The tools and machines of modern fitness were, by and large, developed as physical therapy aids - tools used to rehabilitate the injured and disabled who needed to address certain impaired body parts, but were unable to use other parts of their body for whatever reason. With the popularization and proliferation of the machine, the health club has become an endless field of pulleys, levers and padded seats. Instead of actively engaging our muscles in synergy with each other (as they should be), we seek out immediate improvement for specific problem areas, and thereby missing the forest for the trees. Example: the rectus abdominis – the “six-pack” – the holy grail of non-functional aesthetic training. Trainees do thousands upon thousands of crunches in its pursuit, not realizing that this thin sheet of muscle is but a small portion of the overall spinal (“core”) musculature, and furthermore is simply a reflection of low body fat.
Enter now the current trend of “core training,” a step in the right direction, sure, but still symptomatic of the spot-training pandemic. The duty of the “core” is first and foremost stabilization and support of the torso. The movement muscles assist in spinal movement (flexion, extension, rotation, etc). This same spinal musculature is just as easily taxed through a compound exercise such as a back squat – in fact, even more so than popular “core training.”
We want to reclaim fitness tools as just that, tools – not crutches. We want to limit our reliance on outside assistance and create strength from within, generating greater structural stability by engaging muscles in time-tested, natural movements – instead of awkward, artificial isolated movements, using one-size-fits-all machines and methods. Exercises like the squat, the push-up, the lunge and pull-up – these movements are reflective of actual movements used throughout time and in actual life.