Have You Made the Simple Perspective Shift That’s Helping Trainers Get Better Client Results While Spending Less Time on Programming?

The human body was meant to move.

From the study of motor learning, we know that with complex movement similar to what we do every day in life (walking, climbing stairs, lifting things from the floor, carrying or moving items, etc.), the body accomplishes it through “motor engrams” or “chunks” of movement. These are often referred to as “Movement Patterns.”

Yet, when we look at most fitness exercises and programs, they are designed based on individual muscles.

If you’ve ever written a split program broken down by body part (i.e. chest/triceps/, Legs/shoulders, Back/biceps, Abs, etc.) you’ve succumbed to the muscle myth. Don’t worry, we’ve all done it at some point.

They key providing a more effective training experience for you clients is to teach movement first and design programs based on movement patterns.

This is actually quite simple, but it requires thinking about fitness in a different way that you were likely taught in your certifications.

You see, the modern health club industry evolved from bodybuilding in the 1950’s and ‘60’s. It was based primarily on aesthetics and isolated muscle training.

In the 10-15 years, we’ve seen a massive shift to what most people would call “functional” training (more about that distinction and what it actually means in the next article). Examples of this functional style of training include:

  • Crossfit
  • Body weight and HIIT circuits
  • Sport/Athlete training
  • OCR style programs
  • Kettlebells/TRX/BOSU/VIPR/and many other tools


This transition has been fantastic in a number of ways…particularly if you are a physiotherapist!
However, one key component has been missing from this transition.

Trainers (and clients) are rarely being taught to MOVE properly.

Instead, exercise intensity and volume are winning over quality of movement. Too many people are stuck on finding the “best exercises” for their goals, whether that is fat loss, muscle building, or “toning” a specific body part.

Many of you reading this will say “Of course, I train functionally and I’m VERY strict on technique with my clients”. That’s great, but there is a distinct difference between teaching correct technique on an exercise, and teaching a client how to properly perform a foundational movement pattern.

Skillfully performing a foundational movement pattern transfers to a wide range of exercises whereas the opposite is not necessarily true.

As a coach, I believe our goal should be to drive home the fundamental cues, technique, and skills necessary to perform movements at the base level. This sets clients up for success in virtually any fitness or sport situation we can put them in.

In order to do this, we need to have a detailed understanding of how the body works together as an integrated unit as well as in it’s component parts. This includes the mechanics of:

  • Breathing
  • Bracing
  • Dynamic movement
  • Muscle compensation strategies
  • Neural activation and potentiation
  • Joint integrity, mobility, and range of motion
  • Inertia, momentum, force application
  • And much more about the anatomy, physiology, biomechanics of human movement.


While this isn’t as complicated or tough as it seems, very few professionals take the time to learn these areas.

A university degree will help you understand the deep science, courses like FMS will help you assess movement within a standardized framework, others will teach you the mechanics of specific lifts in great detail, but virtually none will help you tie it all together.

I’m a firm believer that understanding the science is important, but that it’s even more important to be able to explain and demonstrate that science to your clients in a way that is simple, easy to comprehend, and extremely relevant to improving their life.

That’s why I’ve decided to write a few more posts addressing and diving into some of the issues I feel are most important for fitness professionals and the public to understand.

Yours in Health, Happiness, and Performance,

Tim Borys
Author, Speaker, Coach, CEO
FRESH! Wellness Group

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