Shatterproof Your Spine
In an industry that’s inundated with movers and shakers promoting their watered down products, it’s always refreshing to have the opportunity to promote something I feel will help a lot of people. Back in 2009 (maybe it was 2010), fellow colleague John Izzo asked if I’d be willing to watch his DVD, Shatterproof Spine.
As the name suggests, it covers the spine (more specifically, lower back pain) and highlights a workshop that John did with a number of trainers at the facility he used to manage back in the day.
Note: he now OWNS his own facility.
What I liked best was that John mixed the perfect formula of science/research and combined it with the perfect blend of practical knowledge into an easy to follow, easy to assimilate format. Truth be told, he left no stone unturned covering topics such as assessment, corrective exercise for for low back health, proper posture positioning, understanding the role of fatigue as it relates to core strengthening, and much much more.
All told, I loved it, and it’s consistently one of the more popular DVDs that’s “borrowed” out of our Cressey Performance Resource Library.
Thing is, you can’t purchase the DVD anymore – it’s sold out (which should tell you something). As such, John has decided to re-release Shatterproof Spine as an instant download, so you can watch it anywhere at any time.
Reciprocally, while the product alone is outstanding, John has “sweetened” the pot by also including a couple of incentives:
5 Practical Drills to Identify Low Back Pain Sufferers – The book is complete with some applicable drills that John uses with his general population clients to help better understand which direction to take his programming, and also serves as a nice adjunct to his screening process.
Eye of the Trainer – Video download along the same lines of using certain exercises as observational assessments and helping trainers plan accordingly with their exercise programs.
Combined, this is a fantastic resource for any personal trainer out there looking to take his or her craft to the next level, and separate themselves from the masses.
To that end, I wanted to share an interview I did with John highlighting the release of Shatterproof Spine. In an industry that is notorious for less than exemplary practices, John is one of the rare few who “gets it,” and is recognized as one of the leaders in personal training standards.
TG: John, lets get the particulars out of the way. For those who may not be familiar with you or your work, can you give my readers the Cliff Notes version? Where are you located? What’s your background? What’s the main demographic that you work with? Do you like walks on the beach?
John Izzo: Thanks for having me Tony. Here is the gist of Izzo…I am a personal trainer located in Manchester, CT about 15 minutes away from Hartford. Years ago, I thought I wanted to be a strength coach….so I focused my attention on young athletes in a commerical gym setting. Didn’t work out. Being inside a commerical gym, every kid that called himself an “Athlete” wanted to train like a bodybuilder.
Sooner than later, I was getting more and more general population clients walking up to me looking for directions to their goals: better health, losing fat, and getting stronger. They were seeing what I was doing with many of the younger guys and thought that I can help them out. Well….I was able to and soon over 90% of my clientele were “normal” Joe’s and Jane’s looking for better function. Training younger athletes started to dwindle down and I turned my attention to helping people improve everyday performance. This was back around 2002. Around 2007, I came to the realization that I was a personal trainer–not a strength coach
Through the years, I found myself in management running the day to day operations; outfitting facilities, and balancing budgets. Thinking I can turn my back on personal training and make more money in management, I found out that I was wrong. Managing others is a bitch. You try to get everyone on the same page–same thought process as yours–but its never easy. As a gym manger, you are listening to people bitch and moan about changing channels on the TVs; music volume, someones hygiene on the treadmill, or trainers having sex outside. (Yes, that is a true story and guess who was the one that had to knock on the car window?)
TG: Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh snap. BOM CHICKA BOM BOM. Okay, sorry. You were saying……
JI: Anyways….my love to train others soon won. I returned back to full-time training in 2008. I opened my own facility in 2010 and it is mainly a one-on-one private training studio. I do teach group strength classes, but my love shines in one on one. That is where I feel I am a coach.
TG: Even though you and I have never met, we’ve exchanged several emails throughout the years, and I’m always amazed at just how “real” you are, never hesitating to call BS on anyone or anything. This is your chance to sound off. You and I both know that the fitness industry can be a circus – at best. What are some of the things, as of late, that really get your goat?
