“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” – Steve Jobs


From the UK’s Daily Mail (full story, here):

His hamstrings are ‘ruined’. His spine is crushed. He lives in constant pain… albeit in a 20-bedroom mansion in Ireland (where he and his wife like to dress up and eat Thai takeaways in his dressing room!). After a life of high-kicking success and rock ’n’roll excess, Michael Flatley tells Event it’s time to hang up THOSE dancing shoes

The very simple question here, is this: would a safe, effective and efficient strength and conditioning program have saved Mr. Flatley from crumbling like this?

My contention is, without a doubt, absolutely.

And the thing is, from a programming standpoint it wouldn’t even be that complicated.  Even while he was touring.  Hell, baseball players and golfers (last of the major sports to seriously adopt smart strength and conditioning protocols) pull this off throughout the year — in-season and off.

Do a little investigation into the injury incidence of modern and ballet dancers and you begin to wonder if you’re looking at the risk-of-injury prognosis and expected career lengths of NFL (Not For Long) players.  Dancing is brutal on a body — especially so on a frail body.  Check out this story from Colorado Public Radio (hit the “listening” button on the right).

So why haven’t dancers adopted smart resistance exercise as part of their overall training regimen?  My guess is, the perception that strength training will make a person beastly and “muscle bound”.  It’s hard to believe now that the same faulty thought paradigm once held sway in football, and up until just recently, in baseball as well.

The other faulty thought paradigm keeping dancers from adopting a smart S&C protocol are the very terms “muscle” and “hypertrophy”.  Mention either term to a dancer, and you’ll more than likely elicit thoughts of this:

Phil Heath
Phil Heath

As opposed to, say, something like:

Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee

…or even a Fight Club ready Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt
Brad Pitt

Those with even rudimentary knowledge of strength and conditioning realize just how ludicrous these ideas are.  However, these are exactly the perceptions we in the “enlightened” fitness industry have to battle day-in and day-out.   And not just with athletic populations who’ve yet to adopt smart strength and conditioning programs, but with the general population as well.  A general population, by the way, that still equates “weight loss” with jogging, and weight lifting and muscle mass with, well… the Phil Heaths of the world.

I’ve floated many metaphors over the years in an attempt to educate those unfamiliar with strength and conditioning. Sometimes the “construction” metaphor works, the idea that building the Hoover dam, or a piece of kirigami (essentially, origami made with scissors), are both forms of “construction”.   And yet, massive earth movers have as much place in the construction of kirigami as specialized scissors  do in dam building.  In strength and conditioning, as in construction, the tools and methodologies have to be consistent with the expected outcome.

So yes, some projects do require the liberal use of “heavy equipment”, i.e., hours of blaring music, black iron and chalk dust in an attempt to build as much hypertrophy and strength as humanly possible.  But other projects require a more balanced approach; heavy doses of mobility work, pin-pointed muscle group activation, and a dash of dedicated strength work. Safe, efficient and effective being the key terms here.

Note: for the purposes of this post, I’ll leave the genetic portion of this equation untouched.  It plays, though, a huge factor in the overall outcome.  See what I’ve written previously on the Five Ts.

In fact, I could see a dancer’s regimen looking a lot like a modified Efficient Exercise session.  And what would be a more safe, effect and efficient way to tackle the dedicated strength portion of a dancer’s needs than with ARXFit technology?

And one thing that people outside of the training world should know is that most strength and conditioning tools are crossover tools, in that the application depends on how the tool should be used.  In fact, our Efficient Exercise studios are packed with such equipment; our trainers being experts at proper choice, use and application.  Marrying state-of-the-art technology with the best S&C minds anywhere produces results targeted for any “construction” project.

I’ll close with the following.  Below is a screenshot one our trainer’s, Jim Keen, took following one of his recent client sessions. The verbiage below the screenshot is Jim’s description of the client’s condition and progress.  Take away?  Smart training can produce results for any and every situation!

I only wish we could have gotten to Michael Flatley sooner.

Increases in strength over time; the definition of safe, effective and efficient progress.
Increases in strength over time; the definition of safe, effective and efficient progress.

Here’s Jim’s description of that screenshot:

Thought you guys would dig this. Corky May (age 69) had a knee replacement in November. Then in January, following his acute rehab, I began giving him 2-minute Countdown Mode static contractions at his weekly workouts. This past Wednesday, pictured here, we were finally able to incorporate dynamic motion into his routine. I measured out a repeatable 2″ range of motion and turned the motor speed down REALLY slow so that it took about 8 seconds to complete the 2″ of travel.

You can see in the data table on the right that his static performances had been getting better and better; that’s called “healing!”

Then, check out how his isometric strength (gray line) is in between his negative and positive strength. You’ve *read* about this a bunch of different times, but it’s cool to see in practice.

In another few weeks, we’ll do a 4″ range of motion. Then 8″, etc. This is what knee rehab can look like with ARX. Smart!


So I’ll see everyone at Paleo f(x) this weekend!  And if you can’t make it to Austin for the big show, remember you can livestream (for free!) a couple of the stages.  Not the same as being there, for sure.  But at least you’ll get taste of the show!

In health, fitness, and Ancestral Wellness –




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