As ardent fit-fanatics, we’re all familiar with the delights of rehab – having to routinely perform repetitive and seemingly redundant prescribed exercises, ice ice ice, elevate, and having to admit defeat and succumb to the dreaded rest right in the middle of a training cycle, all because we ignored a niggle or let our hamstrings get just that little bit too tight.
It’s frustrating, it’s boring, and worst of all, it sets us back in our relentless pursuit of attaining our goals.
Exercising hard week after week can exacerbate underlying imbalances that you may not even know you have, which can lead to injury – but it is possible, and indeed necessary, to detect and correct any such weak and wonky areas before beginning a new programme in order to prevent having to partake in that ghastly rehab, and losing our progress along with it.
With the rising focus on wellness as a holistic concept which requires all areas of health and wellbeing to be balanced and in optimal working order, we are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of rest, a satisfied and energised mind, emotional wellbeing, hormonal alignment and functional posture as integral elements in our regime. Thankfully, the short lived ‘go hard or go home’ culture that saw many well-intentioned exercisers reach mental and physical burnout as they strove to abide by the inexorable imperatives of ‘fitspo’ memes has ironically burnt itself out, and the necessity for balancing hard work with hard rest is becoming prevalent. With this change in attitude, a new dimension to training is developing which allows us to go into exercise optimally prepared so we can get the absolute best from our gym time – enter, prehab.
Studios focussing on prehabilitation programmes have sprung up across London and we’ve visited the best to bring you a run down on how to ensure you’re good to go before you embark on your next fitness journey, because we all know prevention is better than cure.
Grace Belgravia offers a comprehensive one on one consultation with each of its members to assess the state of their current body mechanics before they embark on their fitness journeys. Duncan Vincent, the manager of the gym at Grace, along with his team of human movement experts will film you walking and running and have you perform basic movements, such as overhead squats, then play back on time lapse to asses how your body is working and determine any areas of tightness and tension that could cause issues down the line. If you think you’re problem-free you’ll likely be sorely mistaken; Duncan’s canny eye will seek out even the tiniest of potential issues, right down to a foot swinging at a slightly overly obtuse angle while you walk.
After your gym consultation, head down the hall (ensuring your foot-swing is on point as you go…) to visit muscle-whisperer Anna Collins (http://www.thepolishedonion.com) to free up your fascia with a Rolfing session. Don’t be deterred by the questionable moniker; Rolfing is a technique named after its creator Dr. Ida Rolf which builds on the concept of structural integration. The practice manipulates your muscle fascia to promote space within the body to allow for optimal mobility and freedom from pain. Rolfing therapy is a perfect antidote to our busy modern lives as it alleviates pain and tightness caused by repetitive exercise, sedentary lifestyles, and the infamous Smartphone hunch!
At the beginning of each hour long session, Anna will photograph your body from every angle and compare these with after photos once you’ve been thoroughly worked on. Prepare for quite significant changes in posture and alignment which will become increasingly more pronounced if you decide to go for the full 10 session programme.
Putting yourself in the hands of a person who intuitively knows your body better than you do is initially slightly disconcerting, perhaps mostly due to the fact that you’re required to be in a relative state of undress, but Anna will talk you through how the session will go and make you feel completely relaxed and at ease while she works on your kinks and knots. The Rolfing practice not only releases physical tension in your body but also instigates the relief of emotional and mental stresses as well as aiding in digestion by freeing up space internally to allow your organs to function as they should. All this leaves you standing taller, feeling more mobile, and ready to tackle those sweat sessions with renewed vigour!
If lifting and functional exercise is more your jam, Fulham’s specialist gym Motus Strength is the prehab way for you. Defined by its dedication to one-on-one and small group sessions, the gym’s team of experts will provide guided foundation to advanced programmes for Olympic Lifting, Calisthenics and Strength and Conditioning practice, making sure your form is correct for every move and that the right muscles are firing at the right times. So not only will your workout be more efficient and functional, enabling you to smash those PBs, but you’ll be using each muscle for its intended purpose – meaning that coveted peachy firm derrière can be sculpted with ease!
Motus Strength’s founder, Bruce, doesn’t believe in firing out high numbers of reps for the sake of working up a sweat if your form is not perfect, and rightly so, as we all know this is how things end up torn and broken, and none of us has time for that. The Motus way is all about precision. If an imbalance or weakness exists, the Motus approach will not allow you to move on in your programme until the previous phase has been sufficiently completed, ie. You will need to be able to demo your squatting prowess before progressing to the jerks, muscle ups, et al.! But don’t scoff at the basics – every structure needs a solid foundation on which to grow with strength, and the same goes for our bodies. And there really is nothing easy about L-sits. Those things are deceptive.
If you’re more a darling of the digital age and enjoy the freedom of online training, head to Dylan Jones and his all-encompassing, mastermind app, P4 Virtual Trainer. Dylan’s approach is based upon the four pillars of optimal fitness, which he calls the 4 Ps – posture, performance, programme and physiology, each of which must be operating to perfection before enduring progress can me made.
The P4 programme is undertaken remotely, but unlike ubiquitous apps which churn out unspecific exercises and duplicate food plans, P4 gives you a bespoke, long term regime based on your individual history and goals which begins with the basics and advances on a progressive and adaptable basis.
When you sign up, Dylan and his team will carry out a full body scan to determine your body fat percentage and identify any postural imbalances and areas of potential weakness. The results are emailed to you along with detailed explanations of the findings so you’re able to be fully proactive and understanding in taking control of your own body in line with the guidance of Dylan, and his nutrition guru wife, Linda’s expertise. This, coupled with phone calls to the trainers themselves, online goal and diet tracking and support from the online P4 community, will form the basis of your P4 programme and see you on your way to complete bodily harmony.
Box fresh from its native origins in Canada, Essentrics has landed in our very own London. Discovered in North America and taken to the Netherlands by Master Trainer, Lululemon Ambassador and all-round babe, Danielle de Wildt. The dynamic workout is a hybrid of ballet, tai-chi and dance and works to lengthen muscles and reconnect the brain with every area of the body, essentially waking up neglected areas to promote efficiency, mobility and strength. Danielle happened upon the concept being used by Canadian rugby players as part of their training and credits it with curing her ‘computer hunch’ and helping her qualify for Boston with her first and very speedy marathon last year, when Essentrics formed an important part of her cross-training programme.
Performed bare foot and to chart tunes to make your soul happy, Essentrics is a refreshingly different, yet challenging routine and a short course is an excellent form of base training. If you’re a runner, lifter, or hard core HIIT-er, you need Essentrics in your life. Find the very first of London’s classes in Chiswick and Greenwich, or sign up for a Champney’s or Ibiza retreat as a pre-training foundation to ‘unlock’ your body and mind and leave you tip top and ready to smash your fitness goals.
The above are all excellent, guided ways to ensure you have your prehab sussed, but there are of course many methods of pre-habilitation you can do at home to ensure you’re ready to train: Make sure you’re stretching, foam-rolling, Epsom-bathing and sleeping like a pro throughout your training schedule so you continue to perform optimally and get the most from your wonderful body.
By Rachel Bednarski