Friday, March 20, 2009

Functional Training

I have been thinking a lot lately about how there is no dedicated training program for the development of the human brain and nervous system in business and industry.

We have Six Sigma training, Lean training, and Total Quality Management (TQM) training but there is no systematized method that industry uses at this time in order to train the nervous systems of their employees.

Their employees – the ones that execute the above systems!

What business has done is to encourage participation in specific learning modules/ seminars, etc. in order to enable their employees to learn more about their specific jobs, but hasn’t done anything to affect the big picture (developing the human organism as a whole).

As an ex-Physical Educator, this reminds me of the different physical training methods that exist.

There are those that have the bodybuilding type mentality – those that train each individual muscle simply for size without any regard as to how it works with the other muscles in the bigger picture.

Then there is the functional training group.

They are the one who concerned mainly with how things work together. They train to increase function, leaving the asthetics in the background.

However, when you would see a bodybuilder next to someone whose main drive is functional training, the functional trainer would have a better appearance by most people’s standards.

Bodybuilders are often referred to as being “all show, and no go”, which is a reference to how inefficiently they are put together (I would describe it by saying how poorly integrated they are).

Those concerned mainly with functional training will consistently outperform so-called bodybuilders in functional activities (aren’t all activities functional?!) because they have learned how to use more of their whole self, while the other training method produces a bunch of “parts” that don’t work well together because they haven’t been trained to work together.

And I won't even get into the shrinkage part of it.....

When looking at employee development in business and industry from this perspective, one can see that they are creating “bodybuilders” – they’re only training a small portion of their employees potential.

Corporations are missing out on fully capitalizing on their human element.

They are only training the “thinking” part of their employee’s self-image.

And remember, how you take action and function in the world is determined by your self-image.

As we’ve mentioned before, your self-image consists of four parts:

Feeling self image
Thinking self image
Emoting self image
Movement self image

The contribution of each of the components to any particular action varies, but each component will be present to some extent in every action we take.

To only train a small portion of our self-image is to miss out on an incredible opportunity for not only growth, but true transformation.

And in an economy like the one we’re in right now, we need transformation.

When corporations begin focusing on developing the entire human organism - their human element - we will begin to see how truly capable we really are.

Do you or your company approach your development with a bodybuilding mentality?

Send us an email and let us know what you are doing to stay ahead of your competition!


Chad Estes
Movement Specialist

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Learning From Great Athletes

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about great athletes and what it is that makes them better than the average athlete.

I feel that there is an incredible amount to learn from these greats, and that these learnings can be applied to the business world - and even your personal life, for that matter.

When I speak of great athletes, I am thinking about those that have rewritten the record books in their particular sport - Barry Sanders and Walter Payton come to mind from the world of football.

To look at them, they aren’t all that impressive.


Obviously, watching them play was impressive, but to look at their personal stats (height, weight, bench press, 40 yard dash time, vertical jump, etc.), they’re not that impressive.

They were short, undersized, and not particularly stronger or faster than their counterparts – even their counterparts that were benchwarmers.

Some would say that the differentiating factor was that they had natural instincts that made them better than their peers.


Instinct is a much over used term. Instinct implies an inborn pattern of behavior that all members of a species have access to. We as humans have very little instincts.  We have to learn everything it is that we do, especially in terms of movement.

So, then, what is it that they’ve learned that makes them better than the large majority of average athletes?

From my point of view, a large part of what makes the Walter Payton’s and the Barry Sanders’ of the world so much better than their counterparts is that they learned to how to be masters over their own muscular tension.

Let me explain a bit.

Barry Sanders and Walter Payton had the ability to turn tension on and off in their bodies like a light switch. They could go from tense to loose and back to tense quicker and more efficiently than their competition.

That ability is what allowed them to contribute to so many highlight reels throughout their careers. It allowed them to make those trying to tackle them look silly – they couldn’t get their hands on them.

They could stop on a dime. They could change direction quicker than anyone - and it often left opposing defenses grasping for air.

And they made it look easy…….

So then, how does this apply to the business world - to your personal life?

As I’ve written about many times before, stress is experienced throughout your entire self.

Each of us has an individual body pattern that accompanies the feelings of stress, anxiety, and fear - a pattern of movement, of breathing, of structural alignment – all of which is controlled (by your brain) through the muscular tensions in your body.

And those patterns have been learned throughout the course of our lives.

And from how I understand that our mind works, we cannot become conscious of a feeling before it is expressed by a motor mobilization. Therefore, there is no feeling so long as there is no body attitude.

That’s a HUGE statement. You might want to read it again.

There is no feeling so long as there is no body attitude (they are basically the same thing).

Heck, you can’t be an “uptight” person unless you are literally uptight!

The good news is that you have the ability to learn a better way.

You can learn to release those tensions in your body that aren’t serving you. You know, the ones that cause the muscles in your neck and back to “scream" at you by the end of the day. Those patterns that serve as the basis for fear, anxiety, and stress. Which, in many folks, will eventually lead to repetitive stress injuries and cumulative trauma disorders.

So, by learning to apply what the great athletes throughout history have, you can:

- Face your fears – and let them go

- You can stymie stress.

- And you can ace anxiety.

And by doing so, you prevent those people and situations from “tackling” you so that you can make that big play!

And if you make enough big plays, you will be inducted into your own hall of fame.

What have you learned (and applied) from those outside of your chosen field in order to better yourself?

Leave a comment with your thoughts on this article.


Chad Estes
Movement Specialist

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