Sunday, March 3, 2013

Indian Clubs: The missing piece in your work out puzzle

Dr. Ed. Thomas and Marty Covault

I’d like to share with you the results of a seminar that has changed the way I train.  As personal trainer, I like to have multiple approaches. When learning the teaching skills of a new tool, I always seek out the best masters so I can bring top quality to my clients.  For club swinging, that means Dr. Ed Thomas, who is one of the most innovative practitioners of this training modality.  Dr. Thomas covered in our certification both the German Turnvereine and classical Indian club methods. He also taught us how to properly use different techniques of the inversion table. I can’t wait to share this work with you, my clients.

What are Indian clubs and what can they do for you?

Indian clubs is an ancient art that is at least 5000 years old. They are for the shoulder girdle what kettlebells are for the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex. 

The shoulder girdle is one of the most movable areas of the body, which makes it the most vulnerable to injury. Conventional weight training inhibits shoulder girdle mobility and creates muscle imbalances that result in injury. In the long run this will require time away from training, changes in your life-style, and may even end an athletic career.

When you lift weights in a traditional manner, you lift them in a straight line. Yet the body is designed to move in all planes of motion. Unlike conventional weight training, Indian club movements are multi-dimensional. The circular patterns of Indian club exercises can be described as circular weight training.  It moves and strengthens the joints of the wrist, elbow and shoulder in ways not possible with traditional weight training.

They’re fun, portable and inexpensive too. Here’s a list of the benefits that Indian club training provides:

• Assists rehabilitation from shoulder injury
• Releases tension from the shoulders
• Develops finger dexterity, grip and forearm strength
• Improves Coordination
• Develops natural shoulder girdle mobility
• Enhances neural plasticity and brain function
• Increases dynamic flexibility
• Strengthens the muscles, ligaments and joints of the back and shoulders
• Restores and repositions the location of the shoulder girdle making it mobile 
• Speeds recovery from surgery
• Improves postural awareness
• Develops circular strength, and as a result, functional muscle mass

Everyone benefits from Indian clubs – Everyone:

  • Older adults: The shoulder girdle tends to get rounded as we age. Club swinging counter-balances this issue, re-positioning the shoulder girdle to where it belongs. This keeps the shoulders mobile and efficient.

  • Computer workers, massage therapists, drivers, physicians: Those who are forced to work with rounded shoulders, flexed upper back and a forward head position will sooner or later experience movement restriction and pain. Club swinging counteracts these daily postural occupations by repositioning the shoulder girdle to where it belongs, restoring mobility to its full range of motion.

  • Kids: From a very early age kids are forced to sit in classrooms for long hours with slouched shoulders and a flexed upper back. Introducing kids to Indian clubs will engage their mind and body, restoring their daily postural misalignment while keeping them physically active.

  • Police officers/military:  When shooting a firearm one must hold the weapon away from the body. The leverage of the heavier firearm in the out stretched arm is one challenge of aiming a gun. Shooting a gun for a period of time, besides requiring serious wrist stability, also requires strength of grip, forearm and shoulder.  The same goes when swinging Indian Clubs. When swinging an Indian club you have to hold it away from the body.  Because the Indian club has the weight at the end of the handle, swinging it promotes tremendous strength in the forearms, hands and shoulders. Most Indian club movement patterns demand a wrist that is stable in a neutral position while keeping a tight grip so they don’t fly out of your hands mid-swing. These movement patterns build tremendous wrist stability and major grip strength. Also, swinging the light clubs develops keen finger dexterity for shooting firearms.  This is why in the 90s, Dr. Thomas re-introduced Indian club swinging to the physical training regimen of the US Army.  During the Victorian era soldiers from all over Europe trained with Indian clubs and in the US, Army soldiers trained with Indian clubs through the 1930s.

How to get started

Indian clubs are affordable – training can start with a single pair of one-pound clubs.

Beginners should purchase a combo set that comes with a basic instructional DVD here. Contact me when you are ready for personalized instruction along with a customized program designed to address your specific needs. As a strength athlete for over 30 years, I give you my word that your time training with Indian clubs will be as wisely invested as mine.