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Back to Basics

Many months ago I attended a fitness conference where all the self proclaimed gurus in the fitness industry performed their newest top tier workouts for other elite athletes to take back to perform for their own clients. These uber athletes were balancing so many things on a BOSU they made the performers in cirque du soleil look clumsy.

What a show!…Until one of them lost balance and broke their ankle. Then all bets were off.   I found myself quietly paying tribute to Jane Fonda.   Jane. One of the most famous fitness icons.  Like Madonna did for pop culture and fishnets, Jane did for basic leg lifts. That woman had it right on.

Why do we feel the need to reinvent the wheel? Or in this case the medicine ball? There is no reason to balance standing on your head blindfolded while juggling 3 BOSU balls on your toes. Back to basics. Jane Fonda. Her simple aerobics and easy to follow routines actually worked. Why do we assume they are no longer effective?

Consider this: The same simple workouts that have been around forever actually do work. What if we dropped the intricate equipment and balancing act and did- gasp! dare I say it?: – Basic aerobics and calisthenics??? You can get MORE THAN an effective workout by just going for a run or doing some squats, push ups and sit ups. ( Or take a yoga class or Pilates even though they are soooooo 2005. ) Or try Plyometrics, which have been around since the Ancient Greeks obsessed over their bodies.

Remember Gilad? Another original back to basics fitness icon who made exercise TV popular. This Israeli born hunk made housewives feel like they were right there along with him and his solid gold dancer look alike crew doing aerobics in thong leotards on the beaches of Hawaii. Love how he always put his “Imma” right in front of the camera to encourage the over 50 crowd. He was another fitness pioneer who had it right. Simple easy to follow moves set to music and a glorious background. Very motivating and VERY effective.

Over the holidays the gyms were packed and as I squeezed my way into the back of a group exercise class I took a look around and noticed that there were people of all shapes, sizes and ages. Once the class began I could not help laughing to myself at how ridiculous this instructor was. Her frenetic and fast pace made the very difficult moves even more strenuous. I consider myself in pretty good shape and yet I felt exhausted from the demanding performance she commanded. Her hyperactive pace and extreme movements were so perplexing and confusing that I did not feel “challenged” but rather, annoyed. I had to walk out, but not before I overheard a woman say she hurt herself. These trainers seemed to have sold their clients on the elaborate new moves (perhaps the very same maneuvers they picked up at a fitness conference) when their clients clearly could not perform them. Her class was packed and yet it seemed as though very few people actually had the basics down first before attempting to try these onerous moves.

People often like gimmicks when they don’t even know the basics.

This back to basics rule can be applied to trading. It seems like every trading firm believes they have some special secret sauce or proprietary analytics that provides them with a competitive edge in the market. I’m not referring to the high frequency trading type category as those strategies have more to do with access than to creative analysis.

I am speaking of the average trader or fund.

I am well aware of the prop funds that are closing. Yes, the game is changing and certain strategies no longer work consistently or even at all but there are many other action plans that continue to work well. You don’t have to rewrite the playbook or create some magical formulas to excel at this game. In fact, basic technical setups have worked almost magically this year for both short term and longer term trading.

For instance, there was a set up for a long entry in late August around 1040 in the S&P 500. There was another long entry from a breakout at 1130 from a classic head and shoulders reversal pattern. The rally has been halted around the 61.8% retracement from the all time high in the S&P from 1576 to March 2009 lows of 660 which should have been a sign to be more cautious on the long side or possibly move toward the short side.  This information is basic technical analysis and you don’t need proprietary algorithms to spot them. The key is to learn the elemental principals of trading and keep up to date with them on a daily basis and that will keep you in trading shape.

Similarly, you don’t need to rely on some new age workout program to get you in great physical shape when the basics work even better and less likely to cause injury.

Disclaimer: Trading and investing can result in loss of capital. The above is not a solicitation to buy or sell securities and should be used solely for educational purposes.

Jordana Balsam

Disclosure: None