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Taking the Focus Off the Fat PDF Print E-mail
Written by Frank Fletcher   
Wednesday, 20 August 2008 11:16

Todays health and fitness industry is obsessed with fat.

"Fat is bad!
Fat is the enemy!
Everybody needs to lose fat!
Buy XYZ to burn off the fat!"

Initial client expectations at my gym and in my private practice are centered around fat loss. It's just expected that as a trainer, my focus is on weight loss and more specifically fat-loss. Yet, nothing can be further from the truth. My goals for the client center around what is healthful.

As a post-rehab specialist, my work usually requires me to:

  1. Assess range of motion, muscle tonality, strength, muscle reactivity, daily/occupational activity, proprioceptive capability, and more in order to: (see next)
  2. Re-create natural pain-free movement patterns in a controlled environment that the client can then build from.
  3. Use whatever tools available to me (Myofascial Release, Trigger Point Therapy, Proprioceptive Neuro-Muscular Facilitation, etc) to bring about incremental changes in the client's muscular structure (and neurological control of) in order to accomplish pain-free movement.
  4. get the client moving!

As a sports-specific trainer, my job I often have to:

  1. Assess (as above) but more specific to the primary sport.
  2. neuro-muscularly enforce efficient movement patterns to increase performance
  3. increase and dynamically balance proprioception, flexibility, endurance, strength and power in a manner suitable to the client's sport

When I wear my various trainer hats, my primary focus is not on fat-loss. It is on healthy movement. Body composition is secondary.

That is not to say that I do not receive my share of clients with body compositions that would be considered unhealthy. Anybody who knows the industry (and particularly the average American life-style), knows that we all get our fair share of larger clients. During an intake/assessment session, when we get around to discussing the clients goals, there is always an element of, "I need to lose x lbs! ... I need to get rid of this fat!"

At times like this, a bell goes off in my head. I know that "fat" is most often a convenient scape-goat for a non-healthful lifestyle. It allows an individual to create an enemy that has nothing to do with them - it allows them to quietly dispose of the fact that they are responsible for their current state of being. All this goes on in my head, but I don't often bring attention to the fact. There is enough negativity surrounding a client's body composition, that I don't need to add recrimination to the mix.

Instead, I try to get them to dig deeper as to why they would like to change their body composition. There are many possible reasons. "I'd like to be able to dance again." "I'd like to be able to play with my kids." "I want to be able to hike Half-Dome." "I don't want to die prematurely of a heart-attack." "I'd like to get off my blood-pressure medication." "I'd like to be able to do my job without this pain in my knees." "My doctor says I could become diabetic if I don't change my lifestyle."

These are the goals that are worthy of our focus. If gaining weight is a byproduct of an unhealthy lifestyle, then often, it is just a matter of getting the lifestyle back on course - the inverse. Forget the fat. Forget the anger. Forget the guilt. Forget the fads. Get off the fat-wagon!

In the end, it comes down to at easy formula:

Healthy Goals --> Healthy Lifestyle --> Healthy Body


Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 October 2009 23:55

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