The First Client n=1

Exploring Intensity

The First Client n=1

The Story of n=1

I was the first Cardio High client. I figured the Cardio High program needed to work for me before I introduced it to others. As I mentioned in an earlier chapter, I went to a dozen trainers who failed to raise my heart rate, or they attempted to do so by introducing exercises that carried an injury risk. There were three key people who helped me get to n=1 success.

Mike is a personal trainer who now has his own studio in West Newton. He was the first person who said to me, “I can do it. I will make you safely work hard and sweat.” He was right. He introduced me to mountain climbers on sliders and from there I added burpees on sliders and reverse lunge on sliders. Mike and I used a timer and different timing sequences like Tabata and :30 x 8. I had the first small set of routines that could raise the heart rate. I also used his Smith Machine to develop jumping push-ups and jumping pull-ups, which we have never been able to incorporate in our studio. They are awesome.

I designed the warm-up using the principle of starting with super easy movements and going through the entire body from feet to neck. I borrowed from PT and corrective exercise and yoga, and general sports warm-ups to build the first version. Aaron Brooks of Perfect Postures gave me a few other principles like starting with lateral motion, and he ultimately signed off and approved of the warm-up. He’s a true movement genius who heals body pain through his corrective exercise techniques. 

The third person who impacted how we do things is John Schumacher who trained Justine Wilshire the founder of Down Under Yoga. He is considered to one of the greatest Iyengar yoga teachers in the world. His descriptions of how to certain key simple poses changes the way a yoga client thinks about body position and balance. We incorporate some of his process into our strength and cool down stretches.

For the next step I needed a few guinea pigs to to expand n=1 to n=3 or n=4 to see if the program would work for others.

– Mark

Dear Mark,

I’m responding to this n=1 thing.

A workout can do a lot of things: the exercisey things we think of, sweating, lactic acid and breathing hard, but a good workout does even more. In the warm-up, you can honest to goodness get calmer by paying mindful attention to your position and posture. It’s hard to worry about that %#^* email you have to respond to when you are taking deliberate measured breaths and paying deliberate attention to keeping your lower back flat on the mat or keeping your neck in proper posture as you stretch so you don’t pull a muscle. 


As far as the workout itself, I LOVE mountain climbers. I would have trouble deciding on whether to get a course of wet needling in my tendon or do a minute of mountain climbers. Not really, I’d pick mountain climbers every time because though they are hard, I know I’m working my hardest by the end, and that feels good. Same with Tabata. (My auto correct insists that these should be called Rabbitas — wtf is a Rabbita?) 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, eight times in a row. It’s physical but also psychological. I have this thing where I’d rather finish the last sprint running, even if none of my sprints were max effort than have to slow my sprint pace, or heaven forbid, walk a little.

So t’abâtardis (try and auto correct that ok), interval sequence for me are an intense physical exercise in which each sprint is an experiment: If I go this fast can I recover enough to at least maintain a decent speed on the next sprint. 

I love Tabatas. Yes. That word. They make me physically strong and help me face my beliefs that are holding me back. HIIT that seeks to improve function and avoid injury is honestly one of my favorite ways to break a sweat. And if you stick with it, it’s a great jumpstart to your cardiovascular fitness, allowing a jump in endurance in a shorter time than running alone could do. Plus endorphins.

But getting back to the thesis statement here, Mark was really on to something genius when his Cardio High idea was born. 

– Dr. S

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