Place in the sun

PlaceInTheSun-Agoge Performance Training

This month I turned 30 years old, and the approach of this new milestone, along with the frosty perspectives of middle age, brought with it for better or worse, tidings of severe recollection and reflection upon many aspects of my life lived so far.

Most notably, those areas which tend to absorb the most and least of my focus from day-to-day, and could somehow be improved upon; my work and my personal relationships, respectively.

I have always enjoyed the ‘end of year recaps’ and ‘random thought’ posts by many of the performance fields leading practitioners and so I have decided to share with readers, my version of highlights thus far from the year now behind us.

I think it’s very important to occasionally reflect and self audit your professional thought processes, to assess growth and to find areas that could be improved upon. With the closing of 2012 upon us, and a brand new year just up the hill, here are some of the things I’ve adapted or refined moving forward.

1. Corrective exercise
In hindsight, I may have spent more time than I should have fretting over trying to correct every barely perceivable movement limitation met, fighting hard for that elusive 21 on the FMS. Looking at some of my older programs, I’m embarrassed to admit they may have been a little corrective heavy, and it would hit me like a tonne of bricks if the chosen volley of ‘fix-its’ yielded anything less than an immediate response. With an appreciation for the ‘everything is connected and everything matters’ foundation, as it relates to human movement, specifically, integration of the neuromuscular, musculoskeletal, fascial systems etc, it is easy to become blinded by ones own halo, or momentarily lost in the giddiness of enthusiasm to help.

”Perfection of means and confusion of ends seems to characterize our age.”

– Albert Einstein

I was gratefully reminded that corrective exercise needn’t take up any more than the smallest piece of the workout pie, and can also be incorporated as fillers between rest periods or as part of a concentrated warm-up. Sometimes, with respect to individual limitations, it is ok to still just get after lifting some heavy iron. Some of the cuff sensitive athletes I have seen for example, have responded favourably to loaded deadlift and carry variations, as opposed to the often touted cable IR or ER exercises.

Whilst assessment and reassessment is extremely important, there should also be a training component.

Breathe easy friends, symmetrical 2’s are all good.

This brings me to another point.

2. Less is more
This is often said and yet sometimes scarcely remembered. Appreciating the vast and varied environment of performance enhancement it is easy to become caught up in the chase for, and integration of new information. My renewed focus over the past year as been on distilling down, and crystallising some of the things that I know now, and that have proven successful in the past.

For example, I have regressed much of my core training back to bridge and birddog variations and have further drawn out the progression continuum. I also use more half get-ups and have found tremendous benefit in employing a narrow to in-line half kneeling stance for diagonal and anti-rotation patterns like chops, lifts and Pallof presses. I’ve found that for some people, a half kneeling hip flexor stretch pressing a dowel for core engagement can represent a significant core sequencing challenge. Rather than assuming a foundation of stability and sequencing, and beginning with a more advanced exercise than is appropriate, I’m going to try establishing and strengthening that baseline.

The above mentioned exercises can all be coached quickly and effortlessly. Although I strongly believe there is magic in using rolling patterns in assessment and training, until I can coach them effectively and efficiently, I will opt not to use them.

This is definitely something I am looking to change in 2013.

3. Balance
One of the biggest realisations I came to, expiring my twenties and arriving at the last chapter of 2012, was that I needed to create a more harmonious work / life balance.
2012 has been an incredibly rewarding year for myself and Agoge Performance Training, but it has not been without a significant investment of time and effort, that I left very little available for other important aspects of my life, like personal relationships, travel, writing, and forbid… Play.

This past year I’ve declined more birthday parties and social gatherings than is polite. I’ve refused holidays and have not seen many of my close friends or family for far too long, that when we do finally cross paths all I have to discuss is my work. I love my craft, but I never wanted to become ‘that guy.’ Sharpening both ends of the pencil, exhaustion soon stole in and my enthusiasm began to waver. Recognising this shift in temperament, I decided to rectify this immediately, and loosen the reigns on some of my professional commitments, that other vital areas in my life might again receive due esteem.

”…The sweetest honey is loathsome in his own deliciousness
And in the taste confounds the appetite.
Therefore love moderately; long love doth so…”

– Friar Lawrence, Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Some of the steps I’ve taken to ensure this transition, I will elaborate on further in a future post.

In the meantime, as the sun sets on 2012, I encourage you to take a moment to reflect upon some of the things you’ve learned or refined throughout the year, and how best those new thought processes will serve to make for yourself, and those around you a brighter 2013.

See you on the other side.


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