Built to Last

Built to Last

A CBFer shared a video about an elite college football player rehabbing from a devastating knee injury. One of the reasons she sent it along (in addition to being an inspiring story of grit and determination) is that she noticed many exercises he performs are similar or identical to those we do at CBF – hurdles, agility ladder, pulling a sled (Plough Horses), and multi-directional cone drills.

Why would older adults be doing the same exercises as a college superstar?


Actually, the only real difference between this elite athlete and a CBFer is the purpose of the exercises. In the case of this elite athlete, it’s to recover from and injury. For a CBFer, the purpose of the exercises is to avoid injury by developing resilience.

You’ll find an illuminating discussion about resilience by Jarlo at GMB. Because this site is created by trainers who are experienced gymnasts and martial artists, they have a solid grasp on human movement. We read a lot about exercise, and this article presents a very concise view of what resilience really includes, as well as how you build it. Don’t be put off by their youthful athleticism; the basic principles are the same for people of all ages.

The article defines resilience as “how well your body adapts to and absorbs stresses, especially unusual and unexpected ones…” Injuries happen when something unusual happens – a sudden trip and recovery or need to move sideways quickly or jump up.

Strength, the ability to exert force, plays a role in injury prevention, but resilience is more than that. As Jarlo writes, “resilience is the ability to withstand force.” In other words, your body – bones, tendons, ligaments, fascia, joints – are able to function and remain intact in a variety of conditions and positions.

“The higher your resilience, the less likely you are to incur debilitating injuries when something goes wrong,”says Jarlo, “and the better chance you’ll recover well if an unavoidable injury does happen.” 

That’s why in every CBF class we train to build agility, coordination, strength, flexibility, and endurance. All of these working in combination result in resilience.

When you become resilient, you’re built to last.

The Safe Exerciser

The Safe Exerciser

The other day a CBFer, who attends only sporadically, questioned if an exercise in a circuit was safe because it involved a slight rotation of the spine while lifting the hands overhead. In fact, the exercise in question is a practical movement sequence you might use in everyday life to safely lift a package from the floor upwards onto a shelf.

She was unaware that the biggest determinant of safety is who’s doing the exercise, rather than the exercise itself. What’s perfectly safe for one person could pose a risk for injury for another due to several factors.


Here are the characteristics of a safe exerciser. He or she:

- Knows their body. They are aware of their vulnerabilities, e.g., old injuries or medical conditions, and how to work around them. They have probably determined these by experimentation, not just the advice of a health professional ( who may or may not ever do challenging exercise).

- Thoroughly warms up. They do not miss the warm-up because it is a necessary pre-requisite for a safe workout by lubricating and warming muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. This improves the extensibility of the tissues and reduces the chances for a strain or sprain.

- Test drives any new exercise. They don’t pick the heaviest resistance or go to their fastest speed/highest intensity first time they try an exercise. They see how it feels first. They slowly feel the full range of motion it requires.

- Maintains good exercise form above all else. They pick resistances or a pace they can sustain with proper form. When form falters, other muscles and joint complexes can get involved that are not a targeted area for the exercise and can lead to injury. If they tire before the clock is up, they stop.

- Attends often enough to be familiar with the exercises to do them correctly. While CBF uses a wide range of challenging exercises, over time CBFers master most of them. People who drop in only occasionally never quite get it right so they can pose a risk to themselves. Regular attendance a conditions the person to be able to have basic strength and flexibility in places like shoulders, core, and hips to exercise hard, yet be safe.

We’re fortunate that there have been few injuries at CBF during circuit exercises, mainly because CBFer’s are safe exercisers and practice the principles above.

There’s no doubt that vigorous exercise poses risks. This is more true for older exercisers because of hidden wear and tear and changes occurring in connective tissues, making them less flexible. But, ironically, avoiding risk (in addition to just being lazy) leads to the sorry physical state of so many Boomers.

Just remember being a safe exerciser in the gym makes it possible for you to perform safely in life out there in the real world.








CBF Swingers

CBF Swingers

There are some very important and fundamental principles of human movement displayed by the CBFers in this video. The very same ones that enable a professional batter to hit a home run also enable regular folks to sweep the floor, open a sliding door, shovel snow, and swing a golf club.

Most of the video is in slow motion. We’ll explain what’s worth noticing after you watch it. There are some front and back shots, as well as just lower bodies and feet.

To generate forceful rotational movement, two systems of muscle and connective tissue come into play, the posterior and anterior oblique systems. Think of giant X’s running from each foot, crossing the hips, and up to the opposite shoulder on the front and back of your body. The expansion and contraction of those X’s is what causes the rotation, and the more they stretch (as in the backswing preparing to hit the ball), the faster and harder they contract (hitting the ball).

Power depends on firm footing, mobility, and conditioned muscles. These CBFers are able to swing safely with power (many older adults can’t) because they have conditioned their bodies through stretching and dynamic strength movements such as medicine ball side throws, band knee to knee pulls, side planks, alternate presses, and lots of other exercises to develop wide range of motion, shoulder and hip mobility, as well as core strength.

Towards the last part of the video, notice how the hips (full rotation towards the front) and feet (from back foot to front foot, then a pivot toward the direction the ball is hit) enable the transfer of the most power.

The point is not whether we make the major league in baseball. We’re already there in the World Series of Life, and need to be ready to perform at the top of our skills every day. As for any pro, that takes practice.