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Charlie Martin, Late-Blooming Athlete: Week 3 -- Yoga, Without the Yoga

Charlie Martin wants to get fit, and balance and mobility are elements of fitness. Yoga and Pilates can help in this regard, but they are inefficient, time-consuming, and are not designed with the goal of fitness in mind.

Humans are built to raise and lower their center of gravity, sometimes while carrying things. How much mobility and balance does Charlie need? How does he know when he is mobile and balanced “enough”?

The beautiful answer: Charlie will have enough mobility and balance when he can raise and lower his center of gravity while he is carrying things.

He doesn’t need to be able to get completely flat in Pigeon Pose; he needs to be able to do this:

And, this:

Humans need to be able to Front Squat and Overhead Squat. The best way to get there? Work on your Front Squat and Overhead Squat.

An amazing fact that may win Charlie over to Crossfit, as it did me: you will get better at yoga and Pilates by doing Front Squats and Overhead Squats, even if you do not do yoga and Pilates at all.

Whereas the reverse -- doing yoga and Pilates to get better at squatting -- is not remotely as effective.

There are plenty of stretches and devices that can help in this regard; you will even come across some of them while participating in yoga and Pilates. However, the goal, if you want to get fit, should always be gaining enough mobility and balance to do Front Squats and Overhead Squats -- two genetically determined, functional human movements -- and not gaining enough mobility to do yoga, Pilates, splits, etc.

This example carries over to every human activity: if you get better at the basic functional movements of the human body, you will be better at everything else a human can do. You will be an athlete already, without stepping onto a practice field. Get yourself some great squat skills first, then go specialize in whatever else you love.

Think about the squat, the deadlift, and the press as the “core fitness curriculum”; the “three Rs” of your body. That Masters degree in yoga can come afterwards, and will come more easily.


Charlie has sent video of his form doing squats, deadlifts, and presses: later this week we will analyze them, and see if Charlie is ready to step up his workout intensity. There will be sweat involved, though we will honor Charlie's "no vomiting" edict.