Smart Conditioning for Weekend Warriors: Wise Advice for Those Trying to Manage it AllJun 01, 2008 03:00AM ● By Marj Hahne
Weekend warrior”: a term coined in 1981, the same year Time magazine ran “The Fitness Craze: America Shapes Up” as its cover story and Olivia Newton- John’s single “Physical” hit number one on Billboard’s Hot 100. “Yuppie” also entered America’s lexicon as a buzzword for young, affluent professionals; well-conditioned for marathon days spent in their offices and performance pressures in corporate boardrooms, these same go-getters are today’s typical weekend warriors.
Merriam-Webster defines a weekend warrior as: “A person who participates in a usually physically strenuous activity only on weekends or part-time.” The term has acquired an undeservedly pejorative tone because it implies someone who is out of balance, comments Patricia Guyton, owner of Pat Guyton Pilates, Inc. of Boulder, Colorado. “Weekend warriors are not binge athletes. They are dedicated to maintaining a healthy mind and body, while working a demanding 40-plus-hour week,” she says.
Guyton notes that weekend warriors comprise not only those in their 20s and 30s, but also folks in their 40s, 50s, and Guyton adds, “When you do any movement in correct posture, you get correct muscular development and minimize injury due to functional overuse or repetitive motion.” The Pilates mat series, which includes “every range of motion that the spine needs to do,” is ideal for desk jockeys. Uninterrupted hours in a non-ergonomic chair stiffen the spine and create muscle imbalances (tight vs. loose, weak vs. strong), which can lead to body alignment problems and, ultimately, injury.
Landry strongly advises that we learn to sit differently at the office. Consciously contracting the navel toward the erect spine activates deep abdominal muscles to yield a strong core. Corrective stretches to readjust muscle imbalances can be learned in a stretching class or from a personal trainer.
She muses, “To me, a warrior is one who prepares fully and purposefully for war, devising and implementing a wise strategy. Why not take the same approach and turn the weekend warrior into the wise warrior?”
The wise warrior, although pressed for time, warms up with 10 to 15 minutes of non-stretching movement and cools down with gentle stretching. He or she also asks a professional to check the integrity of their equipment (e.g., bicycle, running shoes) before their sport season resumes.
And if, after all preventive measures have been taken, an injury does occur, the wise warrior seeks medical help while the injury is new, when it can be treated before the body adapts and creates more imbalances. Above all, the wise warrior slows down enough to tune in to their body, self-monitor physical progressions in lieu of a structured training program and observe any fatigue or twinges that could signal more serious injury—and then take care of it.
Marj Hahne is a freelance writer and editor in the Boulder, CO. Call 303-476-8543 or visit MarjHahne.com.