“We pride ourselves on being movement specialists, not just trainers,” explained Sara Adler, a coach at EPX Elite Performance in Los Angeles, California. The gym offers personal, semi-private and small group training, providing a customized approach to fitness that focuses on functional movements.
“We are concerned with you coming in and getting an efficient, effective and safe workout,” said Adler. “We take way more time with our clients — we take a personal approach. We don’t have the same blanket program for everyone. It is very customized and very personal. We have a reason for what we are doing.”
The reason for focusing on a movement-based approach is increased physical benefits. According to Adler, functional training burns more calories than your traditional bodybuilder-style, isolation workout. “You get more bang for your buck,” added Adler. “Our body is not made in segments — we are one, solid unit that is supposed to move together. We are teaching you how to do that, and in doing so you are going to walk out of here and when you pick up your groceries you are going to know how to do it properly. When you are carrying things upstairs, you are going to know what muscles you are supposed to be using.”
For Adler, the first step of any client orientation is to learn about their fitness history — what sort of activities have they done in the past, what is their lifestyle like? “Then I transition into what they are looking for moving forward,” she said. “What do they want to get either emotionally or physically? Are they trying to lose weight? Are they trying to rehab an injury? I’m trying to narrow down exactly what they want so I have a better understanding of what to give them.”
Next Adler and the client will move into a movement assessment. She will examine their ability to complete three standard movements — the squat, the push up and some sort of pulling motion, like a row. “I like to let them do their thing so that I can see exactly how they move and it lets me have a game plan of how to approach their program moving forward,” explained Adler.
When Adler first began working with client Carol Truscheit a little over a year ago, she was struggling to complete very basic movements. Truscheit suffered from shoulder pain, hip pain, knee pain and so on. At first, sessions focused on re-teaching her how to move properly. Over the past year, Adler has seen major improvement in Truscheit’s mobility.
“The biggest change has been in the way she moves,” added Adler. “She couldn’t do things with her arms because her shoulder hurt. She didn’t know how to activate certain muscles. It was bigger picture for her and having her understand what her body is supposed to do and seeing the difference has been amazing. For example, she could barely squat before and now I have got her doing 60-pound kettlebell squats and she does it without any pain. She feels good and it looks good.”
According to Truscheit, she has also noticed numerous changes in her body. To date, she has lost at least 10 pounds, if not more. “Inches are melting off all over,” said Truscheit. “I have more strength, I am more flexible and I have better balance. My balance has changed tremendously. With my flexibility, I could barely move my leg in a certain position before, and now it goes without me thinking about it.”
After seeing success in so many clients, Adler recommends embracing this functional, movement-based approach to fitness. She encourages other trainers and club operators to be open to this revolution in fitness. “Open your mind and get as much education as possible,” suggested Adler. “Go to as many seminars as possible to make sure that you are going to give your client a safe workout. Especially if you are new to the functional, movement-based style, make sure to educate yourself. And train yourself this way. You want to be able to give your client the best experience, so train yourself the way you are going to train them.”