Beware of Aunt Sally and her straw men

Posted on September 7, 2012. Filed under: Misc | Tags: , , , , |

For those unfamiliar a straw man is essentially a type of argument where a person attempts to win an argument by misrepresenting another’s position.  You create the illusion of having refuted a person’s point or statement by replacing it with a superficially similar yet un-equivalent proposition (the “straw man”), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.  In the UK I am told they call it an Aunt Sally.


You can see this happen often in politics, corporate commercialism, and big time in the fitness industry.


Personally I believe majority of time in the fitness industry it is done accidentally.  One becomes so engrossed in their found philosophy or method that disregards basic principles.  I find this happens most often between those who advocate basic weight lifting and those advocate a more “functional form” of exercise (yoga, pilates, some form of dance).


Side Note:  Weight Lifting is functional training.  It only becomes dysfunctional when you do it incorrectly.  I have yet to have a client who does not only improve in aesthetics and strength.  But also range of motion, posture, flexibility, etc.  On more than one occasion some has told me my coaching improved their yoga.


As an example I will use an article written by someone calling themselves, a dancer, strength coach, and fitness educator.  But don’t mention any form of certification or education.  Not that the type of certification is that important.  It is however one of the few ways available to see if person giving fitness advice has taken some time to study their field.  It also makes it possible to check whether they are actually certified.  Any way to their quote:

“Exercise science even has an often repeated and just as often misinterpreted rule called the law of specificity.  The exercise, you see, is the important thing. It’s up to you the exerciser to conform to its rules. Seen another way, certain exercises are just; well, just better than others. I might say that a leg press is inferior to a squat. A push-up is superior to a press. “


Now in fact exercise science says no such thing, in fact it says the opposite.  And only those who don’t understand this rule say such things.


If you want to advocate your method, that is fine.  I hope you help millions of people.  But you do no one a justice by misrepresenting the other side of things to further your own gains.


OK, done ranting.


Keep Fitness Groovy,

Coach W

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