Authors: Tim Livingston and Charlie Rowe (Edited by Greg Mack)

Recently, Netflix featured a film from our youth: The Money Pit. It’s an entertaining and funny movie starring Tom Hanks and Shelley Long. It’s about a young couple that invests into, what they think is, the house of their dreams. Shortly after moving in the house ends up falling apart and costing them a fortune.  The beautiful rounding staircase collapses, there are issues with the plumbing, the electrical system catches fire and causes all sorts of damage to the kitchen, and the upstairs bathtub crashes through the floor as the water simply touches it!  Tom Hanks’ character at one-point screams out in frustration that he has fallen victim to a money pit! Does your body feel ever that way?  

Have you ever sneezed and pulled a back muscle? Or felt a sharp pain in your shoulder reaching into the back seat to get a small bag? Or tweaked your knee just going up the stairs? 

Do you feel stuck in the never-ending process of paying for an array of doctors, therapists, trainers, and pharmacists to try and alleviate your pain and suffering? Especially when it really does not seem to be getting better? Your body has you in a money pit! 

At one time the combined aches, pains, traumas, and surgeries of the authors (Tim and Charlie) included pain in many areas: hip, knee, foot, low back, shoulder, elbow, wrist, fingers, and the neck. We invested time, energy, and, of course money, to try and get relief. And we are in the health and fitness business trying to be the bastions of good health! 

Moving into a new home, your dream home, and having it fall apart on you can be a nightmare. The expenses add up and can cause all sorts of stress. In our humble opinion, having your body fall apart on you is even worse. It costs you your quality of life. 

Imagine if Tom Hanks and Shelley Long had a house inspector come in and take a survey of all the potential problems. He or she would have to do some diagnostic tests to assess the electrical system, the plumbing system, and the house’s structural stability. The inspector would probably take into the account the history of the house. How old is the house? Had the house been in any fires or hurricanes? Had the house ever had leaks or water damage? Was the house in a location that was vulnerable to any natural disasters? Also, what is the potential of the house? Would it be a good house for an addition, or to take structures out? Would you be able to modify it?

A knowledgeable and competent house inspector would be able to help answer these questions before any financial risk was undertaken so that moving in would be fun and exciting. The new owners could use the house for their daily needs and make it a home where they feel secure. A well-built and maintained house will protect them for bad weather and be a sanctuary for escaping the vicissitudes of life. 

What makes great comedy is the kernels of truth in the story. We suspect that the movie The Money Pit would not be as funny if Tom and Shelley’s characters had all this information up front! It certainly isn’t funny when your body hurts and you can’t enjoy the life you want to lead. 

The truth is that living in your body is much like living in a house. You need a good foundation, an up to date electrical system, a well-constructed plumbing system, and good insulation. Your body needs a good foundation of muscle function, joint health, and the ability to control itself when navigating the tresses and strains of daily life. 

Physical exercise can be used to build and maintain a great body and the high quality of life a healthy and strong body provides. Unfortunately, it is assumed that all types of physical exercise is healthy and will contribute to building and maintaining your body. 

Considering exercise, how often do you make choices about what you should and shouldn’t do without having an exercise professional gather any information about you to help ensure that you are making a good investment and not creating problems and committing your body to a money pit?  

We wish that we could tell you that all exercise was equivalent and beneficial, and that no matter what exercise process you choose it will benefit you.  

Unfortunately we cannot.

Even with exercise that might seem simple and easy to do! 

Do these statements sound familiar…?               

“My knee hurts when I run.”               

“I did Deadlifts and Squats and now my low-back is stiff and sore.”               

“There is a burning sensation in my arm when I do pressing exercises.” 

That is similar to Shelley Long hanging a single clothing item on her closet hanger and the hanger, along with the rest of the shelving in the closet, falls down. Sometimes it’s a lot worse.               

“My knee was hurting when I ran and now I can hardly walk.”              

“I did Deadlifts and Squats and now my back has locked up and I can’t move.”   

“There was a burning sensation in my shoulder while I was doing pressing exercises and now I can’t lift my arm over my head.” 

This is like when Tom Hanks finds out the stairs are not stable when he has to jump from them as they are collapsing underneath his feet!!! 

As Certified Muscle System Specialists we are like the house inspectors, able to assess your body and find where the risks are to help you avoid the cost of them when things go wrong. How do we do this?  We start by doing a thorough interview process. What are your goals? What’s your current health and health history? How many injuries have you had? Have you had any surgeries?  All the answers to these questions are vital in determining your risks and capabilities. Only then can we create your unique, and strategic, exercise plan based on custom exercises created and built just for you. 

If both you and your Certified Muscle System Specialist decide that it makes sense to work together and start building a strong healthy body, then the next step is to initiate the initial physical assessment process. During this process we will look at your various systems to see how well they are working. A big part of the initial assessment process is discovering where you move well and, more importantly, where you don’t move well. We need to find out how well all of your muscles and joints are working. You may find it surprising that only one knee can bend to a certain degree of motion while the other one is more flexible. That is good to know before you go for a run, potentially injure your knee, and possibly have trouble walking afterwards.  

We will have you actively bend forward and assess the compensation in your body and show and explain it to you so you understand that the dead lift you were going to do may have some high risk and break something in you. We have you move one arm over your head, and then the other, and see that they don’t work the same. You may wonder why one arm doesn’t feel like the other. This is good to know before you engage in a pressing exercise and you suddenly feel a burning sensation in your shoulder. The initial assessment process is a better way to be responsible, and create exercise strategies that will move you forward with your health goals, in a strategic way based on your unique muscle and joint needs. It is an important discovery process. 

With all of the information collected, we are able to determine your best starting point. Starting at the right place really matters as it sets the direction. We can make better decisions about that direction and take you to your health goals based on specific and logical reasons. Many of these reasons you may have not even realized!  

We can then leverage specific exercises to help improve your muscles and joints where they need extra attention. Your Certified Muscle System Specialist will use different resistances and techniques that are more appropriate for the current capabilities of your joints and muscles.

Working to get your muscles and joints to work well enhances your chances to get the most out of your body, protect you from injury so the next time you go up the stairs, reach into the back seat, or sneeze, the chances of injuring yourself and avoid the money pit associated with injury, soreness, and pain. 

It’s considered sound analysis and advice to get a qualified and experienced inspector before investing in something as complicated as a house. Similarly, a Certified Muscle System Specialist can evaluate your muscle and joint system prior to doing just any old exercise program to help you build and maintain a strong, resilient, and healthy body that will last you a lifetime!  

    If you're interested in learning more about how a Certified Muscle System Specialist™ can help you move better,  feel better, and live better, click here.

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    If you're an exercise professional who is interested in learning more about how to become a Certified Muscle System Specialist, visit us at