What is the BEST Piece of Fitness Equipment Available?
The best exercise equipment (and only a few people use it correctly?)
Guest Post By Tim Borys CEO, FRESH! Wellness Group
As a fitness professional, I get asked A LOT by people what the best exercise or best piece of fitness equipment is.
After I resist the strong urge to scream (seriously…it’s THAT many times), I calmly explain that exercise variety is important and there’s no single exercise that is “best”. The main message is that as long as the person is doing things correctly and mixing things up with movement variety, they will see improvements.
With regards to the question about the best piece of fitness equipment, there are a couple of answers I provide. Both of them are related and often surprise people. Which one I decide to use depends on how cheeky I’m feeling at the time.
My comedic (but no less true) answer is that the best piece of equipment is “the one you actually use on a regular basis”.
The follow up to that is “In fact, the best fitness tool ever created is your own body”.
When they laugh, I say…”No, SERIOUSLY!”.
People are often so caught up in trying out the latest fitness tool or gadget that they forget to master the use of their own body.
The great news is that learning effective movement doesn’t require any equipment. Just your body and enough space to do the movements you desire.
This is why I like athletic style training and typically avoid traditional machines and isolation or bodybuilding exercises (except in very specific and temporary situations).
As a fitness professional, I see my job as helping people move through life in the best way possible. The traditional methods of exercise and fitness that most of us learned in our younger years are not very effective at promoting better movement.
I often make a joke that the fitness boom of the ‘70’s and ‘80’s was responsible for creating the physiotherapy boom of the ‘80’s and ‘90’s.
Sadly, it’s true. What we were taught about fitness and exercise in high school Phys. Ed. has been the root of much pain, frustration, and disengagement with physical activity and exercise.
In order to have the greatest positive impact on my clients’ health and longevity as possible, I work hard to help them implement my Movement Spectrum™ into their lives.
Let’s do a quick overview of the Movement Spectrum to understand why it’s so important for you, your health, and your ability to move through life more effectively.
The Movement Spectrum
The movement spectrum is a simple continuum of physical development that EVERY person should be aware of and be harnessing its power each day.
Using it properly is at the heart of increased performance in life. Failure to understand and use it is at the root of most injury, frustration, and failure to achieve your physical goals.
Everything starts with MOVEMENT. I define movement as simply taking each joint in your body through its full range of motion on a regular basis (multiple times per day is ideal). This can also be seen as basic mobility.
The next step is ACTIVITY. This encompasses our activities of daily living (ADL)…Everything we do each day at work, home, and play (Grocery shopping, getting dressed, working, doing household tasks, locomotion, etc.).
The more active we are each day, the healthier we will be. Sixty or seventy years ago, people were much more active because there weren’t as many modern conveniences. The structure and mindset of our modern lifestyle is a key factor in the health challenges we face each day.
When we look at it from a different perspective, we clearly see that many of our modern “conveniences” are quite inconvenient when related to our health.
After activity, comes EXERCISE. Exercise is merely activity that is done above a baseline of intensity. You do something that gets your heart rate and effort level above normal. This can include work, hobbies, games, leisure pursuits and much more.
The general recommendation is to exercise at least 3 times per week for 30 minutes, but 4 or 5 would be better. Plus, these “sessions” can be as little as 10-15 minutes each.
In fact, research shows that multiple shorter duration activity or exercise sessions are often more effective than a single, longer session.
This is particularly true when it comes to compliance (finding time), overcoming the psychological perception of “working out”, and for specific health outcomes such as weight loss, reducing waist circumference, and managing blood glucose without medications1.
It’s also important to understand that there doesn’t need to be a specific goal to these exercise sessions. Just get your heart rate and effort level above your usual baseline. How you do this is less relevant from a health standpoint.
For example, if you’ve become more active by walking more each day, simply take this walking and do it at a faster pace. Perhaps you choose to take the stairs more often, but walk up them two at a time or challenge yourself to do them faster, more times, or add extra flights.
These little choices each day begin to add up, while also slowly shifting your mindset and focus to the small daily choices you have to improve your health.
FITNESS comes in when we take exercise, and focus on a specific physical aspect such as:
- Cardiovascular capacity
- Flexibility/Range of motion
PERFORMANCE is when we take Fitness activities, and add competition (whether with yourself or others). Typically some scoring or specific competitive parameters are introduced.
The interesting thing is that FITNESS and PERFORMANCE are completely optional.
To be healthy, happy, and achieve your ideal body composition, you don’t need to do them.
More importantly, if you try to do them without doing the previous 3 steps (in order), you actually decrease your chances of success, and increase the risk of failure, frustration, and injury.
That’s because 80% or more of the overall health benefits come from the first three phases (MOVEMENT, ACTIVITY, EXERCISE).
Even more relevant to people is that none of these phases have anything to do with “going to the gym”.
Sure, you can do them in the gym, but a fitness centre is not necessary and often counterproductive because it leads people to focus on the wrong things for their needs.
People often skip the first three steps and try to jump straight to fitness or performance (do New Year’s Resolutions, or joining a “Bootcamp” come to mind?).
This typically leads to injury, frustration, and burnout.
