Friday, September 30, 2011

Interview with Keith Scott

Keith Scott is one of those guys you probably have heard of, but can’t quite put your finger on his work. You’ve probably seen or read his work here and there. Keith is a certified athletic trainer, as well as a certified strength and conditioning coach with the NSCA. Keith has written articles for Men’s Fitness and online fitness publications.

With over 18 years working directly with athletes in the trenches, Keith’s goals are to continue to assist athletes of all levels reach their athletic potential, help them maintain or regain their optimal physical health, and be an excellent source of knowledge for anyone looking to improve their overall fitness, health and nutritional goals. While he has mainly focused on athletes most of his career, Keith thrives in working with non-athletes as well. Corrective Therapy, Weight management, body composition and post injury rehabilitation are some of the many areas on which Keith focuses.

So would you think a guy like Keith Scott has something to say about the fitness industry? Find out:

JOHN: Keith, you have a very informational blog with some very good instructional videos. In a nutshell, let's blast right into it--what is the single most thing that you like about the personal training industry and what is the single most thing you don't you like about it?

Keith: There is a lot to like and a lot to be excited about these days, but if I had to narrow it down, it is simple really…I really like the ability to help change peoples lives. Whether it is helping people change their bodies, eliminate pain, or become better athletes, for me, it all boils down to having a big influence on helping people change for the better. Forget all of the certifications, seminars, info products, internet status, etc… getting back to basics of why we are doing this (in my opinion) is to help people. Personal trainers, or I should say good personal trainers, have the ability to do that everyday, and that is pretty cool. There is so much out there these days and so many cool ways to help and influence people in this industry.

There is A LOT I don’t like, but if I had to narrow it down, it would be the issue of honesty/integrity. Both are in the same argument here. What I mean is there are way too many trainers out there promoting themselves as people they are really not. Whether that is lying about having a masters degree, when they don’t, or lying about how many 1000’s of people they have worked with, when they would be lucky to work with 50….I mean there are guys out there that are only 24 years old claiming that they have trained Olympians, Pro athletes and thousands of athletes all in a 4 year span. These same people let people know they are 25 years old, but have been training people for 10 years. That means they started training people when they were 15!!! They outright lie to their clients, the public and ultimately to themselves. This is not just a problem with integrity, but it is somewhat dangerous too. People buy those lies and listen to these people without any hesitation. It becomes obvious, at least to me, that these people could care less about really helping anyone (except themselves) and they are only in this ‘game’ for the money. The internet is awesome, but it is also the vehicle for this problem. Anyone can get a website and anyone can say anything on the net. No checks, no balances, no accountability. It makes me sick really, but I have come to the point where I don’t worry about it anymore, I can really only worry about what I do, and try to educate people the best I can.

JOHN: In your experience as an athletic trainer and as a fitness professional, do you think that there is a increased amount much "gray area" between a trainer and say, a physical therapist, in regards to corrective exercise and rehab? What I mean is, do you think many of today's trainers should be playing with goniometers and perform manual therapy if their certification really didn't delve into it?

Keith: Great question. I have to say that I really do have an issue with this, and I think it is because my background is in therapy and sports medicine. With that said, it is easy for me to recognize when trainers are crossing the line and doing things they really shouldn’t be doing. Its not a thin line either in many cases. I have NO problem with corrective exercise, but too many trainers are diagnosing, treating, and actually performing therapy on clients, and that should never happen unless you are trained to do so. Nothing against ACE, NSCA, NASM, etc… but those certs do not prepare someone to do any of those things. I know trainers that do joint mobilization, and other advanced physical therapy techniques…that is dangerous in my opinion…and also illegal.

I had a conversation with a guy who labeled himself as a corrective exercise guy (along with an expert in body building, nutrition, speed, etc…) and I asked him what kind of things he does with his clients…I was shocked at the cavilere attitude he took…he responded by telling me that he “treats” clients that have major physical issues by performing different PT techniques, and some chiropractic adjustments. The kicker is that the guy is only 24 and has been working as a trainer for only 2 years.

JOHN: Keith, you obviously train many athletes including highschool and general population. In your experience, where does the personal trainer slip up the most? Is it in rapport, investigation, assessment, exercise design, instruction, or accountability, or professionalism? By all means, pick all that apply:)

Keith: All of the above. I mean it is different for everyone, but I see many trainers miss the boat in terms of establishing a solid rapport. If you don’t have a good connection with these teens, you are going to miss things that need to be addressed. Many cases it is psychological and emotional signals that are missed. Some trainers are hell bent on getting these kids through the routine no matter what, and the fail to see that the kid is hurting, or going through something major in their lives.

Assessment is a big one too. I know of way too many trainers and coaches that skip an assessment all together. They just throw a 16-year-old kid, with no experience into an advanced program.

Professionalism is also lacking big time in this industry. A local gym in my area where I train myself sometimes just fired three of their trainers for having inappropriate contact with their female clients. Some were high school girls. That is another problem when you have a 23 year old “kid training someone that is not too far removed from their own age. They become ‘friends’ with their clients and the next thing you know, they are hanging out on weekends.

