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Death of the Diet Spotlight: Carolyn Appel and Free Range Human

Carolyn Appel

Carolyn Appel and Free Range Human

Carolyn and I used to work together at Equinox in NYC during my grad school days.  Being a relative newbie to the field at that time, I was equally intimidated and intrigued by the more experienced trainers – including Carolyn.  While every trainer had their own style, I was always impressed by the thoughtfulness in which she taught clients how to do exercises properly.  The two words to note in that sentence are: taught and properly.  Makes total sense – she has her Master’s Degree in Motor Learning and Control from Columbia University!

She not only taught people what exercises to do, but also why they should be doing them.  And if something wasn’t working right, she’d modify or correct until it did – and then have the client understand why the change worked.  She was building the client’s self-efficacy in their ability to exercise on their own, safely.  Rather than just giving them a workout (give a client a fish…), she was teaching them how to workout (teach a client to fish…).

As I’ve developed over the years, I’ve come to appreciate the subtle, yet profound difference between giving someone a workout, and teaching someone to workout (or move properly in daily life).  I use this philosophy in my practice with every single one of my clients.  It requires very little extra time and effort on the part of the trainer, but makes a world of difference to the client.  A few examples include:

  1. Watching and cueing form, especially as the client fatigues.

  2. Helping clients learn how to end a set when form fails, rather than contorting yourself in bad form to eke out one or two poor, extra reps.

  3. Telling someone where they should and should not be feeling an exercise – and getting them to actually feel it.

  4. Always being a student to other practitioners and experts in the field so we can integrate better cues and more effective exercises into our training programs.

A few weeks ago, I found out that Carolyn now has a blog (including a growing number of videos with lots of excellent instruction), and a free e-book available at her site focused on developing training routines at home (without a gym).  Here’s an example of a recent post: The 19 Most Common Workout Mistakes, Part 1.  Check it out – you won’t be disappointed!

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