“The reason I exercise is for the quality of life I enjoy”
(Kenneth H. Cooper)
On August 20, 2015, I met with James FitzGerald, founder of OPEX Fitness, to get a professional assessment of my physical fitness. I subsequently wrote a post calling him “The Body Whisperer” because he seemed to know my body better than I knew it myself.
Over the course of a few hours, James conducted an in-depth interview, assessed basic movements (like squats, planks, and lunges), and then measured my body using various techniques (including caliper measurements from seven fat-storing zones).
James discovered the gluteal (butt) muscles on my left side were not working. He said they were “sleepy” and needed to be reactivated. During the assessment, he showed me the physical manifestation of the problem. Because my left “ass” is sleepy, the rest of my body has been compensating:
- Right shoulder is pulling so it’s lower than the left
- Right arm hangs closer to body than left arm
- There are lines below right shoulder blade, indicating body is straining to the right
- Right foot is turned out (he said I have “very active” feet)
- Unbalanced body fat (two of the seven measurements were twice as fat as the rest)
He said my body is out of alignment, which will ultimately cause injuries and setbacks.
James calls his recommendations “prescriptions.” Here were mine:
- Wake up my left ass with physical therapy and targeted exercises
- Reduce my middle body fat with nutrition – add morning protein to my diet and increase water intake slowly until 90 ounces per day
- Build “balanced strength” with a creative exercise program: single arm and single leg focus on strength work, core work without upper work or lower work, focus on movement
On September 10, I met another Whisperer. My physical therapist, Shadia Natour from Saylor Physical Therapy, took a particular interest in my booty. After 45 minutes of pain and agony, I dubbed her the Booty Whisperer. If there was anyone who could wake up my left ass, I was certain she was the one. Shadia coordinated with my OPEX Coach to create a personalized exercise program for me. It contained nearly 30 different exercises specifically designed to reactivate my left ass and strengthen my body from head to toe in a balanced way.
I saw the Booty Whisperer again on October 13. My exercise program had been going very well. I actually felt different, more balanced between my left and right sides, and much stronger with each exercise. Her assessment confirmed my feelings. I received a great 5-week progress report. She consulted with my OPEX Coach to add some more challenging exercises to my program.
I have been on my “meat and nuts before coffee” morning routine every day since I first met with James on August 20. I am working on increasing my water intake, although I remain far short of the recommended 90 ounces per day.
My total body fat measurements have improved – down 3 ½ inches or 5.7%. My chest measurement is down the most. Although my abdomen and suprailiac (love handles) dropped slightly, they remain out of balance with the other measurements. The Body Whisperer tells me this is related to chronic stress: Are Bad Inputs Making You Sick & Tired.
Videos: Before & After
In less than four months of following the Body Whisperer’s exercise prescriptions, I have made huge strides in reactivating my sleepy left ass.
In this video, my pre squat depth was poor. You can see how I lean right (protecting my sleepy left ass) and how my legs shake. My post squat depth is improved, my body is more centered, and my legs shake much less. My left ass is starting to pull its own weight!
The Body Whisperer said, although I am still leaning forward a bit too much, my glutes are starting to “know how to work better during the squat pattern.” Take a look at the pre and post videos to see if you agree.
Each assessment brings an opportunity to advance my exercise regime based on my body’s capacity. These are the exercises added after my 16-week assessment:
- One-Arm Half Kneeling Dumb Bell Overhead Press replaced my overhead military press and triceps work. The Body Whisperer says to, “keep abs engaged and core at work” so I won’t overextend my lower back.
- We added Pull Ups with Supinated Grip. My focus with this exercise is to fully extend my arms at the bottom, do as many reps as possible per set, count two seconds going up, one second pause with arms fully flexed at top, and then four seconds to lower. If I am not able to control the lowering, the set is terminated. These 7-second Pull Ups are brutal!
- And, my new favorite, the Turkish Get-Up is a great full-body exercise.
After barely four months, I am already feeling stronger, more balanced, and confident that my fitness goals are in alignment with my life goals. If I keep this up, I’ll be hiking trails, paddle boarding and still lifting my wife’s suitcase when I’m 90.
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