How did we get here?
Training is easy. It is a step by step process to eliminate weakness; progressions to add weight, range of motion and intensity are tools. Training people is a process of many small steps. Stress the body, allow for proper rest and recovery and it becomes stronger and more efficient. Do it again and again. The result is creating people who are more capable at whatever they choose. We can look at benchmarks or biochemical markers; the result is a healthier more "fit" individual. When someone comes into train regularly, our jobs are easy.
Consider going to the grocery store. We all do, fairly regularly. Who has seen the people in electric carts? Very few people are born to require motorized transportation in the grocery store. Our heart goes out to the people are born to require it and it really makes one wonder what a person who was born healthy with full mobility does to get there. Maybe I have been too long an athlete and trainer, but I look for teaching progressions in just about everything. What is the progression to end up in a cart at Meijer?
Working out is uncomfortable. Anyone who has ever done a Tabata workout or really any of the benchmark workouts understands discomfort. The basis of training is to take someone out of homeostasis and encourage adaptation – AND IT FEELS UNCOMFORABLE! Our media and society gratifies the latest pill or surgical intervention as the solution to whatever ails us. The key thing they are prescribing is avoidance of pain. Numb the senses cut the nerve, try not to feel the discomfort and all will be well. Nothing could be further from the truth.
People make the decision to end up into the electric cart the day they chose to not to maintain the human machine: More accurately, a series of small decisions over time resulting in loss of ability to move. (The decision is either by default or out of ignorance, both are choices and decision either conscious or unconscious.) The initial pain of lack of exercise is not that bad. Our bodies in our late teens and twenties are reasonable healthy and require smaller amounts of effort to maintain them. Our cumulative exposure to sitting on the couch, drinking beer and slouching behind a desk has not caught up with them yet. The a person's thirties still is not so bad, pick up softball and basketball games causes a pounding and more stress, poor eating habits conspire to greater needs of Motrin and beer to numb the slight discomfort. The spiral of inadequate movement, avoiding effort and the general acceptance of slothfulness begins to catch up.
Then the forties hit like an avalanche. We begin to lose friends prematurely to heart disease and type II diabetes. Our doctor's tell us to work out or you are going to die at the same time they prescribe cholesterol meds. If your heart were taken from your chest at this point, it would look like a canned ham pumping mayonnaise thick blood. (In case you don't get it, that is not good) You decide to get a gym membership and go workout for the first time since…ever. You get on the gerbil machine and do some bench presses like you just saw the fluffy trainer do with his client – doing 3 set of 10. Deciding to try and be impressive and overload the bar and tear your rotator cuff. The doctor repairs your shoulder and 6 months later you have gained 30 more pounds and are far less mobile than ever. Then…
Do we really need to carry on this potential story? It was more interesting than if you chose to sit around your entire life watching re-runs of Magnum. It really all come from the fact that we do everything we could to avoid discomfort now for greater discomfort later.
The question was posed today: "Is there any hope for these people?" as our class talked about people in this situation. Yes. Absolutely! (The conversation was prior to a Tabata thruster, power clean and power snatch WOD) Under one condition: If they have the true desire to change. Taking someone from an electric cart after 30 or more years of being sedentary is a tall order, but it is possible. If some is truly willing to work to reverse the status quo, then yes. It would not be easy. The human body is the most capable of machines if it is trained, it can repair many of the stupid things we do.
The best choice it never to allow yourself to get to that point where your doctor tells you to workout or get your will current. Move your body EVERDAY and get comfortable with being uncomfortable or get comfortable in the electric cart. It is a choice.