Okay, how many of you have had an injury from activities like running, starting a new exercise program (obviously not a good one), or just sitting at your desk? Would you believe me if I told you that most of these injuries are caused by sitting at your desk or just being in the seated posture all day? If you like me, you’ll believe me.
If you don’t like me then maybe you’ll like my friend Aaron a little better. He’s a lot smarter than I am when it comes to injury and postural correction. I would go so far as to call him a postural ninja. Aaron Brooks is the owner of Perfect Postures, a leading exercise facility in Newton MA and creator and founder of the Myoforce VERSUS. He is leading the way for other fitness and therapeutic professionals in postural restoration and corrective exercise with very specialized techniques including his use of the VERSUS trainer. Pretty badass right?
I met Aaron a couple years ago when he presented at the Perform Better Summit and have had the opportunity to visit Perfect Postures several times to shadow Aaron to see how he works with his clients. Last week when I visited, I was able to get an interview which was filmed. Due to technical difficulties, you will get the typed version.
I’m glad you were able to do this interview, I always enjoy picking the brain of the brightest individuals in this field and soaking up as much knowledge as I can. First off, could you tell my readers a little about your background. How did you get into the field of corrective exercise?
So basically I’ve been in the industry since 1991, which is a short time after I graduated college. My first big endeavor as a personal trainer was running my own studio which I did for several years. I learned a lot about the business side of things during that time.
I then decided to move out west to CA with a buddy of mine and did some work as a personal trainer. After being on my own, I began work at a place called T.H.E. Clinic which is now called the Egoscue Clinic. I learned a lot about corrective exercise in my short time there and am still very thankful for the things I learned there. I stayed there for about a year before deciding to go out on my own again.
My next big endeavor was partnering a company called Function First in 1995 which was based around corrective and functional exercise. We were very successful and worked together for about 10 years in which time sold my half of the company to travel to the east coast where I created my own company called Perfect Postures where I remain today. Myoforce came later.
I know that your main focus at Perfect Postures is corrective exercise which seems to be the big buzzword among trainers and coaches nowadays. How did you personally get into corrective exercise and how do you incorporate it in all your programs? What type of clients do you see?
What got me into corrective exercise was my time at the Egoscue Clinic. It definitely opened up my eyes to looking at the body in a different light and I was only there for about a year. I was very gracious to be able to spend the time there that I did and it was a very powerful and motivating force in my life.
Mostly its chronic muscular disorders that we deal with so we’re mainly seeing clients with concerns about lower back, knee, shoulder, you name it. Most people that come in here have had past experiences with either surgeries, anti-inflammatory meds, epidural shots or cortizone shots and they’ve seen chiropracters , physical therapists, massage therapists, accupuncturists and other health professionals.
Our programs are mostly all based off of what we see during an innitial assessment as well as things like their gait. When someone comes in, even if they come in asymptomatic, they are going to have some homework to do (corrective exercise). This includes both those who are suffering from chronic pain as well as athletes.
Then we work on programs to correct faulty movement patterns. Bascially, a lot of the stuff we do here is making the person more functional and making them have less pain but we’re NOT treating injuries. We are correcting muscle imbalances, joint dysfuncitons and postural deviations. The last thing we want to do is correct their dysfunciton, get them functioning better and then release them and have them go to a gym. We don’t want to do that, we see that too often which is why most of our clients remain at our facility.
Really cool stuff. More trainers need to follow that model of assessing and correcting for sure. If you could only choose 5 exercises to do for the rest of your life what would they be and why?
- Deadlifts of course because they are corrective and functional and train full body strength.
- pull-ups for upper body strength.
- lunges or variations for single leg strength training.
- versus press (bilateral/unilateral) for a pressing exercise
- versus row (bilateral/unilateral) for a pulling exercise
That is a question I like to ask coaches and specialists to see the similarities in thier response to show how important the basics are. Now, you also mentioned 2 exercises that I don’t typically hear using the “Versus”, which to me looks like just a TRX suspension trainer with a pulley. What exactly is it?
It is something I had an idea for about 10 years ago but back then it wasn’t a pulley system. It was simply chains with a bar attached so we could do suspension training.
My next idea was to make it dynamic with more stability involved. I went out, bought pulleys and cables and brought it over to a buddy’s house and hooked it up to his son’s swingset and took him through some of the exercises I created. It was at that exact moment he said we had to run with it.
What is the difference between that and your typical suspension trainer such as a TRX?
The biggest difference is the neurological factor. Your body has to adapt through every point in the movement because of the pulley system. If your off in any way the weakest is going to show itself. For instance if your doing a unilateral press and your weak on one side, that side is going to bail out. You just don’t get that elsewhere with any suspension type training.
We incorporate them in many of our programs at Fitcorp and all I can say is: AWESOME. I have always wondered, though, why it is called the VERSUS trainer. Any specific reason?
Ha, actually yes. VERSUS stands for Variable Resistance Strength System. Variable resistance means that there is ALWAYS a variable load which is really because of the pulley and also because you can change the line of pull either vertically or horizontally. The possibilities are limitless and we are creating new exercises every week, there is so much to do with it.
Personally, I can say that there are some pretty challenging exercieses for almost any level. Changing gears, what direction do you see the fitness industry going in the coming years? I mean, there always seems to be some sort of new trend but what seems to be——–
Good question. I see the fitness industry going more into studio’s than large gyms and I hope to see more of a focus correctional and functional strength training. This is one of the reasons I am working on creating certification based on corrective exercise. I still see a HUGE void in not only the fitness industry but also in healthcare system. People are getting hurt that don’t need to be and are generally getting lost in the system. Insurance pays for doctor’s visits, a couple months of physical therapy, then people head back to their old routine to only repeat the process.
I have had some resistance from some clients when it comes to the effectiveness and efficacy of corrective exercise. Do you see a lot of skeptics at Perfect Postures?
When I have someone come in who is skeptic I explain the process and let them know that the proof is in the pudding. I actually enjoy working with skeptics because most times after one session, they are going to see a change. It is a challenge to get someone to see something they didn’t believe in. It will cause a change in their attitude towards it and make a huge impact on their life.
That’s awesome, Aaron. I don’t want to keep you but I just want to say thanks for taking the time to talk to me, I know your a busy guy nowadays. Where can my readers go to check out your stuff as well as pick up a VERSUS trainer?
It was great to speek with you, thanks for stopping by. You can have people check out what I am doing here as far as corrective and postural exercise at perfectpostures.com. To read more about the VERSUS, please go to myoforce.com or myoforce.net.
Wrapping up, I highly recommend checking out some of Aaron’s programs with the VERSUS for yourself, your clients, or your athletes to enhance their programs and really hammer their stability. I have been lucky enough to have access to VERSUS trainers in my facility which I incorporate in many of my exercise programs with my clients and have great results across the board.
I wanted to get some video’s up for you all of yours truly training with the VERSUS but due to technical difficulties (memory card stuck in the computer) I won’t be able to upload them. To make up for it, I will be highlighting a few exercises with the VERSUS over the next few weeks or so. Stay tuned America.