Movement Integrity and Why It Matters

Movement Integrity and Why It Matters

Movement Integrity and Why It Matters

I’ve missed a chance working with a person because I wasn’t willing to put them through the latest gut-wrenching, head-exploding, high intensity workout that they’ve seen on TV or in magazines. I’ve lost clients because at the end of their session they were not spitting their pancreas out on the gym floor.

Everyone wants to do the most advanced training from the get go. It’s sometimes hard and confusing for you not in the fitness industry to understand that there’s steps that you have to take. You have to earn the right to do something more advanced. It’s like me going to a medical school and asking to do a surgery on the first day. Because it looked cool on Grey’s Anatomy or ER.

But you not being aware of this is not your fault.  Let me explain…



There is still the overwhelming conception that to get anything out of a trainer or training is to go as hard as you can for as long as you can. Ideally from the get go. We live in the world of “more is more, if five high intensity intervals are good for me then 20 must make me a superhuman.” No, it will make you worse, unless you’ve earned the right to be there.

And we trainers are the ones who should take the blame for this. Some of us are afraid of slowing things down for you, the client. For we fear that you’ll leave us in favor of seeing someone else who will run you into the ground. As long as we are afraid of standing our ground and educating you for what we think is right (quality, movement, progress, sustainability, independence) we will keep reinforcing this cycle of doom.

Then there’s a certain tv show (I won’t mention the name, but it rhymes with The Slickest Bruiser) feeding into what general public thinks personal trainers and coaches are like: tank top wearing, flexing, screaming, abusing drill sergeants. Give me break.

I am not above of knowing when the fault is mine too. And I’ll take the blame for some of this confusion since my message of what I do is not coming across clear enough. This blog post is the first step trying to reverse that.



Let’s clear why I do a movement screen and assessment with each new client instead of just throwing you into the mix of a semi-private or one-on-one session.

I sat at two lectures by Gray Cook at the recent Perform Better Summit in Long Beach. His Friday talk was aptly named, because of the state of the world that we live in, “To Hack or Not To Hack”. And he simplified the reason for movement screening and individualized programming better than I ever could:

“Doing someone else’s workout will get you behind. – Gray Cook

I like to use the Functional Movement Systems tagline “First move well, then move often.” But sadly, we live in a world were getting exhausted and excessively sore equals a successful training session.



You have to earn the right to do advanced workouts. Just like with other things in life, not all the hacks available are beneficial. You skip enough steps and they will come and bite you in the ass later on.

If you skip learning how to hinge and squat with bodyweight first, you haven’t earned the right to touch a weight. As harsh as it sounds. But as with anything in life, we are drawn to the cool stuff instead of learning how to do the basics first. Hey, I’ve been there too, and it has gotten me injured. That’s why I preach movement integrity. All that being said, there’s a skill of making basic and simple training exciting and cool.

You wouldn’t trust a pilot who skipped the landing training so they could get to the cockpit of a major airliner sooner. Why would you trust a body that hasn’t learned the skills of quality movement.

When you hire a trainer make it clear that you want to achieve your goals while adhering to movement integrity and safety first. Slow and steady might not sound exciting, but over the long-term you will breeze by the folk who ran themselves to ground early on. And trust me, learning the basics is a challenge in itself.



The only goal of any training program should be to make you better at other tasks at life. It should improve how you move outside of the gym. Don’t make the fitness your end goal. Again, Gray Cook said it better than I could:

“The goal is to work towards balance, independence and sustainability. Most fitness programs target quantity over quality, progress over protection, opinions over expertise and evidence, unsustainable over sustainable, dependent over independent.” – Gray Cook

I’ll leave you with this: You are not a fragile snowflake. There’s a place for hard and tough training. But you need to be able to do it with movement integrity. Ask yourself: Do I look graceful doing this? If not, take a step back before taking two leaps forward. All while keeping the eye on the goal of getting better, not just to get tired.

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