I’m one of those “less-than-traditional” women who likes the unconventional approach to movement and fitness. I’ll be honest, I’m more likely to stay committed to my workout if the tool, approach, and method is a little quirky, creative and intelligent.
I admit it. My attention span requires a workout regimen recipe of complexity and creativity with equipment that makes me feel my prowess moving between identities/alter egos.
This may seem like a fastidious recipe, but in order for me to “stay in the game” or commit, my brain, body and spirit must live in the same house and interact with one another. Each of these “family members” has a voice that defines my respect for the process of transformation. And while I respect them all, they can sound like jibber jabber when what they’re talking about does not completely resonate with my spirit.
As a result, I’m careful to choose to work with equipment that generates a spark of curiosity and inspiration. The Steel Club is the one tool that I can count on to challenge my over-active brain and needs.
The first time I worked with a Steel Club, I felt like I got slapped in the face with a potent dose of locomotive reality. Simply holding it without face-planting became the first challenge. The unusual weight distribution and shape immediately demanded that I activate the body in a way to keep the shoulder girdle, wrists and elbows engaged and safe. You’re required to be in the moment. Say goodbye to random thoughts, people. This tool demands your attention!
Benefit #1 – Movement Awareness
You are connecting to your body and learning how best to support the movement. Could there be any better benefit to movement longevity than this?
With the rise of injuries related to exercise, we really need to switch gears from the result-driven thought process to being proactive about progressions and the process of learning complex skills. All that cool stuff that you see online? Technique is at the root of it – well most of it! The more complex the tool and movement, the deeper the learning curve and process.
The steel commands the body to work as one with the club. Whether you choose to swing clubs or press them, the body must learn to quickly organize its stabilizing functions in order to move well and with grace and control. By learning how to integrate the full body while performing the exercises, you’ll add another layer of intensity to the workout.
By using the Steel Club, we can easily shift the intention from a workout focused on a particular region of the body to a workout that covers the entire body. For example, the Steel Club swing is much more effective and challenging when we begin the exercise by pressing through the soles of the feet and then fully engaging the hips and core during the forward motion of the swing. But if we’re looking at the Swing (solely) as an exercise that emphasizes a few areas of the body, then we’re doing the Steel Club an injustice. Looks are deceiving with this tool and the connection to movement awareness runs deep.
The Steel Club guides us to improve our movement awareness skills by:
• Learning the body’s response to complex movements
• Coordinating breath through the exercises
• Occupying space in a safe and efficient way while swinging and pressing the weight
Benefit #2 – Deepened Range of Motion and Happy Shoulders
You get to have all of it with consistent training!
Between the Steel Club fundamentals and the nature of the exercises, we reap the benefits of multi-dimensional training. Working with the club in a variety of ranges and patterns (particularly circular), lubricates the joints and strengthens the overall shoulder girdle. Why wouldn’t we expand our training options to include multi-planar movements? Steel Club exercises shed light on this.
As a woman who has a limited attraction to standard weight lifting exercises and needs to make nearly everything a dance, the Steel Club exercises gave me hope and the interest to stay on track with my training. Because of my dance background, I’m a sucker for transitions in movement. I find that since some of the club exercises are more complex, I have the opportunity to explore and enjoy the transitions. By doing so, I discover the grace and essentially ‘the dance’ within the exercise.
Benefit #3 – Coordination and Balance
We put our body under a tremendous amount of stress when we lose the grace of the exercise and movement. Steel Club exercises remind us of the necessity of coordination through the chains of movements. The coordination aspect of Steel Club training has more depth to it than your average push or press movements.
If we break down the coordination behind the two-handed clock squat, we can get a pretty good idea of how the movement begins on a basic level. The fun begins when we dive into understanding how the body supports the exercise through movement awareness – how it engages multiple areas through multi-planar activity and at THAT point, we can work on coordinating the movement progressions to make the exercise as cool as it is. And there we have it… an exercise tool that houses the mind, body and spirit – harmoniously.
Speaking of harmony, balance and its relevance to Steel Club training deserves a spotlight. There’s no denying that balance plays a huge role in training with grace. Plain and simple, our balance is challenged when we shift our weight from one direction to another. Add an unevenly distributed weighted tool, and you add another layer of difficulty.
One of my favorite Steel Club exercises that demonstrates this are alternating forward lunges with forward Steel Club presses. Unloaded forward lunges – not a big deal. But give me loaded lunges with pressing movements, my eyes widen and I’m immediately in my focused zone, working hard to stabilize the movement.
I have found that the more consistent my Steel Club training, the sharper my sense of balance is in my dance work. It’s a fantastic complement to so many movement disciplines.
While these benefits are significant, they represent only a few of the many gains that can be experienced by dedicated practitioners and students of Steel Club training.