A Coach’s Perspective: The Top Two (Surprising) Performance Inhibitors


As a coach, I’ve seen quite a number of people embark on their fitness journeys. Many of them lack experience, have historically been unable to show commitment, have health issues and so on and so forth. It’s in observing all these different folks that I’ve come to realize that there are two (in my opinion) performance-inhibiting traits that outweigh them all — and they might surprise you.

My reason for bringing this up, believe it or not, is a positive one. I’m not here to rag on those that fall into either of these two categories. Rather, I’d like to increase the importance of each in our minds. Doing so would be a critical step in improving performance and fitness for tons of folks looking to do just that.

First and foremost, a lack of mobility is the ultimate glass ceiling, in my opinion. Improving range of motion may be, along with strength, one of the longest, most tedious journeys out there. And many men and women need it.

The ability to find certain body positions is paramount to move through space and to move external loads well. Without the ability to do so, athletes are taking a knife to a gun fight and will lose to their flexible, gun-wielding competition eight days a week.

The second one I see is arguably those most unassuming of the two. Though we all know smoking is bad for us and that it surely has a negative impact on fitness potential, I don’t think we know exactly how bad it is. In my experience, students with more than 100 pounds of excess body fat don’t pale in comparison to the capacity challenges that even closet smokers have. That first warm-up jog can put a smoker out of commission for the entire day. I’ve even seen PVC shoulder mobilizations put a smoker on the sidelines. Furthermore, these athletes are constantly battling the inverse relationship between the work put in and the (lack of) results coming out.

Rather than make this about smoking, I’d rather focus on capacity. Think about being an able-bodied human being who would shut down from a stimulus as light as a jog to the end of the block and back or the minuscule exertion of some PVC pass-throughs. YIKES!

Within that context, it doesn’t matter what the habit is. It’s sad. It’s unfortunate, at the very least. Which, on the flip side, goes to show that what we are capable of enduring and ignoring throughout our normal day is incredible. Many of us are living day in and day out with no real idea of how bad it is.

Consider your fitness in the context of survival. Now, as a thought experiment, picture a world with no roads, no grocery stores, no cell phones and no shelter. Half the country wouldn’t survive a week. Which half are you in?

— Logan Gelbrich