Training Versus Exercise
For most people, exercise comes rooted in fear and goes hand in hand with a “diet.” Instead of working out for love of something, people exercise to avoid becoming fat, flabby, and old. Other people are driven entirely by vanity. While there is a multi-billion dollar industry built around preying on these fears, it’s so much more interesting to focus on doing something for positive reasons and objectives. While most gyms are set up to sell exercise using guilt as a weapon, Knotty Yoga is setup to create and facilitate athletes.
Exercise is the domain of people who run on treadmills and have “chest” and “leg” days. Exercise is largely focused on making bodies smaller and selectively making certain body parts bigger. It largely has no focus or goal other than looking better in a swimsuit or getting “abs.”
Training is activity focused. A great example would be training to do a marathon, doing a press handstand, moving from a 3.5 to a 4.0 in tennis, or being able to climb a rope without using your legs. Instead of isolating certain muscles to work for maximal visual results, athletes use their bodies as they were designed to perform interesting movements and accomplish tasks.
The body is composed of systems of muscles that work in tandem to do something. Most exercise uses these muscles to do very mundane things but athletes harvest this potential to do things that are amazing. For instance, the biceps are generally a small, supporting player in any movement. They tend to play second fiddle to the muscles of the back and torso. Many gym rats have biceps that are greatly out of proportion with the muscles that actually are the primary movers. This sets these folks up for injury. Many of these people also lack the shoulder strength to even hold up these disproportionately heavy arms.
At Knotty Yoga, we focus on making athletes. We have classes that teach you how to do an activity and classes for conditioning. The activity classes would be fabric, hoop, and partner acrobatics. The conditioning classes are Knotty Yoga and Circus Circuit. We explicitly split the training out from learning the activities taught at the studio. This allows people doing activities outside of the studio to condition at Knotty Yoga and pick how much they condition and when. The activity classes are fairly short (mostly an hour) and they feature very little in the way of conditioning because we offer many conditioning classes. To make progress in the activity classes, people will need to attend many of the conditioning classes or have their own conditioning routine.
No matter what your sport or activity is, Knotty Yoga (the class) is designed to support your conditioning and training. We focus on working functional groups of muscle together the way they were designed to work. There is a lot of asymmetrical, high range of motion work with a lot of instability to challenge balance and improve flexibility. It’s a high intensity but low impact workout so it pairs well even with high impact things like running, tennis, or dance. Knotty Yoga is designed to help you get better at whatever your sport or activity of choice is.
Climbing a rope challenges your body so much more thoroughly than doing a biceps curl. Holding a person on your feet and moving them through interesting ranges of motion is so much harder and works so much more muscle than doing squats or leg presses. It also improves your flexibility instead of eliminating it. Balancing and stabilizing on a fabric with just your arms on the ground activates your chest so much more athletically than a synthetic, fixed activity like bench press. It also teaches your core and chest to work in tandem. Doing a back lever for ten seconds takes more energy and works more muscles than most people will call upon during an hour in the gym.
I find if people have goals like: I want to do the splits, a pike climb, a front lever, a hand stand, etc. they will work so much harder and feel so much more accomplished than they would from just exercising. They will also end up with a much more functional and athletic body.
Becoming an athlete also changes a person’s outlook on food. Instead of turning food into something to avoid, athlete’s look at food as something that they need and that nourishes them. I’ve found that when I have clients who eat poorly or drink heavily, they naturally scale back their drinking and seek out better food as they start to make progress in their training. It’s a huge win to have people shift from viewing food as something that makes them fat into something that helps them to get strong.
“Becoming an athlete” sounds intimidating, but it doesn’t need to be. For someone who can’t do a full blown pushup, it could be as simple as working up towards a three-quarters pushup on knees, then a full pushup on knees, then a three-quarters pushup on feet, which leads eventually to a full pushup. Same with pullups, head stands, hand stands, etc. The key thing is to set small goals and then train with the right level of consistency and intensity to achieve these goals. Each goal might seem small but these small goals will add up to a lot over a year and can take you to an amazing place in five.