Monday, February 20, 2012

Own Your Profession

Ever wonder why there are so many good professionals and so many bad professionals across the board? I'm not talking simply in the fitness industry, but any industry--the medical community, politicians, law, civil service--you name it. Why are there good doctors and bad doctors? Why are there good lawyers and bad lawyers? Why are there good chefs and bad chefs?

I will give you my opinion on the matter. Recently, I began teaching a course at the local community college. I have been an adjunct instructor since 2002 and I teach for a personal training organization. Over the years,. I have noticed something about the students that make up my classes. These students are very much interested in the personal training profession, but they lack some critical skills in learning. I find myself in a room full of students that don't seem to care about the process of learning. They are eager to learn the "in's and out's" of the profession and "memorize" the exam answers, but there is lack of absorption.  This lack of absorption leads to a lack of investment in the trade.

Most people "coast" through their profession. They get into a routine. They make excuses for themselves and blame it on something that they think is "out of their control". Some professionals don't challenge themselves, or ask why...or learn from those much more knowledgeable or experienced. They become complacent. They become "used to" and comfortable in their situation. And each day they deal with a customer or patient or client or consumer, they recite the same ideas, same dialog, same thoughts...almost robotically. Because for them, it is easier this way. It is easier to punch in and punch out everyday without hassle, without recourse, or without provocation.

What value do you add to your profession? Are you growing as a professional? Are you learning new things or you stuck in that hamster wheel of monotony in that thing you call a career? Do you want to be better at what you do, or do you want to "just be"? When you understand this, you will understand that you not only add value to yourself as a professional and life, but you add value to your abilities and how the world perceives you.

How to accomplish this:

1.) Invest in your profession. This means setting a budget for continuing education. Obtaining credits does not have to be the only motivation to attend seminars and workshops. There should be an initiative to meet other professionals and expand on what you already know.

2.) Network with like-minded people. If there is one thing I know is how to differentiate when I am speaking to someone that is current on fitness trends and research, and one that is still speaking in terms back logged from 2-3 years ago. It is important to surround yourself with people that have the motivation and drive to be better professionals. This can be a friendly competition that will allow you to burst through the seams.

3.) Own your profession. For years, I was embarrassed to tell people I was a personal trainer. Not only did I not look the part, but many people didn't really understand what a personal trainer does all day. It wasn't until I met other personal trainers (that I felt were not putting in the effort and commitment to their clients); that I began to realize it was being infiltrated with a poor workforce. Once I became committed to bettering myself and investing in my future, I began to take my career more seriously and "calling out" people that didn't put the effort in became easier. Owning my profession meant that I take things seriously and personally. 

Once you "own your profession", you will realize that it is investment in your character. Not only does it help pay the bills and identify who you are; but it becomes an extension of you to others. A fireman is always a fireman even when he is not fighting fires. He is a fireman 24 hours a day. A doctor is a doctor 24 hours a day. There is no reason why those notable professions cannot run parallel with the career of a personal trainer. Once you realize that personal trainers are the first defense against illness and disease, you will value your profession and OWN IT!


  1. John,
    Great article. "It's a matter of how much investment a professional puts into themselves." I couldn't agree more. As a fitness professional, I view education as an investment, not a cost or a bothersome requirement. I have to admit: the more I learn, there is an underlying sense of frustration because there is so much I don't know, yet at the same time a sense of accomplishment from gaining more knowledge and taking action to truly make a difference in the fitness community and to my clients' well being. I hate hearing, "I can't afford it right now" when Perform Better comes to town and I'm the only trainer from my work who attends.
    Have an awesome Independence Day weekend!

  2. DOn't be frustrated. The learning process is a process...not an end. For everyone acorss the baord, regardless of level.


  3. Great post John. Like Chandra mentions it is amazing at home here how few trainers in our City go away to conferences. The local conference is an embarrasment, but few take advantage of the great workshops and seminars that are still relatively close to B.C. You can't not afford to invest in yourself.


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