These F&Fs very often are accepted as Laws in Fitness Training and
merit much deeper analysis by anyone who applies them in training or
These F&Fs have been assembled from an often gullible world of fitness
as a forum for discussion to enable fitness instructors to clear up
many misunderstanding and miseducation. . The objective of this column
is to offer an interactive educational resource to help training
practitioners become more competent and better informed professionals.
INTRODUCTION TO THIS F&F (FF16)
Popular magazine articles often act as a fruitful source of Facts & Fallacies in
the marvellous world of fitness. Over the years they have faithfully served as
an excellent teaching tool for my students who are given the task of locating
and analysing any misleading or outdated fitness or health information from
the popular or scientific media.
The following extracts from a 'Get Fit' article in the August 1996 South
African issue of LONGEVITY magazine (pp43-45) are currently serving as a
tutorial project for my students. Readers may be interested in applying their
own analytical skills to the same project. Unfortunately the illustrations
cannot be appended, but the printed matter provides us with enough material
for some useful dissections.
CONTRIBUTIONS FROM YOU?
EXTRACT 1: "Danie ..., master trainer for Reebok ...belongs to Reebok
Instructors Alliance, South Africa's leading fitness training organisation".
"Director Jannie ....has scientifically compiled the ideal exercise programme
for absolute beginners like Shelagh". These types of preamble, intended to
establish credibility, appear widely in most fitness publications and are
referred to by Robert Thouless ('Straight and Crooked Thinking' Pan Books
1974) as dishonest tricks. Identify all the 'tricks' or 'non-facts' in this extract
by referring to Thouless or by using your own analytical approach.
EXTRACT 2: The article included a series of 11 successive stages of a single
exercise, which was essentially a modified form of standing, toe-touching
with the knees flexed followed by kneeling and a kneeling stretch with arms
extended beyond the head, concluded by a return to standing. No added
resistance was used. Interestingly, this sequence was referred to as
"special strength and flexibility exercises".
The overall caption stated: "Get Flexible: Lengthen and Strengthen your
muscles with this total-body conditioning programme", followed immediately
by the advice: "Concentrate on perfect form when performing these moves, to
derive the maximum physical benefit and to achieve harmony of mind, body
and soul. Hold each move as you inhale and exhale (or vice versa) twice".
Critically analyse what you consider to be the main problems in this extract,
giving reasons for your comments.
EXTRACT 3: Beside a picture of Shelagh leaning forwards with her hands
resting on her flexed knees appear the following words: "As the lower back
muscles contract, feel your buttock and calf muscles extend". Draw on your
knowledge of muscle action to identify the problem/s here.
EXTRACT 4: Beside a picture of Shelagh kneeling on the floor with arms
stretched forwards and reaching out along the floor beyond her head, we find
the advice: "Make sure your shoulder blades stay together". Attempt to
follow this advice and comment upon its validity by drawing on your
knowledge of functional anatomy.
EXTRACT 5: In the last photograph we find Shelagh standing erect, feet
together, at the end of the entire 'lengthen and strengthen' sequence and being
told to: "Make sure your hip bones and pubic bones are in the same vertical
plane; and that the arches of your inner feet are lifted, and your toes touch".
Several problems are evident here. Identify and analyse them.
If anyone else comes across similar magazine articles filled with
other F&Fs, please share them with us - they can often serve as a
valuable teaching tool for fitness professionals.