Exercise is a great way to shape up your body, mind and spirit, but if you don’t have proper form, you could be doing more harm than good.
“[Proper form] dictates my training,” asserts Ryan Egan, co-owner of Rebel Fitness Academy in Truckee, Calif., and a Certified Personal Trainer with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. “Form, or quality movement, develops your body properly and safely.”
He should know: After almost losing his left leg twice due to a snowboarding accident and a rusty nail, Egan is in peak fitness. He’s also seen plenty of injuries, from torn ACLs to Achilles tendon ruptures, but cautions that many severe injuries stay dormant for years until “one day a ‘worker-outer’ picks up a laundry basket and their next step is a cortisone shot or surgery forever changing their life.”
The philosophy of Egan’s Rebel Fitness Academy is to approach training as an area of study. “Treating your training like practice while connecting the body and mind will ensure healthy gains and fantastic quality of training, which will transform your life.” Proper form is a key element of the mind-body connection. “The brain knows movements…when people take the time to learn proper form, they’ll also see benefits of proper muscular development and neuromuscular efficiency.”
One of the most common form of exercise is running, but according to a New York Times Magazine article from 2011, up to 79% of runners reported being injured. Egan describes proper running form as “a mid-foot strike, slight forward lean and a strike directly underneath the hip.” He recommends the Pose Running Method.
Another area where many people incur injuries is weight training. Science Daily reveals that weight training injuries are steadily increasing among all age groups and genders. The study states that free-weight use accounts for 90% of all injuries, but both free weights and weight machines come with risk.
“No one should ever, ever, ever be in a machine,” Egan insists. “There are so many things wrong with isolation training. You remove the effective design of stabilizer muscles.”
Egan’s weapon of choice is the kettlebell, which he calls “the AK-47 of training.” He also touts kettlebell training as “the best developer of back extensor strength endurance and gluteal development, which is the vital element to back health.” Kettlebells are an effective form of training but can be tricky to use, which is where someone like Egan, a Certified Kettlebell-Functional Movement Specialist, would come in.
Pilates builds core strength, which is important to maintaining balance and proper form, but Egan cautions to not become complacent with mat-based activities.
“It’s an extremely useful rehabilitative tool, but as soon as someone is able, progressing to bigger and better things is crucial,” Egan explained.
Egan encourages us to look past trendy workouts like Zumba. “It’s lame. If you want entertainment, go to a movie. If you want to improve your body and ensure it will continue to allow you a quality of life…train properly 3-6 times a week,” he said.
Can’t get to a personal trainer? Egan recommends recording yourself on video and emailing it to a coach for advice.
“Make a contact. You’d be surprised how many coaches will take a peek or even train over Skype. I do it and it’s pretty fun. Get onto strength and conditioning forums like Dragondoor.com. We are all professionals; just don’t convince yourself you know what you are doing [because] a magazine told you so.”
For more information on Rebel Fitness Academy and Ryan Egan, visit Rebelfitnessacademy.com.