BY John Morgan, Spotlight Health, with Medical Adviser Stephen A. Shoop, M.D. October 10, 2003
What do former NFL star Jason Seahorn, Chicago Bulls No. 1 draft pick Tyson Chandler and Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Steve Finley have in common?
Aside from all being professional athletes, they all train the same way.
That’s relatively unheard of when dealing with such diverse professional sports as football, basketball and baseball – all of which require intense athletic specificity.
“If you could only read one fitness book and do one exercise program for the rest of your life,” says Finley, “ProBodX is it. It’s like the fitness fountain of youth. There is nothing like it. Period.”
Because ProBodX is so forward thinking and unique, Finley had to overcome a lot of preconceived ideas he had learned about training. He began the program developed by chiropractor Edythe Heus and sports enhancement specialist Marv Marinovich shortly after foot surgery in 1997. Their new book ProBodX: Proper Body Exercise is available in stores and online now.
The first radical departure for Finley was dropping weight. Literally. No weight lifting.
“I had no clue what to expect,” admits Finley, who made the trip to the World Series with both the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks. “I was a little panicked in a sense because I kept asking, ‘When are we going to lift heavier weights, when are we going to lift heavier weights?’”
Finley was in for a big surprise.
“This is a fitness and wellness program designed with chiropractic principles,” says Heus, who is an honors graduate of New York Chiropractic College. “The sequence of the exercises is very important because each one builds upon the other in fully integrating and balancing the human body. And by balancing the body, the underlying injuries that have been compensated for are healed.”
In essence you are aligning and healing your body while you work out and get fit.
Finley, who suffered numerous nagging injuries throughout his career, noticed the difference in his body almost immediately.
“Everything felt right in my body,” Finley reports. “I just felt completely in sync. That is the whole design of this program. It gets all your muscles performing their proper functions so you can do things more efficiently. This allowed me to perform at my highest level with much less effort.”
As with all major leaguers, spring training would be his proving ground.
“I got to spring training and had not lifted any weights over 25 pounds – everything was 8 to 12 pound hand weights,” reports Finley, who has a degree in physiology. “My entire career, no matter what I did in the off-season I would get sore during spring training. There’s just never been any way around that. But for the first time ever, I didn’t have one sore muscle. And the ball was jumping off my bat better than during any point in my career. The ball was going 40 and 50 feet farther. I couldn’t believe it.”
Neither will most ‘old school’ coaches and trainers.
“ProBodX is an opportunity to dispel these old fitness wives tales, outdated traditions and flat-out erroneous, non-scientific methods,” says Heus, who trains numerous world-class athletes.
“I would say about 100% of the things I was told as an athlete was wrong,” says Marinovich, a former NFL conditioning coach and founder of SportsLab in Rancho Santa Margarita, California. “The answers are found in science but so many trainers and coaches are simply immersed in tradition.”
According to the two authors, heavy weight lifting depreciates your elastic energy and puts the body out of balance.
“When you lift, you’re making a selective decision as to which few muscles you want to activate and this is all too often based on aesthetics or perhaps a sports-specific task,” explains Heus. “Right off the bat, this begins the process of unbalancing the body. This creates a ripple-effect throughout the body and will, over time, lead to decreased performance and probably injury.”
Weight lifting also slows an athlete down.
“In sports you have fractions of a second to apply the force so you have to train as fast or faster than you’re going to play,” Marinovich states. “It takes 6/10 to 8/10 of a second to produce a maximal muscle contraction with weights. You don’t have that kind of time in a game situation. Big muscles actually impede quickness and explosiveness.”
Among the many exercise concepts toppled by Heus and Marinovich’s program are:
Stretching — Stretching is not a good idea for the body before the muscles have been contracted. ProBodX emphasizes warming up the entire body by increasing circulation and breaking a sweat first.
“In chiropractic school we studied stretching but I was so discouraged by how little it helped,” Heus notes. “I realized that a lot of muscle tightness was not solved by stretching because this tightness was really being caused by weak muscles that were out of balance and thus creating an extra burden on other muscles. Balancing the body is a way of relieving this artificial tightness.”
Bigger isn’t better — ProBodX develops the small muscles that are more important neurologically. These smaller muscles are often weakened when people overdevelop major muscle groups through weight lifting or sports-specific training.
Isolation exercises – “This is not an isolation program,” Heus says. “While we categorize the exercises, these are really an intellectual delineation. We are not isolating muscle groups like in weight lifting where people workout the upper body Monday, Wednesday and Friday and lower body Tuesday and Thursday. ProBodX exercises the entire body – every workout.”
Stability creates balance – In fact, instability creates balance. If this is too ‘Zen’ for you, the basic message is that ProBodX exercises are always performed on an exercise ball or slant board which forces the body to constantly adjust and maintain balance.
“One of the most significant aspects of the program is working out on unstable planes – this immediately engages the nervous system because your body must work to remain stable,” Marinovich explains. “The instability teaches the muscles to create and maintain balance by engaging the brain’s proprioceptive sensitivity – the awareness of where your body is.”
And to keep your wallet in shape, ProBodX equipment costs under $150, far less than an expensive membership to a gym. Additionally, the workout can easily be done at home or in a hotel room. A typical ‘basic’ or ‘basic plus’ workout requires only 30-50 minutes to complete.
“I do the workout on the road,” Finley says. “It is very easy to travel with and that’s important because I do the workout during the season. I do a shorter version for about 20 minutes maybe three times a week in the beginning of the season. But off-season I really work out hard – three times a week for about two hours a day.”
The workout is designed for an active, healthy lifestyle. This is not only because of the unique healing aspects of the program but also in how you feel after working out.
“This is not a workout that breaks your body down,” Finley explains. “This makes ProBodX fundamentally different that weight training. I feel great after I workout. I don’t feel ripped up. I feel activated.”
At age 38, Finley feels better than ever. So how long does he think he can continue to excel in baseball?
“I’m not going to put a number on it,” Finley says. “I’m not going to put limits on my career. But one thing I know for certain, ProBodX has extended my career. No question it’s added life to my game.”