untitledI was a junior in high school in 1999 when the Matrix came out. I remember seeing it in the theaters with my good friend Jochen who like myself was a lover of film and a fan of innovative sci-fi. To say my mind was blown would be an understatement. No one had seen special effects like that every before and to pair it with a clever and original story that was visually stunning created a movie experience I will never forget. There is something else that happened in the Matrix that always stuck with me as well. I remember the end of the movie very well, they key point in the story that Neo realizes he is “the one” and is finally able to see able to see the code of the matrix.  With his gift to see the code he is now able to bend and manipulate it to his desire and in essence becomes a creator. 2 key things had to happen for him to develop this ability; first he had to “wake up”. Always knowing that there was something not quite right with the “real world” he sought out those who could show him the real life he had been sleeping through. Second he had to come to realize that even though the code was complex, challenging and confusing, it could be read and having the ability to read and understand it gave one the power to change it.
I think about this often in terms of fitness and performance. Movement in essence is a complex “code” of interactions, relationships, forces and actions but each time we learn something new it alters the way we see movement and exercise. We learn to read little pieces of the code one by one and begin to see things that we never noticed before. For example when I first begin training clients and was watching them do a plank I would focus my attention on the spine and did not have the ability to see outside that area. I had a couple cues I would use to help “fix” poor planking but it they didn’t work (which they often did not) I was stuck and had no place else to go. When I learned that contracting the glutes during a plank helped stabilize the pelvis which then in turn created a more stable environment for core bracing to achieve a neutral spine I was able to see more of the code. Now when I look at a plank, glute activation is one of the first places I look. Learning how the system worked help me see it better and most importantly help change it for the better. It is hard to determine how to fix a problem if I don’t know where to look for faults or don’t understand all the pieces involved. A good mechanic knows how all the parts of an engine interact with each other; this allows them to run a diagnostic checklist of problems encountered so they may find the broken link. Through detailed study of anatomy and the human body in movement you can develop you skill, like Neo, to “see the code”; when you can see it you have the power to manipulate it.
One final though to leave you with; a crucial part of Neo’s journey was when he made the decision to “wake up”. He had spent his life seeking answer for questions he did not know, lost, seeking a new direction not knowing where to start or how to get there. He did all this and made sacrifices because he know something didn’t feel right, something was off in his reality and he felt deep in his heart that there was the potential for something more. What is and what should be very seldom align, we often accept the status quo because that is the way of the world but we know in our hearts there is a better way. If you are reading this you no doubly have had that feeling, you love fitness and training but you know there is a better way to impact the lives of those you connect with. Never silence that inner voice that drives you to find new answers; encourage it, listen to it and let it grow. The path is not always easy but there is a better world that awaits us, it’s time to “wake up”.

About caseystutzman

Casey Stutzman is an AFAA certified trainer and has been actively involved in the fitness industry since 2004. Since 2006 he has acted as the Head Trainer at the Bay Athletic Club in Alpena Michigan. Casey’s love of athletics and competition drove him in to the fitness industry. He uses his experience as a division 1 college football player, amateur bodybuilding competitor, strongman competitor to help others reach their goals in all areas of fitness. Casey spends his time at Bay Athletic Club teaching Boot Camps, small group training sessions, training clients and working with participants in Bay Athletic Club’s Corporate Fit Challenge program. He also develops strength and conditioning programs and does performance training for a number of local athletic organizations and high school teams. As an Ignite Performance Master trainer and Master Instructor for TRX Casey travels North America to educate and connect with fitness professionals to help them offer more to their clients and athletes. Time outside of fitness is occupied with reading, travel, indoor rock climbing, snow sports and being an active outdoorsman. He enjoys spending free time with his wife Mary Beth, his daughter Vesper, son Indiana and Turkish the family dog.

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