• Phil

Formliness is next to Godliness

It’s OK, you can admit it – the pre-class demos bore you shitless. “Keep your feet flat, your chest proud, and your butt down.” Like the undertaker looking at dead body, you’ve heard these words so many times, they no longer hold any meaning. Now they just drift over your ears, much like farts beneath your nose – the sun-baked charms of that weird and wonderful alley. (If you’re a Quozer, you know).

If it’s boring, unpopular, and largely ignored, why do we cling to form with such zeal? Why don’t we just let it go?

Before I answer that question, I want to give my thoughts on the why of bad form. Why does it exist and persist? If we can find the root cause of our kinetic transgressions, we will surely be in a better position to remedy them?

– Just plain laziness. If it’s your first rodeo, poor form is perfectly understandable, however most people cannot claim that as an excuse. If you’ve heard the technique 10, 20, 200 times, and you squat like you’re bracing for impact on an Airbus A380, then more effort is required to untangle your wayward spine.

– Hiding from the pain – Correct form is the hardest [safest] way to perform a movement. It follows therefore that it is also the most painful way to perform that movement. Pain and people mix like turd and punch – i.e. not well. Shallow squats and short reps are our way of hiding from the pain.

The problem of course, is that the old adage is true: no pain, no gain. Bad form will lead you not into transformation, nor deliver you from evil, for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, and so on, and so forth. When it comes to results, correct form, and therefore pain, is where the party’s at.

– Flexibility – Good form demands a supple, limber frame. Short, stiff muscles are the enemies of graceful movement. Patient, progressive stretching should be part of your everyday routine.

– Weakness – This is the biggie, and one that most people overlook. Strength and form are closely linked. Weights are a miracle to human movement. I know of nothing that corrects form faster than functional strength training. When you practice a move with 100 pounds across your shoulders, how are you going to perform when the weight is gone? With control, precision, and power… aka the components of good form. You can spot people who lift in every class, simply by the way they move.

(If you want to do some strength training, we run a class called Body Salad that’s focused on exactly that. Email us and we’ll send you some information).

Even though it’s off topic, I feel I have to go here, lest I lose half the audience in a single bullet. If there are women who read the above, liked the idea, but concluded they couldn’t possibly,“coz I don’t want to get too big,” I would respectfully ask you to shut up. You don’t know what you’re talking about. You cannot build a good body without weights. It’s not possible. From the covers of magazines, to the catwalks of Victoria Secret, every female body you ever looked upon in awe is owed, in part, to weights. The notion that they will bulk you up is a complete and utter, falsehood. You have more chance getting pregnant by hitting your genitals with a hammer. Actually, that’s not true.

Perhaps the most insane fact, is that a smart, rational, capable woman who holds the above mistaken belief, will read the last paragraph, process it, and log off absolutely convinced that weights will bulk her up. Oh well, I tried.

– You’re already getting results. If a lack of form meant a lack of results, people would take steps to correct immediately. Sadly this is not the case. Tough classes decimate calories, so results will manifest even if your form looks like the elephant man. And if it’s working doing it your way (trunk and all), then why the hell change?

I’m glad you asked…

1) Superior Results – You can drop weight with the foulest technique, but one day, like a Las Vegan aquifer, results will dry up. Training is your food on the accelerator, bad form is your other on the brake.

Correct form is the largest possible range of motion. When you maximize the distance moved, you maximize the energy spent. Squat to a depth of 3 inches, you burn “X,” but if you damn well ass to grass, you burn “Y”. True, one squat change the world will not, but if you multiply that squat by 250 (to represent the total you dodged in class). Multiply that by 4 classes per week, and then 4 weeks per month, and that’s 4000 half-baked reps, that you didn’t get the most from. And that’s one move. Bad form is pervasive. What about the epileptic press-ups, the shallow lunges, and the burpees where you clap in front of your junk?

Imagine the pounds you’re not dropping, the bikinis you’re not rocking, the bedroom doors you’re not locking, because every time you train, you’re flushing half of it away.

2) Injuries – Few things suck more than a Dyson – injuries do. Wanting to train but not being able, is about as much fun as getting your Emirates ID renewed.

Training subjects the body to force, and form determines where that force goes. Each squat on your toes takes you one invisible step closer to the Beach Road clinic, and the man with the rubber skeleton.

I will end by saying that not every injury is linked to bad form. Olympic athletes, gymnasts, and ballet dancers are all masters of movement, and they all get injured too. The tissues have limits, which is why all physical activity comes with some risk. Correct form doesn’t guarantee you a life without injury, it merely stacks the deck in your favour.

If you enjoy exercise, why do it poorly? Kinetic perfection is beyond us all, dramatic improvement is not. After all, formliness, is next, to godliness.