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Redefining Strength, with Dar

Last week we touched on an a NY Times article about the Stanford Football Team’s so-called ‘different’ strength training, and the theories behind it that overlap so closely with our own.  I asked our corporate team, and some of our trainers, to reflect a little more deeply into what resonated with them, how their experience and beliefs overlap, and more specifically, how their own journeys have gotten them to this point.

We’re kicking it off this week with Dar, Owner/Operating Partner for MADabolic Cville, and soon to open MADabolic Charleston.  Her story is one of a kind, as is she, so here it is:

‘When I started reading the article, it only took me a few seconds to realize that I was going to like what Turley and his methods are about.  What surprised me is how much I appreciated reading from the standpoint of what his methods are not about.   The focus is not on just strength and football skills; the focus is movement.   It’s not how much weight you can move; it’s how you move it.  It’s not about how you perform in the weight room; it’s about how you utilize the principles to perfect your skill/sport.

The program emphasizes mobility and stability utilizing correct bodyweight movements, first with the baseline being set for every athlete utilizing the FMS ( Functional Movement Screen). It creates a ranking or baseline that documents movement patterns key to normal function.  The screen identifies limitations and asymmetries – it sets the starting line. These issues are resolved through corrective exercise and restore sound movement.  Translated in normal terms for the Stanford team – it will help reduce injury and loss of time on the field.  For the rest of us, the everyday athletes,it means the exact same thing.  Where performance or fitness is the goal, it’s all about sound movement. There is no room for injuries.

Dar: MADabolic

photo credit: lululemon charlottesville

Once you know what needs work you can work on it through different methods; mobility work, stretching, Yoga, Pilates, Deep Tissue work and even Chiropractic.  We don’t live in a one-size fits all world – and fitness is no different.   Our bodies are all different, so are our goals, and what they both require from us to function will be different as well.

Over the past  year I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on understanding and appreciating the importance of stretching and mobility.  I typically don’t train until I’ve done some sort of dynamic warm-up, or foam rolling, and after training I like to follow it up with stretching and band work. I like to top all this off with professional deep tissue work and regular chiropractic visits.  My new year’s resolution is a weekly athletic stretch class at Tru Pilates in Cville and I’m already seeing it translate in my mechanics. My main goal is to be a strong and conditioned athlete.  And, yes, I do MADabolic 4 days a week, but I still find myself spending an equal amount of time focusing on specific skills that I want to develop.  More than being ‘strong,’ I want to be a better moving athlete.

When I’m working with a client, the most important thing for me is to know how they move when they are unloaded (with his/her bodyweight only). In a perfect world I would love to do an FMS on everyone that walks through our doors, to first identify the movements that are their weakest so that we don’t load or overload a poor movement pattern — but it’s not realistic. That’s where good, attentive, coaching and scaling workouts becomes so important.  Providing technical coaching and watching movement patterns to make sure a client understands the functional concepts is critical.

I haven’t always had the same beliefs that I have now – they have evolved.   I have a pretty diverse background, and every experience has contributed to how I now train and coach.  Initially, I weight trained to strictly develop muscle and strength.  This lead to a short-lived bodybuilding stint in the 80’s, followed by quite a few years competing in powerlifting competitions (read: Bench Press, Squat and Deadlift).  It was around that time that I realized I needed to do more for cardiovascular health – or at least that’s what I thought.  I became a spin instructor and taught for 5 years.  I always toyed with the idea of leaving my corporate career for a career in fitness, but it wasn’t until I attended my 5 day on-site Personal Training Certification at the Cooper Clinic that I realized fitness was more than just a passion for me.  This lead me to several certifications over the last 5 years: Olympic Lifting, Kettlebells, Functional Movement Level 1 and 2, CrossFit and now, what I’m most proud of, the StrongFirst Instructor Level 1 Certification in Kettlebells. What this all translates into is that I didn’t wake up one day and decide to ‘be a fitness professional.’ It was a process, and over time, through education and application, my career grew out of my passion and I developed into the coach and athlete I am now.

Dar: MADabolic

photo credit: lululemon charlottesville

I train differently now than I ever have –my training is smarter, and more complete — and I’m in the best shape of my life at 48.  I used to be that person who spent 2 hours in the “gym,” rarely seeing significant results. I lifted weights and then spent 30 minutes on a treadmill.  I’m not knocking anyone who did (or still does) that – it’s just not for me.   I want to sweat and feel challenged in a full body workout.  I want my heart rate to be rocked and my strength challenged.  I want to move in a way that my body was designed to move — utilizing ballistic movements (quick and explosive), functional movements, and (durable and strong) strength and conditioning. And I want to see results. Whether I’m training at MADabolic, or doing my own programming, I’m utilizing the same principals.  You may still find me benching once in a while, because strength with proper movement is a beautiful thing.

I love (and find amusing) that this Elite Level, Division 1 program does not incorporate just sport specific training – and their sport performance has improved.  The program looks to several different principles and training methodologies to develop elite level athletes, and they do so successfully.  It has to make you wonder why is it that everyday people think they need to train sport specifically? We don’t, and that’s why what we do at MADabolic makes sense.  We utilize functional movements, in a variety of ways to achieve results efficiently.  And it works.’
-Dar Malecki, Owner/Operating Partner for MADabolic Charlottesville and MADabolic Charleston (Opening Soon!)


One Response to “Redefining Strength, with Dar”

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