When people train they want to look a certain way, they want to lose weight fast, get a six pack of abs, toned legs and a firmer butt, And believe me I've been there! I remember during my first personal training session I asked my then trainer ( now life partner:) Dan Tolbert to make my legs look like Halle Berry's ( By the way, I'm still a little embarrassed to admit it). Dan being his brutally honest self explained that I would NEVER get Halle Berry's legs but that he could help me improve my strength, stamina, health, speed, and power. I remember thinking to myself :" Why do I need that?"At the time I was simply worried about my appearance and training like an athlete was a foreign concept.
I decided to trust him and for the next 12 months, I trained with Dan at a sports performance training facility located in King of Prussia PA; Which is now the location of my Dance and Fitness studio (ELLE FIT Dance and Fitness). Walking into Aspiring Champions for the first time; I remember a sense of motivation coming over me. There were athletes training one on one, in small groups and every one seemed so focused and hard working. When athletes train they are not worried about aesthetics, rather about improving performance, strength, speed, and agility. SO why should one who has a weight loss, or just a general health fitness goal train like an athlete? Here are my TOP 3 reasons WHY:
1. Improved athletic performance
When we think of athletes we often assume that they are great at their sports because of their "natural" talent. On the contrary many athletes including the famous MICHAEL JORDAN didn't start that way. As a matter of fact Michael Jordan was cut from his high school varsity team but with hard work and perseverance he later improved his athletic abilities. While training with Dan who has worked with athletes his whole career life; I got to practice ladder drills, sprints, explosive push ups, and power lifting, in addition to fast paced circuit training. Needless to say When I first tried HIIT sprints on the treadmill I thought I was going to pass out. For the first time I experienced the true meaning of working outside of my comfort zone! It wasn't pretty but it felt great when I was able to run for a whole mile without stopping just a few weeks later. Anaerobic training ( exercises performed in short fast bursts where the heart cannot supply enough oxygen to the muscles) is known to dramatically improve fitness and athletic performance.
2. It improves reaction time, reflexes, and heightened awareness
You may know that starting in our thirties, we all start to lose muscle mass. This loss in muscle contributes to achy joints, increased risk of injury, weaker bones, and higher risk of falling. Strength, power, agility, balance, flexibility and core training can help maintain your muscle mass, increase your endurance, build speed, and improve your reaction time. One of the best balance equipment you can use is the Bosu ball. Standing on the Bosu ball will challenge your stability; forcing the muscle around your ankles to be activated and over time become stronger. Power exercises such as ball slams, improve your reaction time, core strength, but what I enjoy most is letting loose by slamming the ball really hard on the floor:)
3. It improves self confidence
Training like an athlete allows you to achieve measured realistic goals which in turn boost your self confidence and health. One of my sports performance goals this year was to run a 5K in under 30 minutes. Through a rigorous 9 months training routine composed of strength, power, long steady runs, and sprints I was able to reach my goal. My cardio-respiratory fitness improved dramatically as I was able to sustain 30 minutes of fast pace running. When you see measurable progress you are more likely to stick to a plan and it will give you such a sense of accomplishment! Another positive aspect of athletic training is aesthetics. While athletes are not concerned with the way they look, their bodies reflects all the hard work and dedication they put in training. Look at Misty Copeland, Michael Phelps, Serena Williams, or Lebron James for example; their strong muscular physique is the result of years of hard work. There is something empowering about an athletic body. You stand taller, you feel stronger, more agile, and more confident.
During the 2018 FIFA World Cup I was so inspired by the power of young French soccer player Kylian Mbappe's sprints. I enjoyed watching him show off to the crowds after he each goal scored because I know all the hard work it took to get there.
You may just have a weight loss goal and while you may not see yourself as an athlete, try athletic training and see all the positive changes it can bring into your life!