Nerd alert.

I went to a great seminar last week hosted by Equinox, with Thomas Myers as the keynote speaker. Thomas Myers is a manual therapist, who studied under Dr. Ida Rolf early in his career, and wrote a book called ‘Anatomy Trains’. Rather than seeing the body as made up of specific, separate muscles, Myers concentrates on large sections (‘trains’) of fascia that envelop many muscles, and basically work as one, integrated whole.

Also speaking was Charlie Weingroff, a physical therapist, and strength and conditioning coach. Weingroff was a basketballer, now a powerlifter, and was the head strength and conditioning coach for the Philadelphia 76er’s in 2006.

So what is fascia? Fascia is the tissue that envelops muscles, including connective tissue (tendons and ligaments). Basically, it’s what usually is cut away from each separate muscle in a dissection. As Thomas Myers so eloquently put it, ‘Muscle is ground beef without the fascia’.

This is a still image of living fascia from Dr Jean Claude Guimberteau’s film “Strolling Under the Skin”, the first images of living fascia recorded. The fascia moves, changes, creates new attachments, as the body moves. It is hauntingly beautiful and fascinating.

What I took away from the seminar were a few key points that I think are pertinent to personal training. Here are a couple of points that will have an effect on how I think about programming for my clients:

* The fascial system takes 18-24 months to build to a new adaptation. In contrast, a basic strength and conditioning training program can see muscular adaptation and changes within 6-8 weeks. The reverse is also true – once the fascial system has accommodated muscle growth, if you then stop training, it takes 18-24 months for the fascia to revert back. When we program at Equinox, we have an over-arching 12 month macrocycle plan in place. Maybe I should be looking at an 18-24 month macrocycle.

* Whole body movement: the nature of these trains of fascia along the body beg for using primarily whole body movement rather than a focus on single joint exercises. This is ‘functional training’ reworded and reworked, it would seem, but using the fascial lines as a way of explaining why it is important.

If you want to read more about Thomas Myers, his website is http://www.anatomytrains.com/