Total-body conditioning is back
For the Appeal
Well, we’ve come full circle – from just plain exercise, to total body conditioning. In between, there were years of regimented jumping jacks, and years of music and fancy dance steps.
Then came the “circuit” method of exercise so you wouldn’t get bored with the “pain-or-no-gain” attitude toward fitness. There were years of “specificity,” working only certain areas of the body, excluding all others, and years of exercise devices. We went through the age of machines, special floors, longer and longer aerobic sessions with lower and lower impact, and separate workout programs for every student – body sculpting, muscle building, music beats per minute, and slow-twitch muscles.
Finally, it seems we have again arrived at the logical adaptation of fitness. Total-body conditioning! It’s been there all along, just hidden from view because of all the terms and new sales merchandise. The basis of total-body conditioning was, and still is, 20 or 30 minutes of good hard sweat at least three times a week, muscle strengthening at least two times per week, and a good dose of flexibility work.
What the average individual really wants is a total-body workout in one hour of sweat – less, if possible! Who has time for a long approach to fitness with an eight-hour job and another eight hours of work at home? Total conditioning of the body can be done easily in one hour of exercise, and it can be done safely with proper body alignment, instruction and attention to separate fitness levels.
Conditioning all the major muscle groups while you spend your hour of sweat is the important factor. The body is composed of fast- and slow-twitch muscle groups, and both need attention during your exercise program.
If you are a runner, then sprint for a short time, until you become breathless, then jog slowly or walk a longer time while you regain the aerobic state. This way, you work both those slow twitch- and fast-twitch muscle groups.
The use of only slow-twitch muscle groups with aerobics became popular because it helped burn fat deposits. But it left the fast-twitch muscle parts of the body unused and unconditioned – an unbalanced workout at best.
If you kick, kick higher for a while. If you swim, swim faster for short spurts. If you bicycle, find a hill now and then.
Every muscle in your body needs your usage, not just specific groups. For a beautiful body, one that has all the parts in the right place, you need the smoothing effect of total-body conditioning.
• Jerry Vance is the owner of Sweat Shop/Wet Sweat. She offers classes through the Carson City Recreation and Aquatics Center and is a fitness instructor for the Carson City Senior Citizens Center.