Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Hardcore Holistic Training

You still gotta train hard!
What's great about the holistic approach to training is that as you might expect, it implies that factors such as good nutrition are considered vital, and that the desired outcome is for general well being on all levels encompassing physical fitness, mental health and emotional stability. Indeed you could say that the holistic philosophy views these three factors as inseparable, with each being unattainable without the other two.

This would probably be a rather extreme interpretation, but it is certainly true that nutrition plays an important role in achieving any physical fitness goal, and both nutrition and fitness greatly influence mental and emotional health in a positive manner.

More cynical body builders might view the idea of holistic training as just a way to let people feel good about themselves, going through the motions of an exercise program but without actually pushing themselves to increase their performance or improve upon their physical limitations. I've worded that a lot more politely than how it has been stated in some discussions!

That's rather cynical and judgemental, but in some cases they might be quite correct. Look at the websites or advertising for most holistic training centres and you'll see clean cut trainers in nicely ironed white shirts, everyone with a big smile, no one looking as though they're straining with effort or breaking into a sweat from the exercise... from the perspective of your average heavy lifting, grunting & sweating weight lifter, this really doesn't seem like much of a work out.

And this is where the concept of Hardcore Holistics comes in. Don't get me wrong, though. I am all about supportive environments, positive self talk, positive energy and good vibes. However when it comes to training, the benefit comes exclusively from getting out of your comfort zone, breaking a sweat, and pushing yourself to a new level. As personal trainers, our job is to ensure that a client makes real physical progress and continually sets new standards of performance.

In Hardcore Holistic training, the attention to good nutrition and the goal of positive self image and self esteem is still paramount, but the actual workout does not take a back seat. Deep down, I think everyone knows that self respect does not come from doing what is easy, it comes from doing what is hard!

Training hard provokes a physiological response of the brain releasing more of the feel good chemicals such as endorphins, serotonin and adrenaline, which are responsible for that awesome “post workout rush” that only those who truly train hard can experience. On the psychological level, there should also be that sense of pride and achievement from sticking to the program, making progress, looking more attractive and surpassing your previous concept of your own capabilities.

This is where true self esteem and self respect comes from, and it is the opposite of that feeling of “I know I should look after myself better and get into better shape, but I just don't have what it takes” that a lot of people are stuck with. And compared to the softer, gentle & ineffective approach to holistic training... getting into the gym and physically proving (to yourself) that you do have what it takes is worth more than all the positive affirmations in the world.

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

Oh, just climbing a mountain, you know.
The concept of physical exercise having beneficial effects on emotional health is nothing new, as the old adage “a healthy body and a healthy mind” suggests. This was well known to ancient Yoga practitioners, Shaolin Monks and Japanese Samurai. Perhaps most famously, Miyamoto Musashi who wrote the Book Of Five Rings believed he could achieve spiritual enlightenment through continuous practice with the sword. The practice of Yoga and Martial Arts forms is in many cases considered a form of active meditation.

As we have discussed, it is reasonable to expect the majority of personal training clients to have goals related to weight loss, cardiovascular fitness, increasing strength or muscle mass and so forth.