[Author’s Note: Two of my favorite blogs are Nerd Fitness and Man Vs. Debt. Part of why they are so great is Steve and Adam’s ability to be both transparent and to the point in their posts. This combination of succinctness and effectiveness is something I highly value in an age where information can quickly become overwhelming. So, in an effort to “Level Up My Blog”, I’ll attempt to follow their example.]
In my Trainer Timeline, readers can see checkpoints I’ve set up to achieve my dream of becoming a personal trainer. They include major steps, such as: training clients locally in Japan, getting CrossFit level 1 certified, and becoming ACSM PT certified. However, this is far from the whole story. Here are a couple of things I work on everyday in order to be the best trainer I can be.
#1 Never stop learning…or taking notes.
There is always something more you can learn about. Long ago I realized that a trainer who no longer has a passion for learning and improving is not only doing a disservice to his/her clients, but to themselves. After all, isn’t self-improvement what exercise is all about?
A critical part of my learning process is taking notes. A lot of them. Simply watching an instructional video or reading an article can be helpful, but isn’t enough to get the best ROI (return on investment). For example, I have a separate document on each major movement I use, on programming for different populations, on how to get the best sleep, on different hormones in the body, etc. These are collections of the best information I have found on each subject, and are great for both review and synthesizing my own informed-opinions.
#2 Take advantage of other’s expertise
Some of the best information I have found to date comes from other passionate bloggers. People like Robb Wolf (The Paleo Solution), Mark Sission (Mark’s Daily Apple), Kelly Starret (Mobility WOD), and Al Kavadlo (Personal Training) never cease to amaze with the quality of information they make available. Of course, this doesn’t mean I take their advice unquestioningly. But as a starting point for research and critical analysis of my own methods, they cannot be beat.
Two other resources I have come to value immensely are the Khan Academy, and Wikipedia (reserve judgement please). The Khan academy is, in a word – brilliant. It’s a new take on how to educate students in the classroom, as well as ourselves. Here you can find over 2100 videos (all ~10min.) on a variety of topics ranging from Biology to Calculus to Finance. I personally found the discussion on Muscle Function in Biology to be a great refresher course, and plan to review all the Finance section as well.
While obviously not the most reliable source of information on the internet, Wikipedia still has it’s uses – especially when looking for more clarity on something mentioned in a PubMed study. For someone without a Pre-med background like myself, some of the terms used can be mind-numbing. What is”sex hormone binding globulin“? What’s the difference between “eccentric” and “concentric” contractions? Don’t be afraid to look it up if you don’t know – there’s no shame in getting better. Also, I keep an evolving list of terms I’ve come across that I didn’t know. At first, I added to it everyday. Now, I only have to add to it once or twice a week. Soon, I hope to take that down to once every couple of months. (#knowledgeispower)
This idea leads into the next topic, which is…
#3 Recognize your weaknesses, and attack them.
A good way to focus your studies is to determine what your weaknesses are. It’s the same thing as with your body – you are only as strong as your weakest link. No matter how many leg curls you do, if you don’t also work on the stabilizing muscles you’re likely to blow out your knee the first time you step on a football field. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to study EVERYTHING. Just think about what you feel would help improve your product (in my case, training sessions)? Is it getting certified to work with disabled clients? Or brushing up on advanced Snatch progressions? Or even reading up on the psychology of coaching? Whatever it is, if you can improve in that area, you will be an even more complete trainer.
In my case, I know that one area that needs improvement is hands-on time working with clients. That is why I put out the call to local teachers offering to train them for free in exchange for feedback. I’m currently working with four clients after I finish my “day job”, and the experience has already proved both rewarding and educational. It’s also given me an idea of the amount of paperwork involved in tracking a client’s progress. I currently have over 15 different documents I’ve developed that I use with my hard-working team. I continue to improve upon them to make my client’s experience more enjoyable.
As a trainer, there is practically no end to the resources available for me to learn from.Whether its specialty certifications for working with the disabled or obese, expertise in a new training discipline such as Olympic lifting, or expanding my services by studying martial arts, massage therapy, or nutrition, there is ALWAYS room to grow. And that’s part of what I love about it.
-Stay Healthy Everybody[Parts II and III will be coming soon. Stay tuned for more!]