The great news is that Movement, Activity, and Exercise can be done ANYWHERE and don’t require any fancy EQUIPMENT. The only skill you need is to learn how to move PROPERLY.
On the topic of moving properly, there’s a simple framework that I teach my clients. We won’t have time to cover it in detail here, but I’ve provided a resource at the bottom of the post to help.
There are 7 foundational movement patterns to learn that will form the basis of every movement, exercise, sport, or activity you do. These patterns are influenced by 4 simple, yet important physical principles.
Learning to understand and master these skills is the most important thing you can do for your future physical health. It’s OK, they are very simple and straightforward to learn.
The 7 foundational (primal) movement patterns are:
- Push (overhead and horizontal)
- Pull (overhead and horizontal)
- Gait (Single Leg Transition)
The 4 physical principles are:
You are likely already familiar with many of these movements and principles. They key is to ensure you are doing them correctly. 95% of people (including most fitness professionals) aren’t! As mentioned, check the resource below to learn more.
To summarize, the solution is to simply move your body correctly, and then do it more often.
Making this happen provides an amazing list of benefits to you, including:
- More energy
- Better sleep
- Improved moods
- Increased productivity
- Decreased stress levels
- Greater confidence, and self esteem
- And much more
If we think about our current work from home (WFH) situation through the lens of the Movement Spectrum, we see that it opens up a completely new perspective.
Thinking (and acting) from this perspective will help you realize that the movement spectrum isn’t something you “take a break from” while gyms aren’t open. It’s part of who you are, and what you choose to do daily.
You will also realize that you don’t NEED a gym and that you can harness this phenomenon to improve your energy, health, and happiness. The result is decreasing the impact of stressors so you can sleep better, reduce stress, and be more productive.
Sounds like a great option to me!
From this day forward, I challenge you to be conscious of the daily opportunities you have to harness the power of the movement spectrum. The “small stuff” (like movement, activity, and exercise) matter the most.
Do these properly, and you will be amazed at how much your health and fitness level also improve!
Next time you are tempted to blame a lack of exercise on not having the right equipment or facility, I encourage you to harness the Movement Spectrum and make time for movement, activity, and exercise.
You might just find yourself motivated to take it to the next level and do a “workout”…or not. The choice is always yours!
I hope you enjoyed this article to answer the question about what is the best piece of fitness equipment available. Have a wonderful week.
P.S. To learn more about how to move correctly, here are a couple options (and discounts) for you:
1. For personalized help:
- Book a private Functional Movement Analysis session: 1 hour of private coaching to walk you through the 7 Primal Patterns and 4 Principles at a high level
- Book a Jumpstart Coaching Package to dive deeper into the movements and principles over three private coaching sessions.
2. For an on-demand, online tools and resources:
- Register for my Movement Foundations online course.
This self-paced program takes you step by step through each of the seven foundational patterns and the four physical principles in an easy to follow video series.
- Health Stand community members receive 50% off with the code: HSN50
Register at www.freshgroup.ca/movement
- Download the FRESH! Fitness mobile coaching and accountability app (www.freshfitness.ca/app)
- Message me through the app for 60 days of free PRO access.
P.P.S. Here’s a summary of the movement spectrum
- To be done multiple times every day.
- Take each of your joints through a full range of motion whenever you have the chance.
- Also includes the essential movements (primal patterns), range of motion monitoring, balance, and coordination needed to live life (brush teeth, get dressed, stand, walk, sit, stabilize).
- This is also done each day.
- Includes Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s), but some of the greatest general health benefits can come from expanding your ADL’s. Take the stairs, walk more, avoid using as many “labour saving modern conveniences” as you can.
- Performed at least three days a week
- More structured activity with the purpose of taking your body
- Above baseline levels of intensity
- Examples include: active games and sports, physical play, brisk walking, light jogging, exercise classes done for general health.
- Place a premium on fun, variety, and overall enjoyment.
- Exercise sessions targeted to improve a specific physical parameter (strength, power, endurance, agility).
- Not essential for base level health, but highly recommended as part of a vibrant, high-performing life.
- Find ways to bring fun and enjoyment to your fitness training sessions.
- Challenge yourself in a variety of ways, particularly those you aren’t good at
- Activities typically combining specialized fitness and technical skills, performed in a competitive environment (even against self).
- Not essential, or necessary for general health improvement.
- Often seasonal in nature, requiring specialized technical and tactical coaching.
- A great motivational pursuit that provides a challenge to pursue, and a test of skills you’ve accumulated throughout the movement continuum.
About Tim Borys:
Tim believes that improved health, happiness and personal performance help us cultivate greatness in our lives and improve the world around us. As a former elite athlete, New York Yankees draft pick, and national level coach, Tim is an expert at eliciting higher performance from individuals and teams. For over 30 years he has helped people and organizations ignite their potential…in work and life. In 2020, he was recognized as one of Canada’s Top Trainers.
Tim is CEO of FRESH! Wellness Group, and author of five books, including “The Fitness Curveball” Series and “Your Work From Home Productivity Handbook”. He can be found @timborys @freshfitcalgary, or through his websites www.freshgroup.ca, www.freshfitness.ca, or www.timborys.com