BBJ Corner: Taking it one step at a time

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GOLD'S Gym personal trainer Jerry Diaz usually inquires about his client’s fitness goals first. Then he draws up a plan to help his client achieve them.

“As a certified personal trainer of the National Academy of Sports Medicine, I must also continue to advance my understanding of the fitness industry so I can help match my clients’ goals,” said Diaz who is currently taking an EXOS performance training certification course. “I’ve learned that the most ethical and purposeful approach is to go through a four-stage process:  acquisition, fluency, maintenance and generalization.” 

During the acquisition stage, an individual learns a new skill such as kettlebell swings, barbell deadlifts, or a proper pullup. “At this stage clients and athletes are learning about perfecting their movements while studying the purpose of each exercise and their benefits. For his part, a trainer must also observe a person’s posture development.” It is important to be patient during this stage, which will take about four to eight weeks before you can move to the next level.

In the fluency stage, an individual will begin to perform with greater speed and quicker response time without worrying about incorrect posture or movement. The individual already understands the purpose of each movement. He or she will learn other exercises such as rope climbing, muscle up, stability ball pushups, and barbell bench presses while continuing to master previously learned exercise techniques. “This stage, depending on the individual’s consistency, may take around another three to six weeks,” Diaz said.


Jerry Diaz and his fellow Taotao Bud Team members pose for a photo after completing Saipan's Konquer Obstacle Course Challenge at the Gov. Eloy S. Inos Peace Park in 2017. Contributed Photo

At the maintenance level, an individual has already mastered exercise skills and acquired “muscle memory,” Diaz said. “If I see individuals performing an exercise such as box jumps, burpees or lunges incorrectly, then they are still in the acquisition and fluency stage, which requires repeated practice before they can perform the more challenging movements.”

Finally, an individual reaches the generalization stage. He or she can confidently sign up for marathons, obstacle courses, join fitness teams, or train at the park, Diaz said. But he added that it takes lifelong practice to remain fluent in the proper exercise movements while avoiding regression.

He said it is also crucial to take a break. Even individuals who excel and perform at their optimum level may experience a dip in their performance due to the body’s requirement to rest and recover. “That’s the sign to take a step back and practice all the essential techniques learned during the initial stages to maintain long-term acquisition of new and previously learned skills,” he added.

Progression training tips

  • Listen to your body. Avoid rushing to do all exercises.
  • If you feel like resting, take a power nap or a day off from training.
  • Alternate your daily training program to avoid overtraining and injuries.
  • Experiment with various fitness approaches. See if they match your goals.
  • Take it one step at a time. There will be more opportunities to reach your ultimate goal.






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