Category: Exercise

30 Minute Magic

“I wasted time, and now doth time waste me…” – William Shakespeare

Of the many health and wellness misconceptions that plague the general public, the most insidious is the notion that to be in great shape requires a time investment approaching that of top athletes. And, being the all-or-nothing culture that we are, that misconception easily translates into an excuse to do nothing at all.

So let’s dispel that time requirement myth, once and for all. And remove any remaining excuse you have not to get in great shape.

Now, to be fair, most people I speak with do have a pretty accurate notion for the time investment required to perform at the top level of any sport. For instance, few would be surprised over the details of a day-in-the-life of Michael Phelps, depicted below:

Note: for the full infographic, depicting the example daily schedules of many Olympic athletes, see this. The overall time commitment required of these athletes is mind-boggling.

And yes, reaching and maintaining athletic mastery requires an unworldly devotion and dedication to task.

So where, you might ask, does this leave your average Joe or Jane? Those juggling jobs, kids, family and, well… life? If we were able to manage to eek-out a bit of time during the week for exercise, is that effort all in vain? Would that time be better spent binge-watching old Seinfeld episodes?

Well, the short answer is, absolutely not. And the more expounded answer is that even the smallest time investment can pay huge dividends. The caveat here being that most are just squandering that time. It’s all no doubt well intentioned… though, at best, misguided and misinformed. And it’s painful to witness.

Let’s do this right

The first thing we need to consider when examining the daily schedules of top-end athletes is that a preponderance of their training time is spent in what is known as skills acquisition. That is, the laborious, repeated (and time consuming!) act of practicing those skills pertinent to their particular sport — over and over and over again. Baseball is a fine example: the batting and fielding practice never ends. The tennis player honing her serve and volley. The golfer’s putt after putt after putt.

Now, to the extent that the body is in motion, there is a degree of low-level physical exertion present. And that’s a good thing… for those who choose to devote time toward such ends. But is that activity necessary to be healthy? Or even to look good naked? The good news is that it’s not. In fact, there’s much more effective, low hanging fruit to pursue.

That “low hanging fruit” forms the bedrock of every top-end athlete’s training regimen: his strength and conditioning program. And if we think of that program in total as being a pyramid, the base of that pyramid would be basic strength, ease and range of movement, and work capacity. The very things we prioritize at Efficient Exercise. And when compared to the time investment that skills acquisition requires, that portion of an athlete’s overall program is minimal. Unless, of course, the sport in question is strength and conditioning, (think CrossFit).

So now we’ve reduced this time requirement beast into something much more manageable. But we’re not done yet. By intelligently targeting those aspects of strength, movement and work capacity that offer the biggest bang for the time investment buck, we can fashion a commitment to health, wellness (and looking good naked!) that even the most time-crunched professional or soccer mom can adhere to.

The Great Equalizer: Time

At Efficient Exercise, we recognize that there are many strength and conditioning programs that are highly effective at achieving results in those “base of the pyramid” qualities described above. But from our perspective, the major drawback to those programs is, again, the required time investment.

For example, during my collegiate football days, it was perfectly normal for me to spend up to two hours a day, in the off season, just on the strength and conditioning portion of my training. Was it effective? Extremely. A huge investment, both in time and physical recovery ability? Absolutely. But at that point in my life, the time investment (both in actual training, and in recovery modalities) was a non sequitur. My job was to be a student-athlete.

I laugh at devoting that much time to training now. And although mentally and emotionally I’d love to spend that much time in the gym, with my hectic schedule, it’s simply not possible.

And let me be clear: there was no wasted effort in that two hours a day of training. I was lucky enough to come under the tutelage of one of the finest strength and conditioning minds of that time. The programming was highly efficient, effective and directed. And therein lay another thread of the fitness tapestry that we need to define in order to create effective programs for our Efficient Exercise clientele: the idea of diminishing return on effort.

The Winning Combination: Technology + Expertise

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

The greatest advancement in any endeavor comes in the transition from doing nothing, to doing something. With everything after that being a balance between effort and return on effort, vis-a-vis one’s goal. The key is to strike a healthy balance between the two. And at Efficient Exercise we’ve done just that by combining ARX’s 21st century technology with the finest in training protocols and expertise.

