Mindset: Shifting the Strength Paradigm

What I love most about the OPTI group performance program isn’t the kettlebell swings and snatches, heavy dead lifts or double front squats. It’s not the sweaty faces, chalked up hands, and smiling faces. It’s not even the feedback I get from students about about fat loss, strength gains and confidence building. Although those elements are all highly satisfying to me as an instructor, what really pleases me is this:

The ability to guide clients into a strength and conditioning paradigm shift.

My role as instructor and coach is not to simply train, but teach. I aim to educate clients as to why and how we train as we do, and give them the tools they need to alter their mindset. When clients can identify incorrect movement or give cues to other clients, it means I’ve really done my job. When the paradigm of a client changes from the disorganized cluster that is the mainstream fitness world, to the focused, systematic and purposeful mindset of true strength and conditioning-it is a beautiful thing.

I know I have asked a lot of all of you. I have effectively asked you to put your faith in me and do whatever I say. I have required that you come on board with the program completely or don’t come on board at all; strength training outside of class is strictly taboo unless it’s cleared by me and you have all processed and accepted this requirement. While I welcome and encourage questions, curiosity, and inquisitive dissent, ultimately I am the expert guide and my advice and recommendations should be followed. And all of you have gotten on board with that!!! It may seem harsh and strict, but the tight ship is essential for progression, injury prevention and ultimately, results. The fact that you, as students, have immersed yourself in the program and basically drank the OPTI kool-aid, well, it makes me beam with pride.

The paradigm has shifted from long, slow cardio on the elliptical machine to short, powerful bursts of swings, agility and airdyne sprints. The paradigm has shifted from isolating body parts in a body builder style of strength training to total body, functional movements designed to train the body as a unit. We’ve shifted from training with fixed machines to kettlebells, from spending hours in the gym to 30-60 minutes, from quantity to quality, and from crunches and “ab work” (which actually hinder back health and contribute to low back pain) to planks and other stability exercises for improving core strength. Most importantly we have shifted our paradigm from “working out” to “training”. Every time we pick up the bells we do so with intention, integrity and purpose. Every time we swing a bell we are “practicing the swing” as opposed to just swinging. Every time we perform a TGU we are practicing movement, stability, control, mobility, as opposed to just doing it for the heck of it. It is this type of purposeful training that creates strong, solid bodies and produces individuals with the body awareness and focus necessary to perform with physical integrity-both in sport and in the game of life.

The mindset of most gym goers is to simply get exercise out of the way, going through the motions and checking exercise off the to-do list. This is not you. If it ever was, it is not anymore. You are not an average gym goer. You are not a slave to the nautilus machines or the long walks on the treadmill. You do not cut workouts out of Men’s Health or Shape magazines and mindlessly wander through useless exercise after useless exercise. You are an OPTI Group Performance Member. You train with purpose. You train with intensity. You train with the intention of moving your body in the most efficient and effective manner, building strength, power, mobility and stamina. You dedicate the time necessary to foam roll, stretch and do mobility work so that your body can move more freely and effectively build the armor necessary to reduce the risk of injury and chronic pain.

Mindset is one of the pillars of the OPTI methodology. A well grooved mindset is integral in the quest for supreme fitness. It is mindset that guides your actions and fuels your efforts. It is essential in order to successfully train, eat and live to support your body, and without dialing in our mindset we are fighting a losing battle-simply surviving until the next obstacle sets us back. With the proper mindset, the proper paradigm, you can achieve anything.

You are amazing. Simply amazing. Each and every one of you. Your mindset and dedication make you unique and will serve to make you stronger from the inside out. You are elite, and I am proud to call you my students. I implore you to continue to adjust and refine your mindset in terms of health and fitness. Every time you consider doing something that is detrimental to your health (skipping class, a junk food binge, smoking, drinking excessive alcohol, not listening to your body, etc) ask yourself if this fits in with your new paradigm. Does this action support my goals? Does this action define the mindset I have worked so hard to achieve? With purpose and intention we can build better bodies and stronger minds, and through it all I am honored and humbled to be your coach.

Power to you!

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