Monday, December 27, 2010

Knowledge - Use it or Lose It

One of the most challenging aspects of being a fitness professional is watering down information so that the regular lay-person can understand it. Making info clear and concise usually means breaking it down in simplistic terms--which inevitably forces you to only use about 1/4 of your personal knowledge. Let's face it, when you have to explain the role of adenosine tri-phosphate (ATP) on the body's energy system and how it correlates to specify training effects, you are pressed to simplify the terms. And let's also face it, if you work with many average joe's then that means you are "dummying down" lots and lots of info. 

Many trainers seem to fall for the "dummy trap" by becoming complacent in their own ongoing learning process. This is typically exposed when they meet a fellow colleague and find out how behind the times they are in terms of research and application. For instance, I have friend who got tired of working for a commercial facility and wanted to step out and develop his own business. About about 6 months later, he had the opportunity and was doing fine with a hefty base clientèle. Sure business was good, but when we spoke he had never heard of Stuart McGill, Crossfit, or even heard of TRX suspension training. His training programs were out-dated and lacked specific focus on particular training variables.

I've written about using your knowledge or losing it in many past blog posts. It is a degenerative process that holds many fitness professionals back from reaching their true potential in effectiveness and overall career fulfillment. 

So what can be done to stop this degrading process? Here are some tips:

1.) Firstly, recognize that you are only using a 1/4 of your knowledge!
This is absolutely key. If you can recognize that you are falling behind the times in personal training instruction, trends, or research--you will have a good chance of recovering. However, this takes some self-motivation and setting aside some time to re-evaluate your position on the learning curve and search for resources to get your butt back in gear. The sad thing is, there are many professionals out there that tend to think that what they know or practice is enough for their business. Years ago, that would have been fine...however with the advancement of fitness awareness on the news and studies conducted year-round, people are going to learn through one medium or another. What we use day to day is only a fraction of what we have learned through the years. 
So those clients that you think are happy, will find something new that they may want to try--and if your program has got them stuck in the mud--my good money says they will want to try something new somewhere else. Hopefully, you will be ready for it!

2.) Stop investing in "Get-Rich" programs and invest in continuing education!
Sometimes I roll my eyes up so far up my head that I get a headache. Seriously...It PAINS me that so many people (new trainers) choose a specific path over another. I'll explain the 2 paths:

Path #1 is a sleek-paved road that leads to millions of dollars and a young guy that talks about how HIS family life is so better off because he is a millionaire while your life sucks. However, he paves the way for you to make the same millions so that you can enjoy the same riches as him. How does he do this? He produces tons and tons of products (usually with the help of others) and you buy them and you make HIM rich!!! Meanwhile, you are still waking up every morning driving to the gym to train Mrs. Daisy.
Path #2 is a dusty gravel road that is hilly and sometimes winding. This path leads to self-betterment through continuing education. This path is long and hard and sometimes you want to give it up or turn back around. But at the end of this path, you will AMASS experience working with all types of clients addressing all types of goals; and you will AMASS credibility and confidence because day in and day out you try and test every thing you know on your clients that trust you and look up to you. This path leads to SELF-RESPECT and positive SELF-EFFICACY because the reward is knowing that if you are good at your craft, and that the financial rewards will follow.

So many young professionals feel that once they are certified and have trained a "handful" of clients, they are ready to start up a business. Nothing wrong with entrepreneurship but it only works if you are really good at what you do, not what you appear to be good at. So what path are you ready to walk?

3.) Network with smarter people and colleagues!
Years ago, I sought out a strength coach in my area (who has become a  friend over the years) simply because I heard his facility was opening. I traveled about 40 miles to surprise him and once we met, we literally sat on an unfinished floor at his facility talking shop for over 2 hours! We met as complete strangers, but we left bouncing ideas off each-other and I gained a great and knowledgeable colleague. I learned alot from him and from that day on, I challenged myself to interact with many professionals that were much more seasoned than I was--including my 3 physical therapists, my orthopedist, and countless other professionals. My point is to ask questions of people who you have been in the business longer than you--rather than trying to "disguise" the fact that you may be less experienced. Be up front and win over their respect. Once you have that, I guarantee the communication and valuable lessons will follow.

4.) Join legitimate internet forums or discussion boards.
There are tons of fitness forums available on the Internet, but only a handful are beneficial. If you are unable to interact with other pro's in person, then hop on a forum in between sessions and interact with professionals around the world and bounce ideas off each-other. There are more useless fitness forums than good ones, so make sure you find a supportive community that is knowledgeable and willing to help. This will simply exercise the brain and get you involved in good debate. There is something to be learned in good debate--always!

5.) Read texts--not just look at the pictures!
I guess you can't help the fact that we are in a profession that uses visuals to instruct and many people tend to assess their form, by watching the form of others. But I see many trainers fall into this trap of purchasing books--good books--by good authors--- and simply looking at the photos. Read about the exercise or the concept, rather than looking at the photos. Learning the theory behind the exercise and its use will go a longer way than simply trying a new exercise on a client simply because it looks "harder"!

So there you have it. Feel free to post a comment here or add to anything!

1 comment:

  1. Good article. I have a fellow trainer who has a bachelor's degree, but knows only as much as me - because he simply hasn't used what he knew.

    You write that "There are tons of fitness forums available on the Internet, but only a handful are beneficial."

    But you didn't tell us which ones :)


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