I’ve tried starting this post several times, but no matter how I try to word it, it just doesn’t sound any better. I gave in and titled it appropriately….if you catch my drift.
Anyways, through some power of grayskull, Mike happened to find me through Twitter. AND, he didn’t just “Follow” me on Twitter (that’s what you do, you “Follow” people….for my non-tweeting friends), he mentioned that he perused the website and liked what he saw. At first I was just like, “Well, cool. A random person on the intrawebz stumbled across my site and actually likes it. I must be gettin’ somewhere with this thing.” So of course, I do my usual e-stalking and find out he’s some kind of fitness guy here in the Twin Cities too. Alright, that’s fine, probably just like, one of those Snap Fitness trainers or something like that. Boy was I WRONG!
Mike is about 2 months away (he guesses) from finishing his PhD in Kinesiolgy (Exercise Physiology); he is a Master Trainer of Z-Health (more on that later); he has his own website that I HIGHLY suggest everyone subscribes to; he also trains people part-time; and he does nutritional consulting with (and for) some of the top people in the industry. Why this guy thinks my rinky-dink website is “cool” is waaaaaay beyond me.
The night (bro-date) starts off in his living room. No, no, no, no…..ok, I mean: so, the night starts off with a Z-health demonstration (that’s better)….in his living room (damn, thwarted again). He has me lie down on my back and says, “ok, we’re gonna test your glute.” ….. Is this getting weird for anybody else?….. He has me push my leg laterally against his hand says, “ok”. I’m thinking, “ok”, I have the world’s strongest glutes, or “ok”, ‘wow, you’re the biggest vagine I’ve ever seen’? But, he just leaves it at “ok”, asks me about my horrendous ankles, and proceeds to massage it. After that, I perform the test again. This time he couldn’t push my leg back at all. It was like I had Superman’s leg. I was very confused to say the least. How does one’s glute become stronger just by having one’s ankle massaged? He explained to me what he just did and even though I knew the anatomy of my ankle, he was still using words that made me go, “que?”.
In the most simplistic form (the way I have to understand it), Z-health is the understanding and manipulation of the nervous system. The nervous system is what controls all of the muscles in your body. So, if you have a deficient muscle or joint, for one reason or another (repeated ankle sprains in my case), Z-health believes it can be corrected through manipulations of the corresponding nerves. So, since my ankle has been “traumatized”, my brain was telling it to alter the way I walk, and ultimately the way my glute fired, in order to prevent myself from hurting…myself. By opening up the damaged joint and massaging the cutaneous nerve, he was basically telling my brain to just relax, everything’s going to be ok. The best analogy I can come up with for this is a river and a hydro-dam. Think of the electrical pulses sent by your nerves and brain as the water, and the trauma is the hydro-dam. When the dam is closed, the water can’t get to the other side and nourish the starving fish. Once the dam opens up though, the water is free to flow once again and the river’s ecosystem is back to normal. Basically, by him massaging my ankle, he was opening the damn and allowing the electric pulses to flow through my ankle and return to my brain saying that everything is normal (as normal as my brain can get) thereby allowing my glute to fire instead of cowering in a corner. He then showed me an exercise I can do to have this same effect without needing someone else to give me a massage. I would try to explain it, but it would take more than what I’ve already written….and I have much more to go.
Anyways, enough talking about stuff I don’t fully understand. Let’s get to the cool stuff. His garage. I wish I would have taken a picture of it because it is just about everything a garage should be, sans vehicles. He had a power rack, a couple olympic bars, a neutral grip bar, trap bar, bands, chains, ropes, tire sled, big ass tire (that’s just a really big ass tire), and enough kettlebells to never get bored. Here’s the thing I was most excited about though, he also had chalk. Oh glorious, glorious chalk. If you’ve never lifted with chalk, which I’m sure 80% of you never have or probably ever will because it’s not allowed in commercial gyms, you really have no idea what you’re missing. On top of that, he had BASS (Big Ass Stereo System – I just made that up) and a whole shelving unit devoted to outdoor sports. When I buy another house, the garage and/or basement will look like that.
By now you may be wondering if I even worked out or just walked around like a kid in a candy shop the whole time. Fact of the matter is, I did workout! Not only that, but I got to try out my new FlipCam. Some (or most) of you have already seen the vids via Twitter or Facebook, but just in case you haven’t watched them yet, here they are again:
In-between those, I did about a-bajillion kettlebell swings. Not because I wanted to, but because I was learning how to do them. What did I get in return? A sore ass and some bruised forearms. Oh well. It was all done in the name of being awesome. Needless to say, I succeeded.
After that, Mike and I managed to BS for the next 2 hours about fitness, nutrition, competing, business, and more Z-health. He did one more demonstration on me. He had me get down in a sit-up position. Already I was thinking, “Oh God, why can’t you just have me do something where I can show you how strong I am? I frickin’ suck at sit-ups, always have.” Then he tells me to sit up to a 45 degree angle. That alone was a feat in and of itself. Then, the A-hole (I’m being nice, we all know I wanted to say asshole…well, guess I just did, tee hee) pushes on my forehead and down I go. He was extremely impressed. And by impressed, I mean not impressed. In fact, I believe he might have “accidentally” laughed. (You see why I called him an a-hole?) After he caught his composure, he had me lie on my back again and this time massaged my scalp. Makes perfect sense right? Massage an ankle, gain a glute. Massage a head (ON YOUR SHOULDERS), gain….abs?? Well, after my massage was over, he had me do it again. I still had trouble getting up to the 45 degrees, but once I was there, I think he had 95% of his body weight on me, and I wouldn’t move. Ca-raziness stuff right thur. He started throwing out big words and nerve names and all that jazz again, but I’m not nearly as familiar with those so I was almost completely lost. I just did what I do everyday at work, smile and nod my head. Guess what, it worked on him just as much as it works on my boss. Ha ha ha ha! Sucka!!
All kidding aside. Mike is a professional in every sense of the word. You don’t get your PhD by sitting at home and writing childish stories on the internet. You don’t become friends on a first name basis with some of the top people in the industry by only being a research junkie. Not only that, but he whole-heartedly believes in Z-health. Besides the funky joint and nerve manipulations, he does a lot with athletic movement. He feels that’s even more important than what you do in the gym. Just because someone can go into the gym in the off-season and increase all their lifts by 10, 15, 20%, whatever, does not necessarily make them a better athlete if they’ve just inhibited the way they move and can no longer perform. Everything, as he explains, has a cost/benefit relationship.
Thanks again for inviting me! It was definitely a positive eye-opener!
Once again, here is all of Mike’s information. I suggest you read, follow, friend, subscribe, buy a Z-health session, whatever. Just do one or all of them.
Mike Nelson, PhD(c), CSCS
Extreme Human Performance
Follow on Twitter
Friend on Facebook
Email: Well, I have his email, but I can’t find it on his site so I don’t know if he wants you to have it. Now I’m cooler than you….again.