Performance based training is a where an athlete prepares for a specific contest or sporting season regardless of the cost to his overall health and well being. Nothing can or will get in his way to compete. Health and longevity are secondary and tertiary concerns at best. Think of a sport like American football where athletes compete on a weekly basis with all kinds of injuries, ranging from the slight – things like strains and sprains, to the potentially life threatening – things like neck fractures and successive concussions. There are studies coming out now that suggest that the health and quality of life cost to these athletes is very high. The median age of death for a retired NFL player is 53-years old.
Taking a health first approach is almost the direct opposite of this. Longevity is one of the key concerns. As is taking into account the risks to one’s health associated with doing an activity.
When training from a health first perspective the first place to start is with removing restrictive forces and patterns within the body (and mind) of the practitioner. Have an assessment done: blood pressure, heart rate, blood work, body fat to lean muscle ratio, VO2 max, posture, gait and movement screening, et cetera… Also talk to those that know about the activity you want to take up, ask questions, allay fears and get ideas on the subject.
Once that is done have a program crafted to help you overcome those limitations. Do that consistently until you, or your team of health care providers notices some substantial changes in your overall psychophysiology (people are made up of more than just their bodies and their minds. Both are linked in ways science is still trying to figure out).
Then begin the basics of your fitness/athletic pursuits. Use incremental progression: tackle one thing at a time, groove the skill before adding another variable (like volume, intensity, et cetera) and don’t just “dive in” to the deep end of the pool. Like an infant: learn to roll before you crawl; crawl before you stand; stand before you walk; walk before you run, and so on up the movement chain hierarchy.