In today’s world, we are blessed to have a seemingly endless variety of gyms and exercise classes to participate in. Every year, new businesses spring up to promise exciting and novel ways of “getting fit” and achieving your goals. While these classes look appealing to the untrained eye, their approach to fitness ultimately leads to stagnation, boredom, muscle imbalances, injury, and a false sense of fitness. Most fitness classes fail in achieving your long term goals by not focusing on all aspects of fitness, and not progressing over time. SPARC differs from the average, trendy gym or studio by providing our members with a holistic and progressive approach to your goals.
The Health Equation
The Health Equation is something we at SPARC developed to assess your total physical health and identify the areas that need improvement:
Strength + Mobility + Cardiovascular fitness + Body Composition = Physical Health
The modern fitness industry falls short of improving your health by only focusing on one or two components of the health equation. Most of the popular fitness businesses are targeted towards a specific mode of training or piece of equipment, such as dance, yoga, boot camps, or spin classes. While these workouts may be fun or even challenging, they often fail to prepare individuals for the unpredictable and variable nature of daily physical activity.
Take a spin class, for example. Spin can absolutely improve your cardiovascular fitness and may even improve your body composition through fat loss; but let’s see what’s missing:
Strength: The movement of pedaling relies mostly on the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles. Aside from the initial stimulus of a new form of exercise, little increases in strength or muscle growth will be seen in these muscles over time. Furthermore, these muscles work primarily in the sagittal plane, or the plane involved in forward and backward movement. Any muscles of the lower body involved in lateral movement, such as the hip abductors and rotators, are ignored and undeveloped. The muscles of the upper body are also minimally used, and won’t produce any strength gains.
Mobility: When you spin, you spend an extended amount of time in one limited position. All movement is performed in the sagittal plane, the spine is flexed, and the neck extended. If you only move in one plane, your muscles begin to lose mobility in other planes of motion. Any lateral or rotational movement becomes uncomfortable and weak. The same happens for your resting body position. If you spend too much time with a flexed spine and an extended neck, that becomes your new posture.
Cardiovascular Fitness: While your cardiovascular fitness may improve on the bike, it doesn’t necessarily prepare you for other forms of fitness. Research has consistently shown that your ability to perform one form of cardiovascular activity doesn’t necessarily prepare you for other forms. Varying your cardiovascular activity is the best way to prepare for the rigors of life. In other words, you won’t always be on a bike. Some day, you might have to swim, run, crawl, or walk with a heavy object. If you’ve only been doing a spin class, will you be prepared for these challenges?
When you are shopping for the best exercise facility for you, look for one that covers as many aspects of the Health Equation as possible. If you currently exercise at a gym or work with a personal trainer, see which pieces of the Health Equation are missing. SPARC stands alone by utilizing the Health Equation first to optimize your fitness. Our programming model prepares you to confidently excel in any form of physical activity. We want you to be strong, resilient, and capable of moving in all planes of motion with vigor.
Train, Don’t Work out.
The next common issue with many popular fitness classes is the lack of progression. Many gyms provide classes that are novel, fun, and initially challenging. These are what I call “workouts.” They make you sweat, they are interesting, but they ultimately aren’t leading you any closer to your goals. Your body quickly adapts to the initial stimulus of the class, and thereafter only provides a medium to maintain your current fitness. This is when stagnation and boredom occurs. How many times have you attended an exercise class that uses the same weights, the same exercises, and the same formats day in and day out? Once your body adapts to the class, you’re only going through the motions. To actually improve your health goals, your body requires consistent and gradual progression. This is what I call “training.”
When choosing whether or not to join an exercise class, you have to ask yourself what your goals are. If you want to just have fun, get your heart rate up, and burn some calories, then many of the current exercise trends are suitable for you. If you want all those things, and make progress towards your long term goals, you need to find a facility that continually challenges you over time.
At SPARC, we forge all of our programs with progression as the main goal. Every exercise, every training session encourages you to improve your body’s function and performance. For us, progression can be anything from improving load, volume, work capacity, or your form and muscular activation at a given weight or time. We believe in providing our members with training sessions, not workouts. We want to see you reach levels of fitness you never thought possible. We want you to look back on when you started and marvel at how far you have come. Great progress and maximum quality of life is impossible to achieve if you do the same workout day after day, and pick up the same weights each session.
We believe in empowering you to make educated decisions regarding your fitness. With all the choices out there, it’s easy to get caught up in the fads. Pick the programs that plan for the long term and include all aspects of the Health Equation. Good luck!