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Old 01-23-2014, 03:09 PM   #1
Steinar Ţór Ólafsson
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Client without body awareness - What would you do?

Hello!

For the past few years I have been running so-called "Basic Courses" at my gym. I think in the States they are usually called "On-Ramps".

The concept at least is that we get a group around 10-12 people per coach and for 9 sessions we break up the most common movements in Crossfit where we talk them through progressions, going over safety issues and scaling options. The classes are usually me explaining and they moving broomsticks / very light equipment for about 30-40 minutes and then a short ~10min WOD in the end where we try to apply those skills in a workout.

For the first time ever I have a client now in his 3rd sessions that completely lacks all movement and body awareness. Getting him to stable his midline (keeping is core and back tight) he thinks he has to hold down his breath to get his abs tight that obviously wont work for longer then few seconds when you start to move around. Too give you a blink of what is going on.

I have given him some extra time. Brought in a coach to help me take care of the group to be able to give him better care but I am just not sure he has a full motor development.

What would you do in my situation?

Best regards,
Steinar
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Old 01-24-2014, 12:43 AM   #2
Jan Dahlberg
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Re: Client without body awareness - What would you do?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steinar Ţór Ólafsson View Post
Hello!

For the past few years I have been running so-called "Basic Courses" at my gym. I think in the States they are usually called "On-Ramps".

The concept at least is that we get a group around 10-12 people per coach and for 9 sessions we break up the most common movements in Crossfit where we talk them through progressions, going over safety issues and scaling options. The classes are usually me explaining and they moving broomsticks / very light equipment for about 30-40 minutes and then a short ~10min WOD in the end where we try to apply those skills in a workout.

For the first time ever I have a client now in his 3rd sessions that completely lacks all movement and body awareness. Getting him to stable his midline (keeping is core and back tight) he thinks he has to hold down his breath to get his abs tight that obviously wont work for longer then few seconds when you start to move around. Too give you a blink of what is going on.

I have given him some extra time. Brought in a coach to help me take care of the group to be able to give him better care but I am just not sure he has a full motor development.

What would you do in my situation?

Best regards,
Steinar
Now, I'm not a coach but a physical therapist so my advice might be worth something. I think it is a great idea that you brought in another coach to help the group so you can focus on him, so thumbs up to that!

What I would try and teach him first is how to breathe. Not kidding. How do you breathe with the diaphragm and not just the lungs? Because that is key to stabilizing the midline and the spine.
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Old 01-24-2014, 09:18 AM   #3
Steve Guzinski
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Re: Client without body awareness - What would you do?

I would work some core stability. I do speed work with kids and had one kid who had the same problem. I spent a whole month doing nothing but core work and stretching with him. All this translated into faster times and better movement overall letting us do more speed work oriented training now.
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Old 01-24-2014, 09:28 AM   #4
Jeff Enge
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Re: Client without body awareness - What would you do?

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Originally Posted by Steinar Ţór Ólafsson View Post
For the first time ever I have a client now in his 3rd sessions that completely lacks all movement and body awareness. Getting him to stable his midline (keeping is core and back tight) he thinks he has to hold down his breath to get his abs tight that obviously wont work for longer then few seconds when you start to move around. Too give you a blink of what is going on.
What do you mean by this? You really do actually have to take a breath and hold it in order to brace your core properly. Is he trying to suck his abs in to stabilize? That seems an easy fix. How else does he lack "body awareness?"
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Old 01-24-2014, 07:47 PM   #5
John Lupoli
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Re: Client without body awareness - What would you do?

Perhaps use the Coach's eye app or just your smart phone for video so you can show him his posture and movement. Often times I have found athletes just need to see what they are doing and the correction is almost immediate. hope this helps...
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Old 01-25-2014, 07:28 AM   #6
Brendan McNamar
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Re: Client without body awareness - What would you do?

Two thoughts.

