One of our main programs here at EST is goals based programming. For a lot of people that might mean weight loss, improved health, or body sculpting. However we are a nerd gym, and we have nerd clients, with nerd goals. So how, and why, do we program for those goals? We use sport specific training just like an athlete would. For this article I'm going to use the examples of baseball and esports and compare how their training really is the same.
For sports or nerd goals you want to focus on two forms of training; skills and strength and conditioning. Skills are going to be the specific things you are going to use during a game. For baseball your skills focusing are going to be on running, catching, throwing, as well as learning your teams plays and strategies. For Esports and gaming your skills training is going to be reflexes, hand dexterity, hand eye coordination, and game play strategies. For strength and conditioning your looking to improve your general athletics, so that can execute your skills better. You also want to work the areas around and supporting what you use for skills training but in a different and/or corrective way. For example a catcher isn't going to do tons of squats on their strength and conditioning day because it's all they'll be doing on their skills and game day. A gamer who stares at a screen for his game is not going to want to use screen based drills or they may impair their vision on game day. That is the basics of sports specific training. Your looking to improve the skills most directly associated with your hobby, and the general conditioning and strength to execute those skills well.
Now that we have an understanding of sports specific training how do we apply that to our hobbies. First thing you want to do is figure out what your goal is, and be clear and specific. Derek Jeter didn't just want to “be good and baseball.” He wanted to be the best hitter, that was his main focus. He focused on baserunning and fielding as part of his skills training. He also took on a position of leadership, this is also part of his skills training and play. These are all skills that he focused on developing in his training. So the first thing you have to ask yourself is what are your goals. If we go back to gaming; do you want a better kill to death ratio? Would clicks per minute up your game? Do you need to get better at reading the map or spotting enemies? Do you want to follow plot points and solve puzzles better? Figure out what your specific goals are and what skills you want to improve. Next set up a training program and schedule around those skills. This is going to mean playing the game but not necessarily in a fun way. Go into a practice mode or replay earlier levels looking not to win or rack up a high score but to work on one skill. If you want to get better at being sneaky and finding cover, play with no weapons and just see how long you can survive. This is going to be super frustrating and take a lot of fun out of the game, you will die…a lot, but you will also get better, it will help you to focus on a specific skill. You can also use different games or skill based exercises to help you develop. Juggling for hand eye coordination or jigsaws for pattern recognition. We are using gaming here as our example but again this works for all hobbies. Once you have your skills training down it is on to your strength and conditioning.
Now this were I get a lot of push-back, this is were even gamers start to tell me that e-sports isn't really sports. I can't tell you how many time I get told that you don’t need conditioning because, gaming, LARP, DnD, cosplay, Fanfic, comic books, are all sedentary hobbies. I get it...you don't want to get on the treadmill, don't worry neither do I. However strength and conditioning can improve all of these skills. Remember strength and conditioning is putting your body in a position that it can execute the skill better. Joe Manganiello is a better D&D player then most because he has a well conditioned body. This allows his skills at role playing, puzzle solving, and basic arithmetic to come through. He has the energy, focus, posture, to play the game because he is well conditioned. Olympic level archers have talked about know they will win over someone who is less conditioned then them not because they are the superior archer but because in the moment their conditioning will help them deal with elevated heart rate, stress, energy, and focus, and their skills training can shine through. Now again I don't need you to jump on a treadmill or being looking to get abs like Joe. For your own strength and conditioning look at what gives out first in your hobby, what is sore the next day, when do you lose focus and why. You want to build your conditioning programming around that. If you lose focus every time the battle gets intense and your heart rate spike then work on sprint style drills that spike your heart rate so you get comfortable there. If you have to stop because your hands cramp up then maybe you need to work on some grip recovery work. Remember just like the catcher doesn't squat, you want to do stuff that strengthens your weak spots without overworking those movement patterns.
Ok now for the mushy wellness, let’s be happy and healthy part. As you work on these skill and training you may find that it’s a way to work in some healthy habits into your life. It might even making them a part of your everyday habits more then an awful chore you don’t want to do. Much like when we pick up a new hobby, start getting better at it, and slowly start you make it a part of our everyday life. Adding skills training can both enhance that and making different healthy habits a part of your everyday life. As always if you find yourself lost, or don't know how or where to start please reachout, we are here to be that reacorse for you