Foundations of Fitness (The Brand X Method)

The Brand X Method™

How does TBXM™ differ from other youth programs, including the current version of the one Jeff and Mikki developed back in 2004*? In other words, why choose The Brand X Method™, either as a coach or a client? That is one of the most frequent questions we receive. The answer is tied directly to our philosophy and methodology.


The Brand X Method™ is not a fixed template that forces us to distort or ignore ideas, applications, or other information, new or old. TBXM™ continues to evolve as we continue to develop best practices in functional fitness drawn from direct experience and the scientific literature. Because continuing coach education is a key pillar of our program, we remain flexible and able to adjust our philosophy and methods to ensure that we are always doing what is best for kids.


This begins with safety. Literally. Safety is the start point for our instruction. We deemphasize range of motion and teach positions to maximize injury prevention. The result is safety in training and safety in performance. Trained this way, kids are able to flow from a safe start position through the various points of performance to a safe finish position in novel or fatigued conditions such as those encountered during sports play. Our basic progression looks like this:


Safety     Points of Performance  Range of Motion


We teach kids the points of performance of particular exercises and only after they are consistently executing those points of performance safely do we turn to achieving range of motion. For example, this principle is embodied in our squat progression:


  • Blocked squat – Feet are together and flat on floor with knees traveling laterally rather than forward. Descend with flat back and staying engaged, going only as low as feet stay flat and no lower than just below parallel.
  • Box squat – Use a box no higher than crease at back of knee. Keep calves against box, maintain flat back, and stay engaged.
  • Air squat – Standard points of safety and performance apply.


Progressions are assigned on an individual basis, and advancement depends on the consistently accurate execution of the positions.


We have spent years trying to refine and expand the current popular concept of fitness to ensure that safety (ie, health and well-being) remains the most important consideration. We have made a lot of progress, and one thing is certain, although an important indicator, power output should not be the sole measure of fitness. Such a narrow view tends to generate the kind of fixed template mentioned above, one that limits coaching development, training variability, and thus training impact on general physical preparedness and general health. We have enriched our understanding of fitness by examining it in terms of the more fundamental concept of physical literacy. We draw on Whitehead (2001) to define physical literacy as follows:


Physical literacy is the capacity to interact with the environment and is characterized by the physical competence, confidence, motivation, as well as knowledge and understanding, to pursue and master the broadest possible range of physical activities throughout a lifetime.


TBXM™ realized that deficient physical literacy in kids was a basic limiter on fitness and athleticism and thus a hazard in terms of injury risk. The ability to interact with the environment, whether we mean the physical surroundings or, in fact, other people, is most simply expressed as fundamental movement skills such as throwing, bounding, rolling, and jumping.


In addition to programming these kinds of skills, we also provide many opportunities for kids to train in all planes of movement. Interacting with the environment requires kids to move in every way that their bodies have been designed to move, and with TBXM™, kids learn how to enjoy the richest experience no matter where they find themselves—the ballfield, the mountains, or the playground.


But enhancing physical literacy does not involve just skills and drills and barbells. TBXM™ programming includes all kinds of play—free (eg, LEGO building, Frisbee toss), semi-structured (eg, obstacle course), and structured (eg, dodgeball)—which is not simply fun but a significant source of cognitive benefits vital to physical and academic activities.


The competence, confidence, and motivation that kids develop through our program fosters the necessary persistence and resilience to weather the challenges they face outside the gym. All of this is critical to blunting not only the impact of sedentary lifestyles and the notion that sports-specific training is sufficient to make kids physically fit. The latter issue stems from the importance that parents assign to sports-specific goals for their kids. Whereas other training programs are embracing a youth sports culture centered on winning at all costs and elevating only those kids who contribute to that, TBXM™ is committed to easing, if not undoing, the tension between those goals and our mission to provide all kids with the confidence and competence to explore all kinds of sports and other physical activities safely, proficiently, and enjoyably for the rest of their lives. The Brand X Method™ difference is a profound sensitivity to the overall health needs of today’s kids, who become tomorrow’s adults raising their own children.