Barriers to Exercise

by Mitch Davis

Each year, politicians and healthcare professionals alike lament over the fact that more and more Americans are growing unhealthy. We are climbing in obesity and diabetes numbers, heart health, and more. We’ve tried to correlate these numbers to a lot of things. Professionals have tried to blame alcohol, yet our current numbers do not match those of previous decades. Carbohydrates have been deemed the culprit, but again, our numbers are not nearly where they were in years past. And finally, sugar. Again, the numbers don’t add up. 

Is it really a nutritional problem or is it a movement problem? I’m not saying we shouldn’t clean up our diet, but that part is pretty simple. Quit eating like a toddler and things will start to clear up relatively quickly. I believe that we’ve grown way too concerned with how and why to move that too many individuals fear going to the gym. We turn on social media or read magazines and we listen to these so-called “experts” on the dangers of improper exercise. Personal trainers, chiropractors, and physical therapists will scare you into following their exact protocol or face getting hurt. Doctors will hear complaints of low back pain and suggest never squat or deadlift again. 

Maybe it’s time we stop fear mongering over the weight room. Instead of worrying how someone moves, maybe we just encourage them to move. The person who is just starting out on their fitness journey probably does not possess the capability of hurting themselves with too much weight. Try as we might, we cannot predict injury via movement norms. In fact, we have a hard time trying to predict injury through any mechanism. Instead, coaches, trainers, and doctors alike, should be far less concerned with how someone is moving, and be more concerned that they are moving. 

That squat-warm-up that you religiously follow is probably not making you a better squatter. Foam rolling prior to exercise isn’t making you less sore. Dead-bugs, bird-dogs, and cat-camels are not making you any less susceptible to injury. If you’re listening to someone who tells you that you must do something or else, chances are, they’re just not very bright. Stop chasing causation, when at most we only have minimal correlation. Stop fearing exercise and start enjoying the process. Who cares if your form doesn’t look exactly like the experts. Who cares if your training program is efficient. Who cares if you’re doing a movement that isn’t biomechanically perfect? Maybe start with just finding enjoyment in the weight room. Then, once you’ve experienced the fulfillment of exercise, and you’re curious as to how to perform better, reach out to a coach. But, if at any point they tell you that what you’re doing is harmful or dangerous, punch them in the mouth. Editor’s note: Our legal team needs to express that you absolutely should never harm someone in any way. Instead, remove yourself from the situation politely and professionally. 

If we want a healthy society and if we want to attempt to unclog our healthcare system, the first thing we must do is encourage each other to move. Stop placing barriers in front of you. No, you don’t have to walk 20k steps a day for health. Five thousand is a lot more than most of us are already getting. No, a deadlift won’t hurt your back. Your knees are fine going over your toes. Please, just go move and stop worrying so much.

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Mitchell Davis is the Director of Remote Coaching at Power Train Sports & Fitness.  He is a PhD candidate at Liberty University where he is pursuing his doctorate in Health & Exercise Science.  He has been a coach and educator for 13 years, serving in roles such as collegiate strength and conditioning coach, high school strength and conditioning coach, adjunct professor, personal trainer, and fitness consultant.  

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