La Vie®: Expert Series Launches with an NFL Running Back

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Posted August 14, 2013 by Scott Kearnan in Downtown Boston
Abdul-Karim SCLA

It’s not often you get to hit the gym with a record-setting NFL player. And frankly, it could be an intimidating prospect. Do you really want to share a bench press with someone whose bicep is bigger than your skull?

Luckily, there was no workout involved when Abdul-Karim al-Jabbar stopped by Sports Club/LA, (downtown next to the Ritz-Carlton) on Thursday, August 1. The former Miami Dolphins running back wasn’t there to lead a class but to host the first installment of the Expert Series, one of eight programs that comprise La Vie®, a Millennium Partners social experience. Millennium Partners is the luxury property developer currently building Millennium Place downtown at the corner of Avery and Washington Street. The program is exclusive to Millennium residents. al-Jabbar now works as a personal trainer at Sports Club/LA’s location in Washington, DC. While in Boston, he traded gym gear for khakis and a button-down shirt. (Sweet! That meant no pull-ups.) He spoke about a subject that’s especially important to him: sports injury prevention.

The crowd of football and fitness fanatics in attendance knew that al-Jabbar has a lot of first-hand knowledge on the topic. Aside from being a trainer, he’s experienced the physical and emotional toll of injuries himself: He has been through a total of eight surgeries, and admitted that if he could have done anything differently in his career, it would be fully adopting all the preventative and rehab instructions he received over the years.

Beyond the G.A.M.E.

After mingling with neighbors over light hors d’oeuvres, Karim delivered a riveting presentation and Q&A on sports fitness and injury prevention. Photo courtesy of Millennium Place.

In other words, it’s best we listen up.

Before launching into advice on injury prevention, al-Jabbar ran through a quick motivational discussion: “Go Beyond the G.A.M.E.,” which introduced the first of a few acronyms he would use, he joked. Al-Jabbar admitted to being nervous addressing the crowd, but he didn’t need to be. He was charming and warm—particularly when he broke free of his PowerPoint prompts and chatted off the cuff.

The letters stood for “Gratitude, Attitude, Motivation, and Education,” which al-Jabbar considers central to maintaining a healthy outlook and, by extension, a healthy body. Al-Jabbar was told after one surgery that he wouldn’t be able to play football beyond high school. With his “G.A.M.E.” plan, however, he proved doubters (and doctors) wrong—really wrong, in fact. He led the NFL in total rushing touchdowns in 1997.

And yes, there were injuries along the way. So al-Jabbar shared with the crowd what he had learned about injury prevention. He doled out advice on office-friendly exercises for the neck and shoulders (especially vital for those of us with work that keeps us glued to a computer) and explained the interconnectedness of the body—how over- or under-exercising a muscle in one spot could lead to an injury somewhere else.

The key, it became clear, was conscientiousness and balance in all things. Along the way, al-Jabbar dropped an array of factoids. Some examples:

  • Ever wonder if your handbag or backpack really is too heavy? Hint: It shouldn’t exceed 10 percent of your body weight.
  • It’s tempting, but don’t skip leg day at the gym. The gluteus maximus is the single largest muscle in the body, and one of the strongest. Working your lower half helps power the rest of you.
  • A day at the gym is great, but a day at the spa can help, too. Massage therapy can help reduce muscle adhesions (a.k.a knots), which limit range of motion and increase risk of further injury.
  • To test your shoulder flexibility (important for preventing injury), stand with your back flat to a wall. Lift your arms up. You should be able to lift your hands above your head, palms facing each other, and touch your thumbs to the wall. Lower them back and press your elbows to the wall. Bending at the elbows, try to touch the back of your hands to the wall while maintaining a 90 degree angle between your upper arm and forearm (like you’re signaling a touchdown). If these are tough, try them every day until you loosen up.

By the end of this first Expert Series installment, La Vie guests left with good information and, more importantly, motivation. Of course, a trainer can only give you tools. He can’t force you to use them.

That’s okay. It’s easier to be inspired when you’ve already got G.A.M.E.

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