JI: Oh boy…are trying to get me in trouble…? The truth is, its not that I enjoy calling BS on anyone, I just feel that any good, honest adult should. I truly have a love for what I do, what you do, and what many fit pro’s do. I feel sometimes the industry is tainted with people that don’t belong here. I ‘ll put it to you this way…I know you are a big movie buff. Remember that scene in “Behind Enemy Lines” with Owen Wilson? That is one of my Top 10 best movies, BTW.
Anyway, remember the scene when the evil admiral was dead-against the US Marines going in to save Owen Wilson? Remember when the Marine captain was going over the Intel with his team on the deck and then the admiral showed up with some “French troops”? The admiral stated that the French troops “would be going in for the extraction”. Those guys didn’t belong there! Those guys had ZERO attachment to our guy down behind enemy lines! They didn’t care about our man. They were not going to give 110% effort, because there was no passion for Owen Wilson!
Well, that’s how I feel about alot of the guys that turn personal trainers’ attention away from serving the client and make them focus on making money. They don’t belong in our industry. They know what they are doing. They are feeding on a fear or scarcity that young, under-developed trainers have. And to me, they continue to hurt the industry—not help it.
TG: Okay, lets talk Shatterproof Spine. What was the impetus behind making this product?
JI: Around 2008, I was working with alot of golfers (still do). Alot of these guys were working at the investment firms, private business, or playing bridge all day and then wanted to hit the course. Well, many of them were having major back pain and it was affecting their swing.
If you can’t swing, you can’t play golf. If you suck at golf, no one is going to ask you to meet them for 8:30am tee off.
So, I went to work researching Dr. Stuart McGill and Shirley Sahrmann’s books. The info I found was fascinating and once I put it to practice with my golfers, they began to tell me how their backs felt better. As a trainer, you have to realize that everyone knows someone that has some sort of low back pain. Some people hide it, some people disregard it, and some people take medicine or have surgery for it.
The job of the trainer is to help people alleviate the symptoms of low back pain and restore optimal function. When it came time for me to teach a workshop for new trainers, I put together a slide-show that would encompass everything I had learned from the authors, along with my own findings–including videos with my golfers. The participants in the workshop were amazed at how much help they can provide (as trainers) to their clients simply by designing exercise programs more carefully and utilizing the drills in the video.
TG: On that front, what do you feel are the biggest mistakes trainers and coaches make with regards to working with clients who suffer from acute or chronic lower back pain?
JI: Mistake #1: Trainers ignore client’s complaints of low back pain. Personal trainers tend to ignore the small, subtle comments people make about low back pain and continue on with a strength training program. Or they tend to think a plank will fix everything. These trainers need to research more about mechanical low back pain and possibly learn the benefits of massage therapy, ART, and corrective exercise.
Mistake #2: Trainers shy away from giving clients challenging workouts because of low back issues. It is a double edged sword. New trainers–especially–tend to give clients very subtle, boring isometric exercises or tubing exercise that really make a client want to gag and leave.
Truth is, most people that suffer from low back pain are probably overweight, sedentary, and lack adequate core strength. Trainers tend to be “too careful” because they don’t know how to approach and design an exercise program that can include drills to strengthen the core and relieve low back tightness, improve hip mobility, and add flexibility. Hence, they do nothing and the client gets nothing.
TG: Great points on both fronts John. Elevator Pitch: who will benefit most from this product?
JI: Shatterproof Spine, Eye of the Trainer, and 5 Practical Drills eBook are really designed with the personal trainer or strength coach in mind. That’s not to say that your average exerciser can’t benefit from the drills demonstrated in the hands-on portion of the workshop.
TG: Thanks John. For those interested in more information on John (and his products), visit his site HERE. In addition, for those interested in Shatterproof Spine, what are you waiting for GO!!!