1) Try using video. If he is a super visual learner this will speed up the process.

2) Teach basics like hollow body, arch, plank and so on from gymnastic. Static hold are easier then dynamic moves to understand what muscles are being used how.
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Old 01-25-2014, 06:13 PM   #7
David Osorio
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Re: Client without body awareness - What would you do?

Steinar,

It's possible that this client may not be (or currently be) appropriate for group classes given their lack of body awareness. It's par for the course to have a lot of rough movers walking into your gym, and ultimately it's our job to get people moving safely before entering the group class. For many the process of learning even simple movements can take a long time, but as long as that person understands their limitations and can be safe given the semi-autonomous nature of group classes, they're good to go. Every now and again you might come across someone who simply needs more individual instruction OR is perhaps not appropriate for your group classes. This isn't an indictment on them, you, CrossFit or anything else, it's simply the reality of the situation and something you as a professional need to make a decision about.

I would talk to the person and address your concerns in a professional way where the intent is about their safety and training longevity. Discuss specifically what you're seeing in their movement, why it's an issue in a group class format and determine some options for them that you feel comfortable with. It's possible that they might really need private training and it's beyond their budget. You never want to turn people away, but if you honestly think they're eventually going to hurt themselves given the extenuating circumstances regarding their movement, you've got to protect them and yourself and potentially make a tough decision.

This has happened to us a few times over the years and usually the people know they're struggling and appreciate that our primary concern is their saftey. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesnt.

I wrote an article about exactly this on Inside the Affiliate called "Screening Policies for New and Transfer Athletes" (WFS)

Good luck
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Old 01-28-2014, 03:31 PM   #8
Josh Groves
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Re: Client without body awareness - What would you do?

When you have someone that is very uncoordinated and the movements just aren't sticking, you probably will need to discuss it with the client as David mentions.

My guess is that you'll want to spend some individualized time with the athlete and that they're probably going to need to start with some basic proprioceptive movement and just get them learning to control their body in space. Get them good at basic gymnastic skills before expanding into trying to control external objects. It's possible that they may also have a learning disability and need different cues or methods of instruction.

Ultimately, it can be a challenge, but if you and the athlete are willing, it can also be one of the best opportunities for you and your coaches to grow and learn.
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Old 01-29-2014, 11:44 AM   #9
Jesse Gray
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Re: Client without body awareness - What would you do?

I've dealt with a few athletes like this over the years. Really, it's no different than any other client, you assess them (which you've already done) and then scale down to their level. For a person with extreme motor control issues this can mean scaling to a level you're not used to.
The key here, is not to overthink things. If you have your client doing a WOD with a band around his knees, holding a post for stability, squatting to a box with another band around his waist anchored to the base of your pull up rig (to activate his glutes obviously!) you've gone off the deep end. At this point your client is scared, confused and frustrated and feeling like an outsider among the other athletes in the gym.
Keep movements as simple as possible. When your client masters these very basic movements (and he/she will), increase the load/complexity/ROM/etc.
It sounds like your client can't squat, can they sit down in a chair and then stand back up withput using their hands? Start with that, eventually move to a lower chair.
For almost every movement there are many ways to reduce complexity. Lower your expectations and set simple, reasonable goals. Progress may be slow but with small, easy to obtain goals your client will make progress and before you know it he will be moving better and feel more confident.
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Old 01-29-2014, 06:39 PM   #10
Steven Wingo
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Re: Client without body awareness - What would you do?

Through a previous thread I learned about "Foundation Training," which in my view is basic rehabilitative stuff for developing your core and postural awareness. I bought the book, read it, and followed the program for a month or so while recovering from surgery. The book is only about $20 and is a fairly quick read. You really don't even need to read the whole thing just go through their descriptions and the different exercises for basic core strengthening and awareness.

Here is a link:

http://foundationtraining.com/store

(The link is work and family safe. And I don't have any relationship with the authors or publishers.)
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