We're not like other programs
Compared to other exercise programs, what we offer at South Loop Strength & Conditioning is extremely challenging. While we firmly believe in appropriate progression, correct movement, and safety (and we have the coaching staff to ensure that all of these things are in place), you will be asked to push yourself to a lot of uncomfortable places. You will be asked to lift more weight than you've lifted before. You will be asked to do more reps than you've done before. You will be asked to move faster than you've moved before. Not all of these things feel pleasant, although plenty of folks do thrive on the rush of new accomplishments.
So, as you can see, this program isn't for everyone. It's for people who are willing to take the next step to reach their fitness goals and are fed up with mediocrity. It's for people who are ready to invest time and energy into the process, and are willing to go outside of their comfort zone in order to get results.
Does this sound like the type of program you'd like to do?
You can go to the gym on your own. You can watch YouTube videos of correct technique and follow programs from magazines. But have you? What have your results been?
The reality of the fitness industry is that most people have no idea what they're missing. There's no framework for what kinds of results to expect, and there's no accountability in most programs since true progress is very rarely measured.
Similarly, most marketing is focused on atypical results and pandering to the lowest common denominator seeking a quick fix solution. There are endless tactics and gimmick diets, when the truth is that a program needs to get a few very key things right:
1. The challenge level needs to be modifiable to your current level of fitness
The obvious way to do this is to change the loading or the exercise selection, but the reality is that simply "scaling" workouts for different fitness levels doesn't produce the desired effect.
Folks looking to maximize potential in fitness have different needs than folks simply looking to look better, feel better, and move better.
Similarly, preserving the intended dose-response of a workout isn't as simple as changing a handstand push-up to a pike push-up or changing a 135# squat snatch to a 65# squat snatch. While these may be similar movements, the overall feel of the workout is the most important piece when modifying.
This is why we have three separate tiers of group programming (Fitness, Performance & Competition). Each of these tiers aligns with different goals, and most folks settle into their niche intuitively. It's not enough to "scale," and we try to offer correct paths for folks with different training ages, movement restrictions, and goals.
This is also where our exclusive coaching services come into play. In an ideal fitness world, everyone would have the time, the money, and the dedication to pursue individualized coaching and programming.
While we understand that the community and accountability of the group classes produce their impressive results, we also have individualized services available to those who want to make the additional investment in themselves and their fitness goals. These could be performance specific goals in CrossFit, team sports or racing, they could be body composition goals, or they could be goals to simply move better and get out of pain and discomfort.
2. The program needs to be based upon full body movements
While there is certainly a place for isolation exercises (delt raises, bicep curls, tricep extensions) in hypertrophy training (to get bigger muscles) and structural work (to even out weaknesses), the bulk of any solid training program needs to be based upon functional movements.
Now, "functional" is a word with many definitions within the fitness community, but we will stick with Greg Glassman's definition of "moving large loads long distances quickly."
Think squats, deadlifts, snatches, pull-ups, running, rowing, and kettlebell swings.
Movement lives in the nervous system, and functional movements are part of our innate human wiring. We are "built" to move in certain ways, and, when we move in these ways, we see results since we are feeding our fundamental nature.
Now, this isn't to say that there aren't all kinds of regular movement flaws. In our modern times, it's not as simple as dropping into the squat that we were all capable of as a toddler. Instead, we need to reawaken these hard-wired patterns and train them appropriately relative to our abilities.
This is why we have coaches to guide us.
This is also why we prioritize continuing education not just in strength & conditioning models, but also in movement correction models like DNS (Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization) and PRI (Postural Restoration Institute.)
3. The program needs to be fun and engaging
In the words of Dan John, the secret to success is: "Show up, don't quit, ask questions."
It doesn't matter if I write the perfect exercise program with exquisitely nuanced variation and progression if it just goes on the shelf and is never implemented.
It doesn't matter how many nutrition books you read, how many blogs you subscribe to, or how many Instagram photos you double tap if you get stuck in "research mode" and don't take action.
Almost any program will work if you follow it. The trick is to create the community, the environment, and the accountability that keeps you showing up for more.
This is why we track results on the whiteboard, have a blog with photos and articles, and have monthly community events and lectures. The more that you feel that you're part of something, the better your experience will be. We want to not only be the experts in information, but also the experts in community and accountability.
4. The program needs to have regular testing
The only way to know if you're getting better is to have tests. These can be body composition tests or performance tests. These can be hard numbers on a back squat or time on a 5k run, or they can be more subjective like before and after pictures or tracking your morning energy.
Different goals necessitate different tests, but some form of observable, repeatable and measurable testing is necessary to track progress and correct course.
Obviously, performance-minded athletes track their numbers and have a stat sheet in their head of where they're at and where they're going. Other folks may simply want to show up, work out and feel good.
We will implement testing phases in our programming to see how each cycle is going. We will redo movement screens to see if restrictions or stability issues are getting better or worse. We offer nutrition consulting to dial in those ever-so crucial habits related to food and sleep.
We test repeatedly not only to hold you accountable, but to hold ourselves accountable to get you results. If something isn't working, we want to know, and we want to tweak it until it is working.