Just for the Health of It

Columnist: 'Branch out'

Gavin Nirmaier, Columnist

The fitness world is tough to navigate at times because of the extremes different parts of the community present to the general public. In some parts of the community, 21-day diets, CrossFit and foam rolling are all the greatest things in the world and you cannot improve by doing anything else. In other parts of the community, all of those things are denounced in favor of a different thought process.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not trying to shed a negative light on any of the facets of fitness. However, I believe that with all the noise that is made by different fitness fads, pressure can be placed on members of the fitness community to conform strictly to some of these fads. The problem is, people have difficulty branching out when they conform to one of these types of fitness; they believe that their chosen style is the only way to improve.

Personally, I have run into this problem a couple of times. Most recently, I have focused on powerlifting; I have researched it, practiced it and have had some success. However, in my strict following of a powerlifting-style plan, I have lost other things, namely flexibility. A few weekends ago, I was encouraged to do a simple 30-minute home yoga routine. I was hesitant at first, because I already knew that it would be a train wreck. I was finally convinced to perform the routine and was happy that I did so afterwards.

Branching out is important. It is fine to have a focus when training—in fact, I encourage it. However, getting so wrapped up in a certain style of exercise that you stop doing anything else can be dangerous. Being a well-rounded individual in terms of fitness is just as important as being well-rounded in other aspects of life. The yoga routine I performed may not have directly helped my powerlifting routine, but the mobility that I gained from the program may have improved my squat pattern as a result of loosened hip flexors.

This week, do something different. Don’t become so married to one idea that you discount all others—try to realize the potential benefits of other forms of exercise and how they will help the main modes of exercises that are important to you. Branching out will keep you fresh and break up the monotony of your normal routine.