By Derek Stratton, BFX
It’s pretty awesome to live in a world where the athleticism of a solid dance background is becoming more and more appreciated. Dancers are some of the fiercest athletes around. I fell in love with performance in my late teens, and soon became a core member of Pilobolus Dance Company. It’s one of the most physically demanding dance groups around, a groundbreaking company known for creating shapes from body weight, contortions, and physical interactions between dancers. You clearly get to know how your body works and how other bodies work really well. Making it through the rigorous demands of touring and training is all about having a foundation.
My transition between dance and personal training is a natural, seamless one. Being an expert in movement, not only in aesthetics but in functionality, gives me an upper hand in understanding how to get a client to execute proper mechanics, in everything from a Kettlebell swing to a burpee.
I always stress form and function first when working with students and clients. Once this is established, they will be able to take on a much bigger workload and apply the proper stress to the body, reducing the possibility of injury. (I joke with my clients that they are training to be indestructible.) Along with form and function, I attack the core and teach how to connect the core to every movement. This has proven effective in rapid increases in strength, speed, and agility in my clients, and narrowing the waistline, which is a challenge for so many. Since I was an athlete (football and basketball) before my dance career, I use a variety of explosive plyometric exercises in my clients’ workouts to take their fitness to the next level.
At BFX Studio, I work with a wide variety of personal training clients, from supermodels training for a next big campaign, to clients simply trying to meet weight loss goals to get to their next milestone, whether it’s a birthday or a triathlon. I take helping people reach their goals really seriously. But I also love to inject a little bit of humor into it, too.
I have a client who’s started a whole playful and viral #ihatederek campaign for some of the workouts I put clients and students through. Clients have even made baseball caps and t-shirts with the hashtag, and have been using it on Instagram and Twitter when they tag @BFXStudio! It’s pretty funny. But it also shows how inspired people get, and how excited they can become about a workout where they are really seeing changes for the better.
In addition to private training, I teach BFX Burn and BFX Barre. It’s great to incorporate elements of traditional sports and dance into a workout routine. It’s also a solid example of how variety in your workouts can challenge your body in new ways. I like to mix up my workouts the same way I mix up my clients’ workouts. I’m just as comfortable twisting my body into crazy shapes on stage, as I am training with fellow BFX Studio trainers for Spartan Races.
That’s the kind of experience I really enjoy bringing to my clients — and that complete boutique experience is what BFX Studio is all about. I love being a part of it, and seeing what having that true ability to cross-train with all the right mechanics can really do for clients and students. If you don’t have variety mixed with that solid foundation, the results stop. If that’s not enough reason to huff #ihatederek during a workout, I’m not sure what is. I think of it as a good thing — and a pretty cool badge of honor.
Derek’s Top 5 Tips
1. Know why you are doing what you are doing.
Also a valuable life lesson. If you don’t know why you are doing an exercise, then you will probably get less out of it. You should always have an intention. It’s ok if you don’t know specific muscles or bones, but there should be a “why” behind your choice of exercises.
2. Mix it up.
Doing the same exercise all the time is ineffective in producing change in your body, not to mention the potential for overuse injuries. If you currently spin 6 times a week, grab a HIIT class or TRX or boxing class to surprise your body into action.
3. Try a session with a trainer.
If you’ve never had one-on-one instruction, you should. Especially if you are an avid class person. This is an opportunity to check in and make sure all those crazy movements you’re doing in class are correct, so you can get the full benefit of the movement. It will also mix it up for you, and give you more of an understanding behind the movements.
4. Roll out!
(Like Ludacris) Whatever version of exercise you choose to do, a thorough rolling session with a stretch to complement each muscle group will do wonders in your body’s recovery and cut down on the next-day-soreness.
5. Have Fun.
Okay, so not every minute of exercise is going to be a blast, but there are so many different classes, trainers, and fitness options that you should find something that you get some enjoyment out of — I promise, it is out there!
Derek Stratton is a personal trainer and group exercise instructor at BFX Studio, working with some of the world’s top models. He’s also an actor, model, and former Pilobolus Dance Theater company member. He studied at the State University of New York, Brockport, and is originally from Norwich, NY. Derek is CPT certified through NASM.