The Clock is Here to Serve You
Written by TJ O’Brien

I want to share a story about my wife’s experience at a yoga class, and soon we’ll get to my main point: The clock is the most underutilized tool in the gym. 

A few weeks ago my wife, Marcella, started going to a yoga studio down the street. This sparked lots of conversation about what instructors she likes and why she likes their particular style.

During the particular class she was telling me about, Marcella shared that the instructor, Rachel, told them to grab a couple of blocks before class, in order to make some of the poses more comfortable.

Marcella is pretty flexible, so she didn’t grab the blocks. Her reasoning, she told me, was, “I don’t really need the extra support, and I want it to be tough so I get the most benefit out of it.”

During the next class, a different instructor named Matt, asked the class to grab some blocks and a bolster for some of the poses. This time, though, yoga-guy Matt said this magical phrase which will be the basis of this email:

“The blocks are here to serve you.”

Now look, Marcella knows the whole deal with modifying and scaling in order to get the most benefit. Do recall that she is married to me and has been forced to hear all about how we endorse modifying workouts a number of times. And conceptually, she’s down with it.

But it wasn’t until she heard the phrase, “The blocks are here to serve you,” that she used the extra support. She said it made a big difference in the way she felt the stretches that day.

What was the root of that subtle shift in attitude? My guess is the emphasis on the role of the blocks, not on the lack of flexibility of the person using them.

What’s this got to do with you?

We don’t use yoga blocks very much, but we’ve got so many tools at our disposal for you to use that you could easily sub out “yoga blocks” for “sandbags” or “dumbbells,” or “sleds.” All of these tools are here to serve you.

And the least utilized and oftentimes very important tool: the clock.

I see this most in Muscle class, but it happens in the strength portion of Performance and Fitness class, too. Take the following example and ask yourself, “Do I actually time my rest periods?” 

Three sets of:
Bulgarian Split Squats x 8-10 reps each leg @ 3011
Rest 45 seconds after each leg

Followed by…

Bent-Over Supinated-Grip Barbell Row x 8 reps @ 211
Rest 45 seconds
Nose-to-Wall Handstand Hold x 45-60 seconds
Rest 45 second

Resting 30 seconds instead of 45 seconds really does become a factor in the way you’ll be able to execute the movements. So, let’s keep it simple and channel Matt, the yoga guy. Keep track of your rest periods because just like sandbags, sleds, or dumbbells…

“The clock is here to serve you.”

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