Program design is horrible in many areas. I watched a trainer from the above mentioned gym working with a division I scholarship athlete one day. His exercise selection consisted of leg extensions, seated biceps curls, calf raises, and crunches. This girl was paying this guy to prep her for a division I Lacrosse program and that is what she got. Instruction goes right along with that. Many of these certifications do NOTHING in the way of teaching how to teach. That has to come from experience and good mentoring. The problem goes back to hiring 20 some year olds right off of the street that have NO experience and placing them with athletes. Its no wonder the injury rates are still climbing even when we know better ways to prevent through solid strength and conditioning programs. The good coaches and trainers are leaving the floor more and more and working management and becoming owners…this leaves the gyms slim pickings when it comes to hiring new trainers.

JOHN: I know it seems like I am picking on personal trainers, and trust me, I am one, but my intent is to let my readers gain a perspective on this field through another set of eyes--which in this case our yours. If you could engrave 3 rules into a trainer's mind, what would they be?

Keith: Don’t be someone you are not. If you are new, that is fine, but realize that you know next to nothing and find someone qualified to mentor you so you will learn. Having a great personality is awesome and good, but you still have to work hard to learn as much as you can. In that same regard, don’t try to do things you are not ready to do. If you don’t know how to teach a proper deadlift, there is ZERO reason you should ever be programming it into your clients training routines.

Find a mentor and learn as much as you possibly can from him or her. You cannot teach experience, so the next best thing is to sponge off of someone that has been doing it for a long time and learn everything you can. It is the best way to learn. Not enough people do this. I even encourage new trainers to find a gym or studio to work in that has someone experienced so they can learn from them.

Learn how to effectively deal with people on a personal level. One of the most important aspects of personal training (in my opinion) is dealing and connecting with your client. If you cant do that, you will not be very effective in getting results. Anyone can follow a program, but learning how to get your clients to follow you is essential. This can only happen if you build a solid relationship first. It is uncomfortable for some to do this, but it is something that needs to be done and worked on everyday.

Here is a bonus # 4

Work with people for at LEAST 5 years (maybe longer) before you decide to write a book or put out an information product. There is nothing wrong with trying to make money, but if you are writing a book about fitness, training or anything else in the industry and you have no real world experience, then you are just another fraud. There are always exceptions to the rule but for the most part, you have no business putting yourself out there as an “expert” when you have not done anything yet. Your product will only be a sad book of plagiarized ideas and lies about yourself. Unless your book is titled “10 things I did wrong in my first 3 years of training, and number one is writing this book!”

JOHN: In my experience working with general population clients, I have found that most that demonstrate some kind of lower body deviation in a squatting movement. I always address the glute medius with some lateral walks in this instance. After a few sessions of glute med work, everything in the lower body begins to fall into place. Everyone is different, however, most postural (static or dynamic) deviations usually have commonalities between modalities to use (exercise, flexibility, SMR). What are some of the deviations do you see in your practice, and what is "the" exercise you choose to start things off with?

Keith: As I am sure we all do, I see many deviations throughout my athletes and clients. As you said, I see hip issues with almost everyone. Lateral musculature rarely works the way it is supposed to, so like you, I like to use lateral band walks, X-band walks to address this. With that said, I also see a lot of glute max dysfunction in people as well. My go to exercise with almost everyone is to try to turn on the glutes first and foremost. As I mentioned, the lateral band walks will help with this…at least the glute medius, but I really like to work on true hip extension by activating the glute max first and foremost. I will have clients do some supine bridges (both and one leg), mule kicks (across a bench) and some guided bench or box squats to get the glutes working.

I think it is important to not forget the upper body as well. Just as I see glute dysfunction in the lower body, I see just as much or even more shoulder issues in the upper extremity. Scapular dysfunctions are the number one thing I address with almost every single client I deal with.

JOHN: In the last 3 years, I would say that ankle mobility has been an "A-ha" concept for me when addressing my client's needs. What do you think has been the thing you've learned in the past few years that has really confirmed what you were already doing in practice?

Keith: That is an interesting question, because as an athletic trainer I have always treated each client different based on their needs…so to answer your question, I would say it depends. Sometimes it is ankle mobility, sometimes as I already mentioned it is scap dysfunction…but more so, I have learned that core stabilization has not been addressed in most people that I come in contact with. I am not talking about crunches and that stuff either…I am talking about real core stabilization work. I always worked things that involved the core, but my “Ah Ha” came as I realized that my athletes and clients were way stronger in their core than others and injury rates were way down in so many areas…this was without even intentionally working the core.

Since then, I have added a lot of other core type of work within my programming. However, for the most part, if you are training and programming the right way, the core will be taken care of anyway. But it never hurts to add that directly. [END]

ABOUT: Keith Scott is a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) through the National Athletic Trainer’s Association ( and also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association ( He has also received his certification as a Performance Enhancement Specialist (PES) through the National Academy of Sports Medicine ( ).

Keith focused on injury prevention, post surgical/injury rehabilitation, and Strength and Conditioning. He worked extensively with athletes of all levels and many different sports. Keith also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Athletic Training from the East Stroudsburg University. For more info:


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