OK, here’s what I do: I meet someone who wants to change their body, either functionally or aesthetically (actually most often it’s actually a complex, opaque amalgamation of the two). After determining where they are, physically-speaking, I decide how I can help them go where they want to go, and try to communicate that to them.
As such, I spend about half my time understanding where someone is currently--the industry term is “assessment”--and the other half thinking about what they can do to change (fit-biz term: “intervention”).
And then we get to work.
We talk, we laugh, we move, we cry, we sweat, we think, we make plans, and we abandon them. We shed the parts that don’t serve us, and we hone in on the stuff that works. Together we are actively creating change, as specific as possible to that person.
Over the years, it slowly dawned on me that perhaps the most challenging part of this process is a simple misconception: people don’t know where they’re starting from. In fact, most of the time they don’t care.
Sometimes, I’d even guess that they actively would like to ignore that starting point. It’s too scary to see themselves with that sort of accuracy/reality.
But this lack of clarity makes the process of Change feel--to them--completely disjointed and complex, because they don't have their bearings.
On top of that, it also fundamentally changes how I must interact with the person. Of course, to coach them I need to clearly see both sides of the "Change Equation" (assessment, intervention); but at the same time I must consider how much the person sees, or wants to see, of themselves.
Too much realness, too soon, can make us fold. 🤷
So how quickly and effectively they shift really comes down one question: Do they care enough to face up to what their body can do, right now?
Yikes--that looks so dramatic when I write it like that. I love me some good drama, but it’s not very useful for instigating action. Drama isn’t very practical.
Enter CARs. Controlled Articular Rotations. CARs are as practical as it gets in the fitness world.
One of the first things I learned about CARs was that it was, while being a way of “training” your joints, it effectively had a self-assessment system built right in. In fact, this was one of the main qualities that differentiates Functional Range Conditioning (FRC, the system from which CARs originate) from most other movement systems.
This changed everything for me (and my students).
Because if you can assess yourself well--truly know your starting point--your whole attitude toward Change as a possibility shifts.
It shifts to be more true, more effective, but simpler to conceptualize, too. If you really know where you are (point A), and you can clearly understand where you want to go (point B), to improve you just need to draw straighter and stronger lines from A toward B.
But the biggest benefit? Change shifts into being a journey that you control, not one that controls you.
These days, when I first work with that new someone, and we’re discussing how the exercises I just taught them--CARs--can change the whole game, I mention this assessment benefit.
I mention how, by going slow and controlled, right at the outskirts of their range of motion, they can deftly side-step painful areas and make sure that their CARs are safe. And in doing so they can effectively “see” what’s really going on in their body.
Almost no one believes me that first day about the power of CARs. But the ones who do--who go home and practice their CARs--come back with a familiar look: relief.
Because while going slow, avoiding their painful areas, they actually saw themselves. For many, this is a sobering moment, a harsh reminder of the realities of their body. But it's also inherently hopeful.
Because it’s a starting point.
Go find your gold,