mentioned above, it is also partly responsible for providing the cure. The strength and conditioning world is starting to work together with more and more reputable strength and conditioning coaches in the marketplace banding together. They are sending a united message to the masses that wearing their injuries like a badge of honour, due to engagement in exercises that are far too advanced for them or engaging in group fitness programs that are contextually incorrect for them is stupidity at its finest.
Social media is also allowing individuals to see world class athletes training in very basic facilities using very basic exercises. From this many are turning away from the multi-million dollar facilities or group fitness centres with extravagant advertising. They are realising that fancy equipment and expensive marketing campaigns can never replace good quality coaching.
As information online becomes more readily available, Individuals are slowly becoming more educated and as they do, their ability to see the shortcomings of the group fitness fad, or the coach trying to fill them full of lies and bullshit increases.
This united stand by the strength and conditioning world is turning the tide and leading us into a very exciting future. No longer will our community stay quiet and allow others to abuse or disrespect the art of strength and conditioning. Athletes Authority recently went public with their disagreement about how F45 marketed their new teen programs, and also how they run them. I can’t praise the team from athlete’s authority enough for standing up for our industry, protecting the next generation and demanding a higher standard for our children!!
Lastly I feel the strength and conditioning world is beginning to learn how to communicate their beliefs better. In the past it was commonplace to see coaches engaged in ego battles, trying to prove they are smarter than each other by posting advanced moves with attached descriptions that were cut and paste straight out of a master’s degree text book. The quality message that they were trying to communicate was simply lost as no one without at least an undergraduate degree in anatomy had any idea what they were saying.
I started this blog chatting about the importance of context in the strength and conditioning world. I am hoping by now you are also starting to see just how paramount it is as well. My mission statement is to do my best to provide a context around any information I share online. Context is just so important to me; in fact it is to a degree my life’s purpose, to find the right training program that is contextually perfect for any individual that walks through my doors.