The Antihero; Why I Believe In Foundational Fitness

Mar 2, 2023

 by Liz Rodriguez

Have you ever googled “beginner workouts”?  When I did, a sample beginner total body workout appeared that included walking lunges, jumping jacks, high knees and even a Russian twist.  This is the perfect beginner workout, as long as your hip and knee mobility are solid, you can reach your arms overhead with no pain, you jump up and down on a regular basis and your rotation is above average.  Somewhere along the way, fitness people began to dictate what a beginner workout is. That’s like asking Einstein for a beginner physics course. It doesn’t make any sense.


We are in a time that people are well aware of the benefits of working out. It strengthens your heart, helps you to lose weight, keeps your joints healthy, and can even help with depression. Yet there aren’t a lot of mainstream progressive workouts for beginners.


We are seeing more gyms and studios cater to older adults which is great. But if you are over 30 and below 60, well, just do the incline walking at Orangetheory and the smaller weights.  Just do less reps. Just choose lighter weights.  There is no plan.


I find this fascinating since you can take beginner courses to help you take better pictures for Instagrams, beginner cooking courses to show you how to make scrambled eggs, but there aren’t beginner workout classes at every gym and studio. Why is that?


A phrase that has stuck with me since starting my career back in 2005 is “When you start getting bored, they start getting it.” It reminds me daily to treat every exercise like it’s the first time someone is doing it. Not only does this ensure they are going to do the exercise correctly, it also allows that person to not feel like a complete idiot or beginner because you are coaching them through how to complete a simple exercise. 


Because that’s just it. It’s a simple exercise in my book. In my client's world it could be extremely challenging. When I first got a financial advisor he asked what my expectations were. I told him I was college educated, I had put myself through an MBA with no debt and made pretty good money. But that didn’t mean I knew how to invest my money. I had made my career being an expert in fitness; I was looking for the same level of commitment and expertise with whomever was dealing with my money.


I remember attending a fitness seminar back in 2009 that started to help me formulate what I now call my training philosophy.  The gentleman leading the weekend was a guy named Tom Purvis and he is a legend in our industry for people looking to really learn how to progress people and keep them injury free.


He challenged us on why we start people at doing cardio for 20-30 minutes. “What about 5 minutes? What about 10 minutes? Why are we jumping to 20-30 minutes? Why must we do 10 reps of something?” It made me realize that I needed to create programs that started people where they were at; not where my certification or classes in college told me to start them.


Training people now, over 10 years after experience, is the same process, but probably even more difficult. People’s lives are filled with endless to-do lists. They are overworked. They have new compensation problems due to phones and computers.  So starting them with jumping jacks and mountain climbers just isn’t appropriate. How can we expect them to stick with working out forever if we are starting them at level 6 instead of level 1?


Working out shouldn’t be super hard; you shouldn’t have to dread it.  We have these amazing bodies that are able to do so much.  But we also need to be realistic and appreciate starting at the beginning to ensure we progress in the right way.