The 5 Ps for Principles of Exercise Design
By:  Dr. Gregory Keyes PhD

This information is from Dr. Keyes’ eLearning continuing education course:
Beauty and the Beast: Considerations for Exercise Demonstration and Prescription  See the full course to learn more.  This course includes several video tutorials by Dr. Keyes.



See Introduction Video


What is the PURPOSE of the exercise?
Simply it is a means to wellness and fitness that leads to an improved quality of life.

This is achieved by consistency of movement, the everyday actions that do great things for you physically, mentally, and emotionally. Studies consistently continue to amplify the health benefits of exercise in virtually any form as long as extreme overload is not amplified.

Benefits include:

  1. Lessening risk of getting diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, breast and colon cancer, risk factors associated with weight gain, etc, etc, etc.
  2. Exercise helps balance cholesterol levels, helps manage hypertension / depression, ease constipation, and simply can give you a sense of euphoria.
  3. It can increase muscle mass, metabolism and your energy levels.

If you have watched television programs such as "The Biggest Loser" a segment of such clearly demonstrates how exercise can “turn back the clock of your aging process”, because it affects the DNA associated with aging.

Exercise boosts the functions of various parts of the brain due to the increased chemicals created. This increased function can benefit decision making, problem solving, focus and once again I will mention Euphoria or that sense of wellness one feels but often can't explain.
This is just a snapshot of the purpose of exercise and a fraction of the benefits of such!

See Tutorial Video


Position or Posture
What is the proper POSITION or POSTURE in which to perform the exercise?
Is the body properly aligned? (i.e. core control, shoulder, hip position)
Does it maximize the use of resistance? (i.e. the PULL and/or the resistance of gravity)

Posture refers to the positioning, or alignment, of the various parts of the body in relation to one another. Correct body positioning and alignment are perhaps the most important considerations in preventing many of the problems that develop from aging and the stresses of work.

Proper posture helps prevent:

  1. fatigue
  2. headache
  3. eye strain
  4. chronic muscular tension

Correct posture can help improve:

  1. circulation
  2. digestion
  3. sleep
  4. prevent cramping of internal organs

Correct postural alignment can:

  1. enhance self-image
  2. clear the mind
  3. contribute to sharper senses

Perhaps most important to all of us as health-fitness professionals, in addition to contributing to healthier emotional states and overall vitality, good posture can make exercise more enjoyable, improve general fitness and enhance performance. Simply put, proper posture can improve your Quality of Life.

See Tutorial Video


What is the appropriate PROGRESSION?
How can the difficulty and intensity be increased or decreased?

Progression is taking a movement and using different methods of exercise technique to increase muscle and/or cardiorespiratory intensity to cause overload, which in turn increases the level of function and fitness. A quick example in land exercise would be to progress a jumping jack by adding higher jumps and forms of plyometric actions to increase intensity. In Aquatics you could progress a jack by scooping more water with the hands and raising the knees on the in and out to increase intensity.

With a little thought virtually all movements can be safely progressed to increase the intensity of a class or training. In addition, progression adds variety through your teaching techniques and exercise choices.

See Tutorial Video


What is the appropriate POPULATION?
For whom is this exercise appropriate and how can it be modified to accommodate a variety of fitness levels?

There is a plethora of different Special Populations; pregnant, amputee, older adult, osteo, neurological, diabetic, cardiac, physically or mentally challenged, overweight, children...the list is endless. You are likely to work with many different types of clients as a health-fitness professional and as a result you are expected to know and adapt your exercise and movement prescription to suit such.

Often in one class or small group you can have multiple Special Populations. As a result you need to always screen your clients before every session to be aware of any special needs. Then you will assist these individuals to do movement appropriate to their special needs that doesn't cause harm, impede their natural abilities, or contradict requirements their medical specialists have requested.

See Tutorial Video


What is the appropriate PRESCRIPTION?
How can I design and present the exercise so it is effective, safe and easy to learn.

Exercise prescription involves asking your client to perform movements and exercises to accomplish a purpose or goal. This links with the previous topic of Population consideration when demonstrating and adapting any exercise and how it can and does affect the target muscles, joints, impact, etc. Rule of thumb is simply to prescribe in accordance with what is tried, tested and generally approved by the health-fitness industry over-all. Sometimes by trying to be a little too creative and unique you can in turn become contraindicated or prescribe questionably. If you cause injury to your client you can be held responsible and face repercussions legally. So simply err on the side of caution, rather than being too adventurous and risky. This also means that you must be well educated and remain updated on industry standards and recommendations. Remember too that there are “fad” programs that have not been designed in accordance with industry standards and it is your responsibility to be able to decipher the “beauty from the beast” and to prescribe within safe and effective parameters.

With any type of Exercise program, whether Aquatic or Land based, there should be a good balance of exercise prescription that conditions and develops to maximum effect Cardio and Muscular improvement of the Body to peak performance levels. This is no different to the Tune Up and Services of your Motor Vehicle for the same reasons. Thus one of the reasons I have likened the Human Body to the Motor Vehicle.

With so much commercializing of the 21st Century image of the Body Beautiful design, an over emphasis is on Diet and Cardiorespiratory Exercise. There is far less emphasis on the needs of equally balancing Muscular development for Strength, Endurance and Toning with Nutrition knowledge and Cardiorespiratory conditioning.

See Tutorial Video


About the Author:
Dr. Gregory Keyes has been involved in multiple vocations simultaneously for the past 25 years since leaving the Australian Army and State Police Force of Victoria where he previously served both as an active officer and member of the Public Relations division for 16 years.  He entered the Entertainment Industry and performed in over 20 Australian Television Programs and various Films and Mini-Series.

In 1994 he became involved in the exercise science industry initially in land aerobics / personal training and found a great interest in aquatic exercise. Due to his theatrical and public speaking experience, he quickly became a presenter and developer in the fitness industry using his unique skills of performance techniques, and quickly became well known across the world at the major fitness conventions for his unique style. He is and has been a continuing education provider for various organizations in USA, Australia, New Zealand and other countries.

September 26, 2014
By: June Chewning
Fitness Learning Systems
513 367-1251