Trainer Jim O’Hagan of Core Dynamics Studio in Water Mill, at the studio.
By Emily J. Weitz
From all outside appearances, Core Dynamics is a gym. It has all the familiar equipment: machines, weights, mats. It has members who sign up for monthly memberships and come to work out at their own pace. But the thing that makes Core Dynamics different from your standard gym is its focus on empowering people to learn how to work out in the way that is right for them. You don’t just join and do what you’ve always done, necessarily.
There are a couple of strategies at Core Dynamics that encourage clients to pursue a personalized wellness plan. First of all, every person who joins Core Dynamics starts with a session with a trainer, included in their membership.
“It’s a functional movement screen,” explains Jim O’Hagan, founder of Core Dynamics. “Most people don’t move very well. By watching the way someone moves, you can identify so much of what’s going on with them. So we start with the screen and we develop a personalized program based on that.”
Often, O’Hagan says, people do general warm-ups that they’ve picked up along the way.
“We teach people that they need to prepare their bodies personally for exercise,” he says. “We target functions or limitations specifically.”
In his experience, O’Hagan has found that stability issues are often at the root of people’s limitations. This is where the idea of the core comes into play in a big way.
“There are times when people can’t touch their toes,” he says, “and they assume it’s a hamstring inflexibility. But eight times out of 10 it’s a core weakness or instability.”
When the core is not strong enough to support the body’s forward bend, he explains, that’s when the hamstrings will step in and try to compensate, tightening up. By focusing on strengthening and stabilizing from the core, people will often find greater flexibility and range of motion.
Another offering at Core Dynamics that helps clients achieve long-term wellness is the 28-day Fit Tracks program. This intensive month-long program is an education that, O’Hagan hopes, will serve the client for a lifetime.
“We’re trying to empower people to learn what’s necessary and what works to get them in shape and keep them fit and lean for the rest of their lives,” he says. “Not by falling into the trap of fad diets and fad exercise program. It always comes back to implementing the basics properly, progressively and consistently. They can try any fitness program out there but if it isn’t something they can sustain, it’s not going to work.”
So what exactly are the basics?
According to Fit Tracks, it’s pretty simple: nutrition and exercise work hand in hand to help people achieve their goals.
“Fit Tracks targets the audience that wants to learn what we’re doing as trainers to get the most results,” explains O’Hagan.
Over the course of the month, participants take three hour-long classes per week that include lectures and hands-on coaching in small groups. In the first week, they learn about nutrition, in the second week strength training, anaerobic and aerobic training in the third week, and in the final week, they bring it all together.
When asked how these techniques work together to help clients achieve wellness, O’Hagan responds with a question.
“How do they not?” he asks. “You can get great results on dieting alone if you’re just trying to get skinny. But if you’re looking to build muscle and get a lean, strong physique, then you need to work out. For long-term physical transformation, you need to learn how to increase your metabolism rather than lower it.”
He worries that too many people focus on the number on the scale instead of the body composition.
“It’s not just dropping pounds but increasing lean body mass,” says O’Hagan.
In the Fit Tracks program, clients will learn about eating right (and that means eating healthy proteins and fats) and exercising well. The two need to be in balance, notes O’Hagan.
“If you’re losing weight and not increasing lean body mass,” he says, “you’re putting yourself in a more difficult situation to keep the weight off. By working out, you can eat more and stay lean. A good diet is what is going to determine whether your body is burning fat, burning muscle, or building muscle.”
Fit Tracks is available to members of Core Dynamics for $749 and non-members for $849. With the program, a month-long membership is included. To learn more, go to www.coredynamicsgym.com. Core Dynamics Health and Fitness, 58 Deerfield Road, Water Mill (631) 726-6049.