So in the case of my former football jock self, I was more than willing to trade an inordinate amount of time and effort investment for the smallest of incremental returns. In fact, I had to, if I wanted to compete with more naturally gifted athletes. My goals at that time were well beyond the purview of health and fitness, and were directed to competition at the highest level. And at that level of competition, incremental differences in strength, speed and mobility are everything.

But now the same “me” can stay in great shape with a fraction of the time investment. And so can you. How is that possible? Because at Efficient Exercise, we put into practice the theory of the 80/20 rule — The Pareto Principle — which posits that 80% of an effect comes from 20% of the causes / effort. The flipside of this is also true: that to reap that extra 20% requires an additional 80% time and effort investment. An investment I was happy to make in my late teens and early 20s. Not an investment, however, that I’d even consider now.

And neither should you. Unless you plan on competing at the highest levels, and where that extra 20% will make a substantial difference. Olympic gold not on your bucket list? Cool. Then our innovative, twice weekly, 30 minute sessions will be more than enough to get you beyond 80% of your fitness and body composition goals.

In later installments we’ll discuss what you should do (if anything) in addition to your Efficient Exercise workouts. Because we’re certainly not opposed to extra physical activity, we just want to make sure you’re assessing that activity — and the motives toward pursuing that activity — correctly.

In Health,
Keith

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Reflections

As I sit down to write the inaugural blog post of our newly launched web site, I reflect on years past. It was February 2001 when I first started Efficient Exercise in a small studio on Far West Boulevard in Austin. As I think back about that time period, the overwhelming feeling of gratitude hits me. We have been operating in Austin for 16 years now and many wonderful relationships have been formed. I want to send out a thank you to all of the early clients that supported us back in those first years on Far West. There were many great memories and a lot of entrepreneurial lessons learned the hard way to say the least.

Our first studio on Far West, circa 2001

As we move into a new season, I am more than pleased when I reflect on where Efficient Exercise is today. Some of the old guard so to say has moved onto new horizons including Skyler Tanner, Keith Norris, and myself. We gladly welcome the new guard as they are the leaders of Efficient Exercise today and represent us well as we grow into a bright future.

As a founder with a vision to provide a personal, more viable option to the traditional gym, I think we have accomplished this mission. As a matter of fact, when I look around Austin, or even more specifically just taking a stroll up north on Burnet Road from where we sit at 45th Street and Burnet Road, I see many alternative options to the big box traditional gym and that pleases me. I think it speaks volumes to the quality of service we provide at EE knowing the fact we have thrived for this long.

The foundational principles of Efficient Exercise are still in place, and key evolutions to our business are also fundamental to the services we provide today and into the future.

We still believe in our original foundational pillars that every workout should be safe, effective, and efficient. Similar to the medical oath, first do no harm, we aim to never hurt our clients with our exercise prescriptions. If the workout is not effective, then clients will not achieve their desired results. And of course, efficiency is the name of our game (and business). We want to keep workouts to 30 minutes because we know that our clients value their time, and working out enables them to live a healthier, more vibrant life. The gym scene is not our vibe, and we serve clients that prefer to live their life outside of the gym, getting the most bang for their exercise buck at EE. The fundamental changes in our service over the years include implementing ARX technology and making mobility and corrective exercises part of our programs.

ARX – adaptive resistance exercise, is a computer-controlled, motorized resistance training technology that advances the human body while tracking progress in the software system. We believe that proper resistance training is the foundation to our exercise prescription and ARX allows us to provide that stimulus in a more effective, safe, and efficient manner than ever before.
Strength is the base of good health and performance. Whether you are an elite athlete or a grandmother that wants to keep up with her grandchildren, we can provide you strength to live a healthier and more vibrant life. However, strength should be aligned with proper biomechanics, moving effectively in your daily life, and ensuring that your body is mobile and injury free whatever your goals may be. We assess your movement and mobility and supplement ARX-based resistance training programs with corrective exercises and mobility movements that will allow for pain-free living.
We sincerely thank everyone that has supported us over these 16 years and we gladly welcome new faces to the Efficient Exercise family. I hope to see you around EE in the many years to come.

Yours in Health,
Mark Alexander
Founder – Efficient Exercise

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